William Vernon Harcourt (politician)

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William Vernon Harcourt
William Vernon Harcourt in a cartoon in Vanity Fair magazine dated June 4, 1870

Sir William George Granville Venables Vernon Harcourt PC (born October 14, 1827 in York , Yorkshire , † October 1, 1904 in Nuneham Courtnay , Oxfordshire ) was a British journalist , lawyer and politician of the Liberal Party , who was a member between 1868 and his death in 1904 of the House of Commons and was both Home Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer . He also served as Chair of the Liberals in the House of Commons between 1894 and 1898.


Family origin, studies, journalist and lawyer

Harcourt was the fourth of five children of the theologian and natural scientist William Vernon Harcourt , who founded the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1831 , and his wife Matilda Mary Gooch. His older brother Edward William Vernon Harcourt was also a scientist, but also a politician and was also a member of the House of Commons between 1878 and 1886. His grandfather was the theologian Edward Venables-Vernon-Harcourt , who was Archbishop of York from 1808 to 1847 , while his grandmother Anne Leveson-Gower was a daughter of Granville Leveson-Gower, 1st Marquess of Stafford . One of his uncles was the politician George Harcourt , who was for the Conservative Party in the House of Commons between 1806 and 1861 and was last there from 1850 as the longest-serving member of Parliament "Father of the House". In addition, a cousin was the chemist Augustus George Vernon Harcourt , who was one of the founders of chemical kinetics and - at least in part - was the model for the figure of the White Knight in Lewis Carroll's children 's book Alice Behind the Looking Glass .

After schooling completed Harcourt one Studied mathematics and classical philology at Trinity College of Cambridge University and graduated in 1851 with honors in Classical Philology, while he finished his studies in mathematics only adequate. He rejected the family support of the conservative Tories and began working as a journalist for The Morning Chronicle . Shortly thereafter, he began a study of the 1852 Law on the Bar Association ( Inns of Court ) from Lincoln's Inn and took after admission to the Bar of the Inner Temple in 1854 working as a lawyer on.

In addition, he wrote articles for the London weekly newspaper Saturday Review from 1855 and became a supporter of the liberal politics of William Ewart Gladstone and an opponent of Henry Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston . As a lawyer, he specialized in railroad law and also wrote comments and articles on foreign policy issues for The Times .

Member of the House of Commons, Solicitor General and Minister of the Interior

On November 17, 1868, Harcourt was elected as a candidate of the Liberal Party for the first time as a member of the House of Commons and initially represented the constituency of Oxford until May 8, 1880 .

In 1873 he took over his first government office when he succeeded Henry James as Solicitor General for England and Wales in the government of Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone and held this office until the end of Gladstone's tenure on February 20, 1874. On December 12, 1873, he was beaten to Knight Bachelor and thus led to the addition of "Sir".

On April 28, 1880, Harcourt was appointed Home Secretary by Prime Minister Gladstone in his second government and held this ministerial office until June 23, 1885. With his appointment as Minister was also the appointment as a member of the Privy Council . Shortly after taking office as Minister of the Interior, he was re-elected to the Liberals' House of Commons on May 25, 1880, in which he represented the Derby constituency until July 13, 1895 .

Chancellor of the Exchequer and Chairman of the Liberal Party

William Vernon Harcourt (1890)

In the third, only 174 days in office Gladstone's government, he held the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer for the first time from February 1 to July 25, 1886, and in this function also held the office of Lord High Treasurer . Harcourt resumed the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer and Lord High Treasurer after Gladstone became Prime Minister for the fourth time on August 15, 1892. He remained in these offices under Gladstone's successor Archibald Philip Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery , who held the office of Prime Minister from March 5, 1894 to June 21, 1895.

In addition, Harcourt took over from Gladstone in 1894 as chairman of the Liberal Party, which he held until his replacement by Henry Campbell-Bannerman in 1898.

As such, he worked as chairman of the faction of the ruling party and Leader of the House ( Leader of the House of Commons ) before it after the electoral defeat of the Liberals against the Conservatives and the end of the tenure of Prime Minister Rosebery on 21 June 1895 opposition leaders ( Leader of the Opposition) and also held this position until his replacement by Campbell-Bannerman in 1898. He himself was re-elected to the House of Commons on July 13, 1895, in which he represented the constituency of Monmouthshire Western until his death on October 1, 1904 . At the time of his death, he was a member of the House of Commons for nearly 36 years.

Marriages and offspring

His first marriage to Maria Theresa Lister on November 5, 1859, had two sons, including Lewis Veron Harcourt , who was Minister for Public Works between 1905 and 1910 and again from 1915 to 1916, and between 1910 and 1915 Minister for the Colonies and in 1917 when Viscount Harcourt was raised to the hereditary nobility and was thereby a member of the House of Lords .

On December 2, 1876, Harcourt married Elizabeth Cabot Motley, a daughter of the American diplomat John Lothrop Motley , who was ambassador to the Austrian Empire between 1861 and 1867 and ambassador to the United Kingdom for a short time in 1869 . From this marriage came his third son Robert Venables Vernon Harcourt , who represented the constituency of Montrose Burghs as a member of the House of Commons for the Liberal Party from 1908 to 1918 .

Web links

Commons : William Vernon Harcourt (politician)  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ William Arthur Shaw: The Knights of England. Volume 2, Sherratt and Hughes, London 1906, p. 365.