William Ewart Gladstone, the fourth son of Sir John Gladstone, was born in Liverpool on 29th December, 1809. Gladstone was a MP and a successful Liverpool merchant. William was educated at Eton and Christ College, Oxford. At the Oxford Union Debating Society Gladstone developed a reputation as a fine orator. At university Gladstone was a Tory and denounced Whig proposals for parliamentary reform.
In 1832, the Duke of Newcastle was looking for a Conservative candidate for his Newark constituency. Although a nomination borough, Newark had been spared in the 1832 Reform Act. Sir John Gladstone was a friend of the Duke of Newcastle and suggested his son would make a good MP.
Two years after entering the House of Commons as MP for Newark, Sir Robert Peel, the Prime Minister, appointed William Gladstone as his junior lord of the Treasury. The following year he was promoted to under-secretary for the colonies. Gladstone lost office when Peel resigned in 1835 but returned to the government when the Whigs were forced out of power in August, 1841. Gladstone now became vice-president of the board of trade and in 1843 was promoted to the post of president. In 1844 Gladstone was responsible for the Railway Bill that introduced what became known as parliamentary trains. As a result of this legislation railway companies had to transport third-class travellers for fares that did not exceed a penny a mile. These parliamentary trains had to stop at every station and had to travel at not less than 12 miles an hour.
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