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The Lichfield House Compact

In November 1834 Lord Althorp left the House of Commons in order to succeed his father as Earl Spencer in the House of Lords. Melbourne, the Prime Minister, found it difficult to maintain an effective government. He told the king, William IV, of his difficulties in a long and confidential interview at Brighton Pavilion and the king, who had lost all faith in the government and strongly disliked Melbourne's proposal to promote Lord John Russell, decided to use the opportunity to dismiss the ministry. William IV asked the Duke of Wellington to form a ministry instead. Wellington agreed to serve, but only until Sir Robert Peel, who was travelling in Italy, returned to London.

In December 1834 Sir Robert Peel formed his first ministry: it was the first Conservative ministry but it was also a minority government and he called for a dissolution of parliament almost immediately. The main body of Whigs joined forces with the Irish, led by Daniel O'Connell to drive Peel from office. Lord Lichfield lent his house to the Whig leaders for a series of meetings in February and March 1835. It was here that O'Connell reached an understanding with Russell in February 1835 in the so-called Lichfield House Compact, whereby the Whigs were assured of Irish votes in the Commons in return for promising to consider some reforming legislation for Ireland. Peel's government was defeated over the question of Irish Church revenues and he subsequently resigned.


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Last modified 4 March, 2016

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