The 19th Century was a time of considerable social and political change. The Nation enjoyed a prolonged period of peace after victory at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 brought the Napoleonic wars to an end. The population of pre-Waterloo Britain had doubled by the 1870s, and there were significant demographic changes as people were drawn increasingly to cities as part of the rising business, commercial and manufacturing interests. It was an era of great prosperity and the city of London became the financial capital of the world.
Much of the political system, the political parties and the parliamentary franchise as we know them today were developed during the 19th Century. Public pressure for reform led to it being hotly debated in successive administrations.
Peel, Gladstone and Disraeli may have dominated the politics, but countless other parliamentarians played key roles. These included Richard Cobden the great exponent of free trade, William Wilberforce who fought for the abolition of slavery and John Bright one of the most ardent and vociferous voices for reform.