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Keywords:

  • house of lords;
  • lord chancellor;
  • Grenville;
  • Thurlow;
  • Eldon;
  • Lyndhurst;
  • Liverpool

From 1783 to 1846 lord chancellors played an important role in managing the business of the house of lords. Not surprisingly, as the career of Lord Thurlow will illustrate, their position was not as strong as it had been before 1783 when the office of leader of the House was created. Before then a chancellor could manage the House by himself, as Thurlow did, and Eldon from 1801 to 1803 when there was no regular leader. Yet even when there was a leader, a chancellor could be a major force. Lord Grenville, the first strong leader, yearned for one who would play the role of an active second-in-command. Eldon played it, but more at the beginning than toward the end of his career. This was because of clashes with Lord Liverpool, who had been leader of the House before he became prime minister. But long since, Eldon had become a power in his own right as the revered head of the high tories. Lord Lyndhurst played the role to perfection because of his long partnership with the duke of Wellington, who trusted and admired him.