2nd Earl of Liverpool (1808-1828)
British Prime Minister (1812-1827)
Born 1770 Died 1828
Robert Banks Jenkinson was educated at Charterhouse and at Christ Church, Oxford, where he had George Canning, afterwards his close political associate, for a contemporary. In 1790 he entered parliament as member for Appleby; he became master of the mint in 1799 and foreign secretary in Addington's administration in 1801, when he conducted the negotiations for the abortive treaty of Amiens. On the accession of Pitt to power in 1804, he obtained the home office, having in the previous year been elevated as Baron Hawkesbury to the House of Lords, where he acted as leader of the government. He declined the premiership on the death of Pitt in 1806, and remained out of office until Portland became prime minister in 1807, when he again became secretary of state for home affairs. In 1808 he succeeded his father as Earl of Liverpool. In the ministry of Spencer Perceval (1809-1812) he was secretary for war and the colonies. After the assassination of Perceval in May 1812 he became prime minister, and retained office till compelled in February 1827 to resign by the illness (paralysis) which terminated his life on the 4th of December 1828.
"The political career of the 2nd Lord Liverpool was of a negative character so far as legislation was concerned; but he held office in years of great danger and depression, during which he kept order among his colleagues, composed their quarrels, and oiled the wheels to make it possible for the machinery of government to work" (Spencer Walpole). The energy of Castlereagh and Canning secured the success of the foreign policy of his cabinet, but in his home policy he was always retrograde. The introduction of the bill of pains and penalties against Queen Caroline greatly increased his unpopularity, originated by the severe measures of repression employed to quell the general distress, which had been created by the excessive taxation which followed the Napoleonic wars. Lord Liverpool was destitute of wide sympathies and of true political insight, and his resignation of office was followed almost immediately by the complete and permanent reversal of his domestic policy.
He was twice married but had no children, and he was succeeded by his half-brother Charles Cecil Cope Jenkinson, 3rd Earl (1784-1851). who left three daughters. The baronetcy then passed to a cousin and the peerage became extinct.
For the life of the 2nd earl see the anonymous Memoirs of the Public Life and Administration of Liverpool (1827); C. D. Yonge Life and Administration of the 2nd Earl of Liverpool (1868); T. E Kebbel, History of Toryism (1886); and Sir S. Walpole. History of England, vol. ii. (1890).
Extracted from the entry for LIVERPOOL, EARLS OF in the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, the text of which lies within the public domain.