Derby. I. Edward Geoffrey Smith-Stanley, 14th earl of, and Baron Stanley, a British statesman, born at Knowsley Park, Lancashire, March 29, 1799, died there, Oct. 23,1869. He was educated at Eton and at Christchurch, Oxford, and was distinguished at the university for his classical attainments, gaining the prize for Latin verse in 1819. In 1821 he entered parliament as member for Stockbridge, and soon took rank among the ablest debaters and most prominent leaders of the whig opposition to the ministry of the earl of Liverpool, He was elected member for Preston, Lancashire, in 1826, and on March 11, 1827, took office as under secretary for the colonies in Canning's administration, which office he continued to hold in the Goderich cabinet until its dissolution in January, 1828. During the three years of the Wellington government he figured among the prominent orators and statesmen in the house of commons. On the formation of the reform cabinet of Lord Grey in 1830, he was appointed chief secretary for Ireland, with a seat in the cabinet.
He failed of reelection from Preston, and represented the borough of Windsor from 1830 to 1832, when he was returned by one of the divisions of Lancashire. In the great struggle of 1832-'3, which resulted in the passage of the reform bill, the church temporalities bill, and the bill to establish national education in Ireland, Mr. Stanley took a brilliant and effective part, and was the strongest antagonist of O'Connell in his agitation for a repeal of the union. In 1833 he exchanged the office of chief secretary for Ireland for that of secretary of state for the colonies, being nominated to this post with the special object of carrying the abolition of slavery in the West Indies, which was effected under his auspices. In the following year, on the succession of his father to the earldom, he became known by the courtesy title of Lord Stanley, and in the same year retired from the cabinet in consequence of his non-concurrence with the ministerial proposition to appropriate the surplus funds of the Irish church establishment for secular education.
In the brief administration of Sir Robert Peel (December, 1834, to April, 1835), Lord Stanley refused to take office, and long before the close of Lord Melbourne's administration he and his followers were found voting steadily with the conservative opposition, as avowed members of that party. In 1841 the whigs went out of office, and Sir Robert Peel formed a cabinet in which Lord Stanley occupied a seat as colonial secretary. In 1844, while his father was still living, he was summoned by writ to the house of lords as Baron Stanley of Bickerstaffe,and assumed the leadership of the conservative party in that body.
When Sir Robert Peel resolved in 1845 to adopt a free-trade policy, and remove prohibitive duties on foreign grain and breadstuffs, Lord Stanley left the cabinet and became the leader of the protectionist opposition. When, in December, 1845, Sir Robert tendered his resignation to the queen, Lord Stanley was invited by her majesty, at the instance of Lord John Russell, to form a protectionist cabinet, but he declined. During the six years of Lord John Russell's tenure of the premiership, Lord Stanley added to his already high fame as an orator and a statesman by his course as leader of the opposition in the house of lords. His speech on the Irish poor laws in 1849, that on the affairs of Greece in 1850, and his explanation of the reasons why he declined the premiership in February, 1851, when Lord John Russell's ministry were defeated in the house of commons on Mr. Locke King's motion for an extension of the franchise, are among the most remarkable of his forensic efforts. On the death of his father, June 30, 1851, he succeeded to the earldom and the vast ancestral estates of his family in England and Ireland. On Feb. 20, 1852, Lord John Russell having sustained another defeat on the militia bill, Lord Derby was again called to construct a cabinet, and succeeded in performing the task; but failing to obtain the support of parliament for his financial measures, he resigned in December of the same year.
On the fall of the coalition ministry of Lord Aberdeen in 1855, he refused an invitation to form a new cabinet; but on the resignation of Lord Palmer-ston in 1858, he took the seals once more as first lord of the treasury. Being defeated on a measure of parliamentary reform, he dissolved parliament; but the new house of commons passed a vote of want of confidence in June, 1859, and he was consequently forced to resign. For seven years he remained out of office, and during that period devoted much time to the study of the classics. His translation of Homer's Iliad in blank verse, published in 1864, is one of the best versions of the great epic. He became prime minister a third time on the fall of the liberal ministry of Lord Russell in June, 1866, and under his administration the reform bill of 1867, establishing household suffrage, was passed. The new parliament, chosen on the issue of the disestablishment of the church in Ireland, was found to be strongly opposed to the government, and in February, 1868, Lord Derby resigned.
A statue in his honor was erected at Preston in 1873. II. Edward Henry Smith-Stanley, 15th earl, son of the preceding, born at Knowsley Park, July 21, 1826. He was educated at Rugby, and at Trinity college, Cambridge, where he took a first class in classics in 1848. Having been unsuccessful as a candidate for parliament from Lancashire in March, 1848, he set out on a tour of the United States, Canada, and the West Indies, and during his absence was returned from Lynn Regis, which he continued to represent until he succeeded to the peerage. After his return in 1850 he made an able speech in the house of commons on the condition and administration of the sugar colonies. He next made a visit to the East, and while in India, in March, 1852, was appointed under secretary for foreign affairs in his father's first administration. In 1853 he submitted a plan for the reform of the administration of India, more thorough than that contemplated by the existing ministry, and foreshadowing that adopted in 1858. Though he was a conspicuous member of the conservative party, Lord Palmerston offered him a place in the cabinet in 1855, which he declined.
He became secretary for the colonies in the second Derby cabinet in 1858, and on the resignation of Lord Ellenborough in May became president of the board of control, with the title of her majesty's commissioner for the affairs of India. The transfer of the management of Indian affairs from the East India company to the officers of the crown was effected under his direction, and he became the first secretary of state for India. In the third administration of Lord Derby, in 1866, he became secretary of state for foreign affairs, and conducted with marked success the negotiations for the settlement of the Luxemburg difficulty. He went out of office on the accession of Mr. Gladstone in December, 1868, and on April 1, 1869, was installed lord rector of the university of Glasgow. On the death of his father in October, 1869, he took his seat in the house of lords, of which he became one of the most influential members. In 1870 he married the dowager marchioness of Salisbury, and on Feb. 20, 1874, resumed the direction of foreign affairs as a member of Mr. Disraeli's cabinet.