|Sir Robert Peel (Source)|
Sir Robert Peel, 1st Baronet (25 April 1750 – 3 May 1830), was a British politician and industrialist and one of early textile manufacturers of the Industrial Revolution. He was the father of Sir Robert Peel, twice Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
Peel's father Robert Peel and grandfather William Peele were yeoman farmers who were also engaged in the infant textile industry, then organised on the basis of the domestic system (most of the work being undertaken in the home).
Like many others, Peel joined partnerships to raise the capital required to set up spinning mills. These were water powered (usually using the water frame invented by Richard Arkwright), and thus located by rivers and streams in country districts. Thus Peel and Yates set up a mill and housing for their workers at Burrs near Bury. As elsewhere, the shortage of labour in the rural districts was mitigated by employing pauper children as 'apprentices', imported from any locality that wanted them off their hands. They were housed in a kind of hostel.
Peel became quite rich, and lived at Chamber Hall in Bury, where his more famous son was born. Peel was listed as a subscriber to the Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal navigation in 1791. He also built the first factory in nearby Radcliffe.
In politics, Peel was a 'Church and King' Tory and a staunch supporter of William Pitt the Younger. This was unusual, as many of the Lancashire mill owners were nonconformist and radical in their outlook. In 1790 he was elected Member of Parliament for Tamworth, having bought the borough along with Lord Bath's estate in the area, and carried these principles into political life. He made Drayton Manor in Staffordshire his principal residence and started to adopt the lifestyle of a country gentleman. In 1800 he was created a Baronet, of Drayton Manor in the County of Stafford and of Bury in the County Palatine of Lancaster. Concerned at the working conditions for children in the cotton industry, and even more concerned that some of his mills had been run by their 'overseers' (managers) contrary to his own paternalistic intentions, in 1802, he introduced the Health and Morals of Apprentices Act, legislation that tried to limit the number of hours that apprentice children worked in the mills, and obliged the mill owners to provide some form of schooling. In 1815, at the urging of Robert Owen, he introduced a Bill introducing stricter limits on the hours childen (whether or not apprentices) could work in textile mills; in 1819 this was passed (heavily amended, and applying only to the cotton industry) as the Cotton Mills and Factories Act. In 1817, he retired from business, the various partnerships which had operated his mills being dissolved. In the 1818 General Election, Peel and his son William had been the two MPs returned by Tamworth in a contested election ; in 1820 Peel left Parliament (restoring the traditional arrangement at Tamworth of returning un-contested one MP of the proprietor's choosing and one representing other local interests).
Peel married as his first wife Ellen Yates (the daughter of his partner) on 8 July 1783. They had eleven children, including:
Peel had high hopes for his children, especially his eldest son, Robert, who he would make repeat the substance of each Sunday's sermon after mass. Peel accepted that he would not mingle with high society, but intended to prepare his son to be able to.
- Sir Robert Peel, 2nd Baronet, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
- William Yates Peel, MP and politician.
- Edmund Peel, MP and politician
- General Jonathan Peel, soldier, politician and owner of racehorses (including 'Orlando' , the winner of the 'Running Rein' Derby of 1844)
- Laurence Peel (b. 1801), MP and politician, who married Lady Jane Lennox, daughter of Charles Lennox, 4th Duke of Richmond; described by one historian as "the youngest and least talented, but perhaps the most personally attractive of the Peel brothers."
- Harriet Peel, who married the 2nd Baron Henley.
- Mary Peel who married Rt Hon George Robert Dawson and was mother to Lord Moyola's mother's father's mother.
After the death of his first wife, Peel married Susanna Clerke (sister of Sir William Clerke) on 18 October 1805. The marriage was unsuccessful and the couple eventually separated, with Susanna moving to Warwickshire. She died on 10 September 1824. Sir Robert was at the time unwell and his children represented him at the funeral.
In April 1830, Sir Robert was growing frail, though he still played whist until he was too weak to deal. He was too proud to allow his nephew to deal for him, so stopped playing. Peel died in his armchair, peacefully and without anyone noticing until hours later.
When writing the biography of his son Robert, Douglas Hurd stated that Peel had "a good life, well sustained by family pleasures, worldly success, orthodox Christian faith and a strong practical mind" His funeral was attended by the entire "corporation of Tamworth" and sixty tenants on horseback.
In his will, an equal amount to each of his sons, except Robert, to whom he left all his lands and four times the assets left to the other sons. Peel had given Robert £230,000 during his lifetime, plus £100,000 on the event of his marriage and willed him a further £154,000.It's vogue in our society to trash capitalists and portray business owners as heartless, greedy tyrants who would sell their own mothers to increase their bottom line. But it's also vogue in our society praise 'celebrities' and portray them as compassionate individuals who would sell their homes to help people (e.g. Anglina Jolie, who thinks that we open our doors to all immigrants, ignoring whether these 'refugees', are real asylum seekers, economic migrants, criminals, or indeed terrorists).
Yeah... I don't think we'll pay too much attention to what is considered vogue/fashionable by modern society. It makes much more sense to go straight to source. To the kernel, the root, the topic at hand. And in this case it's the compassion of white male capitalists, the so-called boogey men of the 21st century.
Robert Peel was one of the first to start the ball rolling in the UK when it came to legislation protecting the working conditions of factory workers. Without him the whole raft of Factory Acts, that have increased the working conditions for the poor, might not have materialised; leaving working class people (young, middle aged and old) working in appalling conditions. He made it illegal for under 9s to work in factories, for 10-16 year olds to work for more than 12 hours a day, and much more. That's right, before Robert Peel and his laws, it was acceptable to employ children and work them longer, and harder than a Chinese Coolie. That's how expendable white children were considered back in the 1700s. And it was Peel who successfully attacked that way of thinking. Without him we and our children might still be slaving away in coal mines and textile mill 14 hours a day.
And if that's not praiseworthy enough, here's what socialist Syndey Webb said about the Factory Acts in 1910:
The system of regulation which began with the protection of the tiny class of pauper apprentices in textile mills now includes within its scope every manual worker in every manufacturing industry. From the hours of labour and sanitation, the law has extended to the age of commencing work, protection against accidents, mealtimes and holidays, the methods of remuneration, and in the United Kingdom as well as in the most progressive of English-speaking communities, to the rate of wages itself. The range of Factory Legislation has, in fact, in one country or another, become co-extensive with the conditions of industrial employment. No class of manual-working wage-earners, no item in the wage-contract, no age, no sex, no trade or occupation, is now beyond its scope. This part, at any rate, of Robert Owen's social philosophy has commended itself to the practical judgment of the civilised world. It has even, though only towards the latter part of the nineteenth century, converted the economists themselves -converted them now to a " legal minimum wage " — and the advantage of Factory Legislation is now as soundly " orthodox " among the present generation of English, German, and American professors as " laisser-faire " was to their predecessors. ... Of all the nineteenth century inventions in social organisation, Factory Legislation is the most widely diffused.Not bad going for an 'Evil Capitalist' eh?!