John Bright - Radical, Family and Life

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John Bright's Personal Details

John Bright was a British Liberal politician

InformationDetail
BirthdayNovember 16, 1811
Died onMarch 27, 1889
NationalityBritish
FamousLiberal Politician, Radical, Leaders, Political Leaders
SpousesElizabeth Priestman
SiblingsJacob Bright
Childrens William Leatham Bright
Birth PlaceRochdale, Lancashire
Political IdeologyLiberal
GenderMale
FatherJacob Bright
MotherMartha Wood
Sun SignScorpio
Born inRochdale, Lancashire
Famous asBritish Radical and Liberal Politician
Died at Age77

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John Bright's photo

Who is John Bright?

John Bright was a British Liberal politician. A contemporary of Queen Victoria, this radical politician was a great orator. Belonging to a respectable Quaker family, he was introduced to public life by his friend Richard Cobden. He was first elected to the British House of Commons from Durham, and later from Manchester and Birmingham. He was the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster towards the end of his life. As a member of the Anti-Corn League, he successfully spearheaded the opposition to the Corn Laws, which made import of wheat and food grains very costly. The Laws protected the privileged landowners, but added to the misery of the poorer sections of people. Working with Cobden, he made possible the Cobden-Chevalier Treaty which was the first step towards free trade policy. Another instance of the success of his liberalism is found in the Reform Act, which gave the right of vote to every male of a constituency, and also initiated changes in the way constituencies were drawn. As a Quaker, he was opposed to slavery and was a pacifist. He denounced the Crimean War and stood his ground, despite losing his seat in the Commons. He is remembered for his speeches delivered in clear and commanding style and garnished with similes, biblical allusions and wit.

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Childhood & Early Life

John Bright was born on November 16, 1811, in Rochdale England. He was one of the 11 children born to Jacob Bright and his second wife Martha Wood. Jacob, like his wife, was a Quaker and ran a profitable cotton-spinning mill.

He was a day-scholar at a boarding school run by William Littlewood near his home and also went to the Ackworth School, the Bootham School, York, and a school in Newton, near Clitheroe.

He learnt Latin and Greek, and loved English literature. He was member of the Rochdale Juvenile Temperance Band and fine-tuned his oratorical skills during its meetings.

After his formal schooling ended, he joined the family business. He joined his brother in a campaign that opposed compulsory tax support of the Anglican Church in Rochdale.

Career

John Bright met Richard Cobden, an alderman of the Manchester Corporation, who invited him to speak against the Corn Laws in Rochdale, in 1838. He joined the Anti-Corn Law League, the following year.

In the national campaign against the Corn Laws, he gave many speeches calling for its reform. He attacked it for widening the divide between the landed aristocracy and the poor peasants and workers.

In 1843, he was elected to the House of Commons from Durham. He led deputations to the home-secretary and to the representatives of the Board of Trade, seeking the repeal of the Corn Laws.

In his first speech in the Commons in 1843, he supported the motion by liberal politician William Ewart calling for lesser import duties. However, the motion was defeated.

Led by Cobden and Bright, the Anti-Corn Law League intensified its campaign and could no longer be ignored. The leaders complemented each other well¬¬ – Cobden’s speeches were argumentative while Bright’s were rhetorical.

He opposed the aggressive foreign policy of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Lord Palmerston. He agreed with Cobden’s views on the Crimean War that began in 1854, and campaigned against it.

The British public passionately supported their government’s war efforts. In the General Election of 1857, Bright lost his seat but was reelected in a by-election. He never changed his stance on the war.

In 1857, the Indian Mutiny broke out. He held the British misrule responsible for the Mutiny and supported the idea of allowing the Indians to elect their own government.

He supported universal suffrage and declared in a speech in 1858, that only 1/6 of adult males had the vote in Britain. He also sought the introduction of secret ballot and redrawing of constituencies.

True to his Quaker background, he opposed slavery and applauded Abraham Lincoln. His religion, however, forbade him to demand that his government send troops to help the Unionists.

Appointed as President of the Board of Trade by Prime Minister Gladstone in 1868, he saw many measures close to his heart being passed, including reforms in education and the introduction of secret ballot.

He did not support Gladstone on Home Rule for Ireland. Bright announced that he was not prepared to see power given to Irish nationalists who had shown contempt for parliamentary government.

Major Works

In 1846, John Bright’s fight against the unjust Corn-law bore fruit when PM Robert Peel’s government passed a law that cut the duty on oats, barley and wheat to only one shilling per quarter.

The first to broach the issue of free trade with France in the parliament, he supported Cobden’s effort in the direction. The Cobde-Chevalier Treaty or the Anglo-French Free Trade treaty was signed in 1860.

The 1867 Reform Act was a victory for him, as it gave the vote to every male adult householder living in a constituency; smaller constituencies were also redrawn, keeping in mind their population.

