Sir James Robert George Graham - Encyclopedia

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SIR JAMES ROBERT GEORGE GRAHAM, Bart. (1792-1861), British statesman, son of a baronet, was born at Naworth, Cumberland, on the 1st of June 1792, and was educated at Westminster and Oxford. Shortly after quitting the university, while making the "grand tour" abroad, he became private secretary to the British minister in Sicily. Returning to England in 1818 he was elected to parliament as member for Hull in the Whig interest; but he was unseated at the election of 1820. In 1824 he succeeded to the baronetcy; and in 1826 he re-entered parliament as representative for Carlisle, a seat which he soon exchanged for the county of Cumberland. In the same year he published a pamphlet entitled "Corn and Currency," which brought him into prominence as a man of advanced Liberal opinions; and he became one of the most energetic advocates in parliament of the Reform Bill. On the formation of Earl Grey's administration he received the post of first lord of the admiralty, with a seat in the cabinet. From 1832 to 1837 he sat for the eastern division of the county of Cumberland. Dissensions on the Irish Church question led to his withdrawal from the ministry in 1834, and ultimately to his joining the Conservative party. Rejected by his former constituents in 1837, he was in 1838 elected for Pembroke, and in 1841 for Dorchester. In the latter year he took office under Sir Robert Peel as secretary of state for the home department, a post he retained until 5846. As home secretary he incurred considerable odium in Scotland, by his unconciliating policy on the church question prior to the "disruption" of 1843; and in 1844 the detention and opening of letters at the post-office by his warrant raised a storm of public indignation, which was hardly allayed by the favourable report of a parliamentary committee of investigation. From 1846 to 1852 he was out of office; but in the latter year he joined Lord Aberdeen's cabinet as first lord of the admiralty, in which capacity he acted also for a short time in the Palmerston ministry of 1855. The appointment of a select committee of inquiry into the conduct of the Russian war ultimately led to his withdrawal from official life. He continued as a private member to exercise a considerable influence on parliamentary opinion. He died at Netherby, Cumberland, on the 25th of October 1861.

His Life, by C. S. Parker, was published in 1907.

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