|Jack the Ripper: A Suspect Guide|
|This text is from the E-book Jack the Ripper: A Suspect Guide by Christopher J. Morley (2005). Click here to return to the table of contents. The text is unedited, and any errors or omissions rest with the author. Our thanks go out to Christopher J. Morley for his permission to publish his E-book.|
William Ewart Gladstone
William Ewart Gladstone was born on 29 December 1809 in Rodney Street, Liverpool. He was the fourth son, and fifth child, of a family of six, born to Sir John Gladstone, a sugar plantation owner, and Anne Mackenzie Robertson. William was educated at Eton 1821-1827 and Christ Church, Oxford 1828- 1831. He initially favoured a career in the church, however his father persuaded him that he could do as much good in politics. He entered parliament as the Tory MP for Newark in December 1832 and in his maiden speech defended his father against allegations that he had mistreated his slaves on their West Indian plantation. He married Catherine Glynne, the daughter of Sir Stephen Glynne, and they had eight children, four boys and four girls. Appointed Vice President of the Board of Trade in 1841, and later President of the Board of Trade in 1843. When the Tory Party broke apart in 1846, Gladstone, now believing strongly in free trade, followed Peel in becoming a Liberal-Conservative. He returned to Parliament in 1847 as MP for Oxford University, having lost his Newark seat, and in 1853 was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer in Lord Aberdeen's coalition government. As Chancellor, Gladstone abolished many tariffs and lowered others, one of his first acts was to order the Foreign Office to stop using large thick sheets of double notepaper, when thinner sheets would do. He also reduced income tax, though the costs of the Crimean War forced him to raise it again. He was Chancellor again under Palmerston, between 1859 and 1865, and again under Russell 1865-66. Four times Prime Minister 1868-1874, 1880-85, 1886, 1892-94, his total time as Prime Minister was 12 years and 126 days. Nicknamed 'grand old man', he was still in the House of Commons as late as 1895 at the age of 86. As Prime Minister he was an active legislator and reformer, his government passed the Education Act 1870 that established school boards and made elementary education compulsory for children between the ages of five and thirteen. In 1873 he passed laws restructuring the High Courts. In later years his ministry became dominated by Irish affairs, a supporter of home rule for Ireland the Irish home rule bill-1892, which he had first championed in 1886 never made it through the House of Lords, he resigned as a result and left office in 1894.
More than most parliamentarians of the time he proved an ability to connect with the Victorian working classes. Famous for his spirited debates with Disraeli, there was no friendship between them throughout their long political lives, and for his attempts at fighting the social evil of prostitution, he would invite prostitutes home for tea, in the hope of persuading them to change their ways. This practice caused him much ridicule and the risk of possible scandal throughout his political career. Some writers have suggested that he took this reforming zeal a little further than he should, and was in fact Jack the Ripper. In 1888 at the time of the Whitechapel murders, Gladstone was almost 80 years old, and therefore could not possibly have been mistaken for someone of 28/35 years of age, which is the age many of the eyewitnesses described Jack the Ripper. Gladstone died from cancer at the age of 88 on 19 May 1898 at Hawarden Castle Flint, and is buried in Westminster Abbey.
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