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Villiers, Charles Pelham

VILLIERS, CHARLES PELHAM (1802-1898), English statesman, son of George Villiers, grandson of the 1st earl of Clarendon of the second (Villiers) creation, and brother of the 4th earl (q.v.), was born in London on the 3rd of January 1802, and educated at St John's College, Cambridge. He read for the bar at Lincoln's Inn, and became an associate of the Benthamites and " philosophical radicals " of the day. He was an assistant commissioner to the Poor Law Commission (1832), and in 1833 was made by the master of the Rolls, whose secretary he had been, a chancery examiner of witnesses, holding this office till 1852. In 1835 he was elected M.P. for Wolverhampton, and retained his seat till his death. He was the pioneer of the free-trade movement, and became prominent with Cobden and Bright as one of its chief supporters, being indefatigable in pressing the need for free trade on the House of Commons, by resolution and by petition. After free trade triumphed in 1846 his importance in politics became rather historical than actual, especially as he advanced to a venerable old age; but he was president of the Poor Law Board, with a seat in the Cabinet, from 1859 to 1866, and he did other useful work in the Liberal reforms of the time. Like Bright, he parted from Mr Gladstone on Home Rule for Ireland. He attended parliament for the last time in 1895, and died on the 16th of January 1898.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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