William Godwin's Diary


The competition for Speaker at the opening of the new parliament was seen as a test of the strength of support for the new Tory administration. James Abercromby (1776–1858), who stood at the insistence of Melbourne, was chosen over Manners Sutton (1780–1845) in what was seen as a triumph for the Whig cause. In March the ‘Lichfield House Compact’, forged by the Whigs with Liberals, Irish, dissenting and radical leaders, prepared the basis for the downfall of Peel’s administration, and the government suffered a series of defeats in the House of Commons. In April 1835, Peel (1788–1850) resigned and Melbourne (1779–1848) returned to office. The Compact had a number of hostages to fortune for the Whigs, especially the agreement with Daniel O’Connell (1775–1847) the Irish leader, that the Whigs would be committed to a number of pro-Irish measures, since this aligned them with a group with little commitment to the union between Britain and Ireland.

See The Times, 20 February 1835; Boyd Hilton, A Mad, Bad, and Dangerous People: England 1783-1846 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006) and Norman McCord, British History 1815-1906 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991), p. 143.