Politicians in The Parliamentary Archives: William Ewart Gladstone

Document 1: Photograph of William Ewart Gladstone, c.1858 (PHO/1/1/31)

William Ewart Gladstone (1809-1898) was Liberal Prime Minister four times in the late 19th century.  His first government, 1868-74, disestablished the Irish church (1869), reformed the education system (1870) and established the secret ballot (1872).  His second government, 1880-85, passed the Irish Land Act in 1881 and the third Reform Act in 1884.  His final two administrations, February-July 1886 and 1892-94, were dominated by the (failed) attempt to pass the Irish Home Rule Bill.

The following exhibition features images of Gladstone from among the archive collections of the House of Commons Library.  These collections are currently looked after by, and accessible from, The House of Lords Record Office (The Parliamentary Archives).

Document 1: Photograph of William Ewart Gladstone, c.1858 (PHO/1/1/31)

One of the collections of the House of Commons Library (PHO) contains over 3200 photographs dating from the 19th century.  The photograph above is from this collection.  Dating from around 1858, it is the earliest photograph of Gladstone held in the Parliamentary Archives.  It was taken by Maull and Polyblank, a company based in London which specialised in portrait photography.

Document 2: Photograph of William Ewart Gladstone, 1865 (PHO/10/1/10)

Gladstone 1865

The photograph above is from an album featuring the politicians who were in the cabinet of Viscount Palmerston in 1865.  It was taken by William Walker of London.

Document 3: Photograph of William Ewart Gladstone, late 1880s (PHO/7/1/35)

Gladstone 1880s

The photograph above is from a large album of the late 1880s, consisting of over 300 images of politicians.  The photographs were taken by Russell and Sons of London.

Document 4: Caricature of William Ewart Gladstone by Harry Furniss, [1880s-1890s] (HC/LB/1/112/102)

Furniss

Another of the House of Commons Library collections consists of 400 pen and ink sketches by the caricaturist Harry Furniss (1854-1925), who worked for 'Punch' during the 1880s and 1890s.  Many of the sketches in the collection feature Gladstone, who was always drawn by Furniss with over-sized collars.  Documents 4 and 5 are two sketches from this collection.

Document 5:  Caricature of William Ewart Gladstone by Harry Furniss for 'Punch', 31 Jan 1891 (HC/LB/1/112/88)

Jester

Document 6: Sketch of William Ewart Gladstone by Sir Francis Carruthers Gould, [1890s] (HC/LB/1/37)

Gould

The sketch (above) is from a House of Commons Library collection which consists of sketches by the cartoonist Sir Francis Carruthers Gould (1844-1925), and his unpublished autobiography.  In his autobiography, Gould describes Gladstone in 1893, "It was impossible for any visitor to the House not to be attracted by that face and figure.  An old, age-lined face, pallid as parchment, and fringed with white hair, with dark eyebrows and keen dark eyes, a firm but mobile mouth, and a profile like an old eagle.  A spare but well knit, upright figure, a somewhat old-fashioned style of dress, and that was Mr Gladstone…."

Document 7: Photograph of William Ewart Gladstone lying in state in Westminster Hall, 28 May 1898 (HC/LB/1/111/7/13)

Gladstone coffin

The last two documents in this exhibition come from a collection of around 500 photographs by Sir Benjamin Stone.  The photograph above shows Gladstone lying in state in Westminster Hall, before his funeral in Westminster Abbey on 28 May 1898.

Document 8: Photograph of the statue of William Ewart Gladstone in the Palace of Westminster, 1900 (HC/LB/1/111/13/4)

Statue

The Stone collection also contains this photograph of the statue of Gladstone that is currently located in the Central Lobby of the Palace of Westminster.  The statue was commissioned by the Liberal Party and was sculptured by Frederick William Pomeroy (1856-1924). It is eight feet high, made of Carrara marble and was unveiled by Sir Henry Campbell Bannerman on 19 May 1900.

The Parliamentary Archives also holds some images of Gladstone that were not originally from the House of Commons Library.  These include several colour cartoons by Tom Merry for  'St Stephen's Review' (MRY) and a few sketches in an album of cartoons by Sir Frank Lockwood (HL/PO/RO/1/35).

All the documents featured and mentioned above will be among those listed in the on-line catalogue of The House of Lords Record Office (the Parliamentary Archives), which will be available in 2005.

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