Edward Smith-Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby

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The Earl of Derby</font></caption>
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Periods in Office: February, 1852 - December, 1852
February, 1858 - June, 1859
June, 1866 - February, 1868
PM Predecessors: The Earl Russell
The Viscount Palmerston
PM Successors: The Earl of Aberdeen
The Viscount Palmerston
Benjamin Disraeli
Date of Birth: 29 March 1799
Place of Birth: Knowsley Park, Lancashire
Political Party: Conservative Party
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Arms of Edward Smith-Stanley

Edward George Geoffrey Smith-Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby. (March 29, 1799 - October 23, 1869) was a British statesman, three times Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and is to date the longest serving leader of the Conservative Party. He was known before 1844 as Edward Smith-Stanley, and from 1844 to 1851 as Lord Stanley.

Stanley, a descendant of the Earls of Derby, was educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford. He was elected to parliament as a Whig in 1820. When the Whigs returned to power in 1830, Stanley became Chief Secretary for Ireland in Lord Grey's government, and entered the Cabinet in 1831. In 1833, Stanley moved up to the more important position of Secretary of State for War and the Colonies. Stanley, a conservative Whig, broke with the ministry over the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland in 1834, and resigned from the government.

Joining the Conservatives, Stanley again served as Colonial Secretary in Sir Robert Peel's second government in 1841. In 1844 he was created Baron Stanley of Bickerstaffe and entered the House of Lords. In 1845, he again broke with his prime minister, this time over the repeal of the Corn Laws, and managed to bring the majority of the Conservative party with him, (including, among others, the young Benjamin Disraeli). He thereafter led the protectionist rump of the Conservative Party. In 1851 he succeeded his father as Earl of Derby.

In February 1852, following the collapse of the Whig government of Lord John Russell, Derby formed a minority government, the member of which who would gain most future prominence was Disraeli as Chancellor of the Exchequer. With many former Conservative ministers having followed Peel, Derby was forced to appoint many new men to office - of the Cabinet only three were pre-existing Privy Counsellors. It is said that when the aged Duke of Wellington heard the list of ministers being read out in the House of Lords he kept asking "Who? Who?" and this has led the government to be lablled the "Who? Who? Ministry".

Traditionally Derby is regarded as a weak Prime Minister whose ministries were dominated by Disraeli, however recent research suggests that this was not always the case. In the area of foreign policy, Disraeli proved highly marginal, with Derby and his Foreign Secretaries Lord Malmesbury and later his sone Lord Stanley between them pursuing a course of action that was aimed at building up power through financial strength, seeking to avoid wars at all costs, cooperating with any other powers as needs be and working through the Concert of Europe to resolve problems. This contrasted heavily with the policy of military strength and prestige that Disraeli would later pursue, but during the Derby ministries it was the driving thinking on foreign policy and could be argued to be the precursor of the "splendid isolation" and the diplomatic settlement of Europe pursued by later Conservatives in the late 19th century and the 1930s respectively.

Derby and Disraeli were unable to achieve a parliamentary majority, however, and the government collapsed in December of the same year, making way for a Peelite-Whig coalition under Lord Aberdeen.

In 1858, Derby formed another minority government upon the collapse of Lord Palmerston's first government, with Disraeli again at the Exchequer and Leader of the Commons. Among the notable achievements of this administration were the end of the British East India Company following the Sepoy Mutiny, which brought India under direct British control for the first time. Once again, the government was short-lived, collapsing after only a year.

Derby returned to power for the last time in 1866, following the collapse of Lord Russell's second government. Once again, Disraeli was the leading figure. This administration was particularly notable for the passage of the Reform Act of 1867, which greatly expanded the suffrage. In early 1868, Derby retired from political life, leaving Disraeli to succeed him.

Although noted as a great orator, Derby was frequently criticized for his languid leadership. Nevertheless, he had many significant achievements, both as minister and Prime Minister, and is considered to be the father of the modern Conservative Party. His tenure as undisputed leader of the party lasted for 22 years - to date the all time record for the party.

His first son was Edward Henry Stanley, 15th Earl of Derby.

Derby's Governments


Preceded by:
Sir Henry Hardinge
Chief Secretary for Ireland
1830–1833
Succeeded by:
Sir John Cam Hobhouse
Preceded by:
The Viscount Goderich
Secretary of State for War and the Colonies
1833–1834
Succeeded by:
Thomas Spring Rice
Preceded by:
The Lord John Russell
Secretary of State for War and the Colonies
1841–1845
Succeeded by:
William Ewart Gladstone
Preceded by:
Sir Robert Peel, Bt
Leader of the British Conservative Party
1846–1868
Succeeded by:
Benjamin Disraeli
Preceded by:
The Lord John Russell
Prime Minister
1852
Succeeded by:
The Earl of Aberdeen
Preceded by:
The Viscount Palmerston
Prime Minister
1858–1859
Succeeded by:
The Viscount Palmerston
Preceded by:
The Earl Russell
Prime Minister
1866–1868
Succeeded by:
Benjamin Disraeli

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