Viscount Goderich

Viscount Goderich

Frederick Robinson, second son of Baron Grantham, was born in London in 1782. After being educated at Harrow and Cambridge University, he trained as a lawyer. However, he ended his studies when he was offered the post as private secretary to the Earl of Hardwicke, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.

At the 1806 General Election, Robinson was elected to represent the Carlow in the House of Commons. He held the seat for a year but in the next General Election he switched to Ripon.

In 1809 the Duke of Portland appointed him as his under-secretary for the colonies and the following year he accepted the post of lord of the admiralty under Spencer Perceval. When Lord Liverpool became Prime Minister in 1812, Robinson became President of the Board of Trade.

In 1815 Robinson was responsible for the introduction of the new Corn Laws. In the street riots that followed, Robinson's house in Old Burlington Street was attacked and valuable pictures and pieces of furniture were destroyed. Robinson supported the Six Acts and unsuccessfully opposed the appointment of a select committee to look into agricultural distress. Robinson also spoke on several occasions against Whig attempts to introduce parliamentary reform.

In 1823 Robinson became Chancellor of the Exchequer. With the support of William Huskisson at the Board of Trade, Robinson reduced duties on rum, coal, foreign wool and raw silk. Robinson experienced problems balancing the budget and in 1827 asked the new Prime Minister, George Canning, to grant him a peerage and an easier job in the government. Canning agreed with this request and Robinson became Viscount Goderich and gave him the post of Secretary of State for War.

When Canning died in August 1827, George IV asked Goderich to become Prime Minister. His colleagues feared that he had been chosen because the king felt he could control him better than other leading politicians. Goderich found it impossible to stop the conflict between the Whigs and Tories in the cabinet and on 8th January, 1828, he resigned from office. Goderich was disappointed when the new Prime Minister, the Duke of Wellington, decided against offering him a post in his government.

When the Whig, Lord Grey, took office in November, 1830, Goderich was appointed Secretary of State for War. Goderich now emerged as one of the leading liberals in the government. He fully supported parliamentary reform and argued for an end to slavery.

In April, 1833 he was granted a new title, the Earl of Ripon. Later that year he had the responsibility of taking the Slavery Abolition Act through the House of Lords. In May, 1834, he resigned from the government over the proposed Irish Church Commission, a move that he feared would result in a loss of power for the Church of England.

The Earl of Ripon returned to government in August, 1841, when he was appointed by Robert Peel as his President of the Board of Trade. He was then given the task of reforming the Corn Laws. After the passing of the 1846 Corn Law Act. Ripon resigned from office.

Frederick Robinson, Earl of Ripon, died on 14th May, 1847.