Awards

Oxford presented John Bright an honorary Doctor of Civil Law in 1886. It is the second highest degree awarded by the University after Doctor of Divinity and is usually awarded to heads of states.

Personal Life & Legacy

John Bright married Elizabeth Priestman of Newcastle in 1839, and had a daughter, Helen, with her. After Elizabeth’s death, he married Margaret Elizabeth Leatham and fathered seven more children.

Suffering from lung congestion complicated by diabetes and chronic nephritis, he died on March 27, 1889, in his home, One Ash, and was buried in Rochdale. A funeral service was held at Westminster Abbey.

Trivia

This British Quaker politician said, “I am for peace, retrenchment and reform, the watchword of the great Liberal Party thirty years ago”.

This British statesman known for his rhetorical speeches is credited with coining phrases such as ‘flog a dead horse’ and ‘mother of parliaments’.

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John Bright biography timelines

  • // 16th Nov 1811
    John Bright was born on November 16, 1811, in Rochdale England. He was one of the 11 children born to Jacob Bright and his second wife Martha Wood. Jacob, like his wife, was a Quaker and ran a profitable cotton-spinning mill.
  • // 1838
    John Bright met Richard Cobden, an alderman of the Manchester Corporation, who invited him to speak against the Corn Laws in Rochdale, in 1838. He joined the Anti-Corn Law League, the following year.
  • // 1839
    John Bright married Elizabeth Priestman of Newcastle in 1839, and had a daughter, Helen, with her. After Elizabeth’s death, he married Margaret Elizabeth Leatham and fathered seven more children.
  • // 1843
    In 1843, he was elected to the House of Commons from Durham. He led deputations to the home-secretary and to the representatives of the Board of Trade, seeking the repeal of the Corn Laws.
  • // 1843
    In his first speech in the Commons in 1843, he supported the motion by liberal politician William Ewart calling for lesser import duties. However, the motion was defeated.
  • // 1846
    In 1846, John Bright’s fight against the unjust Corn-law bore fruit when PM Robert Peel’s government passed a law that cut the duty on oats, barley and wheat to only one shilling per quarter.
  • // 1854
    He opposed the aggressive foreign policy of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Lord Palmerston. He agreed with Cobden’s views on the Crimean War that began in 1854, and campaigned against it.
  • // 1857
    The British public passionately supported their government’s war efforts. In the General Election of 1857, Bright lost his seat but was reelected in a by-election. He never changed his stance on the war.
  • // 1857
    In 1857, the Indian Mutiny broke out. He held the British misrule responsible for the Mutiny and supported the idea of allowing the Indians to elect their own government.
  • // 1858
    He supported universal suffrage and declared in a speech in 1858, that only 1/6 of adult males had the vote in Britain. He also sought the introduction of secret ballot and redrawing of constituencies.
  • // 1860
    The first to broach the issue of free trade with France in the parliament, he supported Cobden’s effort in the direction. The Cobde-Chevalier Treaty or the Anglo-French Free Trade treaty was signed in 1860.
  • // 1867
    The 1867 Reform Act was a victory for him, as it gave the vote to every male adult householder living in a constituency; smaller constituencies were also redrawn, keeping in mind their population.
  • // 1868
    Appointed as President of the Board of Trade by Prime Minister Gladstone in 1868, he saw many measures close to his heart being passed, including reforms in education and the introduction of secret ballot.
  • // 1886
    Oxford presented John Bright an honorary Doctor of Civil Law in 1886. It is the second highest degree awarded by the University after Doctor of Divinity and is usually awarded to heads of states.
  • // 27th Mar 1889
    Suffering from lung congestion complicated by diabetes and chronic nephritis, he died on March 27, 1889, in his home, One Ash, and was buried in Rochdale. A funeral service was held at Westminster Abbey.

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John Bright's FAQ

  • What is John Bright birthday?

    John Bright was born at 1811-11-16

  • When was John Bright died?

    John Bright was died at 1889-03-27

  • Which age was John Bright died?

    John Bright was died at age 77

  • Where is John Bright's birth place?

    John Bright was born in Rochdale, Lancashire

  • What is John Bright nationalities?

    John Bright's nationalities is British

  • Who is John Bright spouses?

    John Bright's spouses is Elizabeth Priestman

  • Who is John Bright siblings?

    John Bright's siblings is Jacob Bright

  • Who is John Bright childrens?

    John Bright's childrens is William Leatham Bright

  • What is John Bright's political ideology?

    John Bright's political ideology is Liberal

  • Who is John Bright's father?

    John Bright's father is Jacob Bright

  • Who is John Bright's mother?

    John Bright's mother is Martha Wood

  • What is John Bright's sun sign?

    John Bright is Scorpio

  • How famous is John Bright?

    John Bright is famouse as British Radical and Liberal Politician