After the Whigs became subsumed into the Liberal party, did the label survive in the House of Lords? As of today, the longest serving current peer began his tenure during the Second World War. It seems reasonable that the Whigs could have survived as a faction into the twentieth century. Was there any peer who thought of himself as a Whig by, say, 1920?

Since there's new interest in this question, I'll refine it slightly. When was the last person who identified himself as a Whig rather than a Liberal, Conservative or Liberal Unionist in the House of Lords?

  • 4
    Probably not. The break away of non-liberal Whigs happened about 30 years before the 1920s. The partial restoration of the term Whig into the popular narrative can be traced to 20th century revisionist historians of one stripe or another; hence anachronistically bringing forward the classical Whig into a 1920s political ecology where doesn't quite belong. As most politicians would already have been hewing to the more 'modern' ideological left-right dichotomy by that point. – LateralFractal Nov 17 '14 at 22:57
  • I didn't post as an answer since the in's and out's of late 19th century Whig/Tory history are not within my area of familiarity. @SamuelRussell would you like to take a stab at this one? – LateralFractal Nov 17 '14 at 23:30
  • And in Canada, just to be different eh!, we had and have Tories but always Grits instead of Whigs - must have something to do with now our Liberal Party survived and prospered. – Pieter Geerkens Nov 9 '15 at 1:17
  • 1
    Wiki tells us that the Earl of Granville stopped being Leader of the Whigs and started being Leader of the Liberals in 1859 but alas that's all I could find. I cannot rule out the possibility of some holdouts remaining Whig even later. – Felix Goldberg Jan 31 '17 at 13:00

I wrote to some public-inquiry offices of the UK Parliament and received a statement attributed to Alistair Cooke, Baron Lexden, historian of the Conservative Party:

Lord Melbourne, Prime Minister 1834-41, is generally regarded as the last Whig party leader. The last Whig politician is generally thought to be as Lord Lansdowne who defected from the Liberals in the 1880s, remaining active in politics at a senior level until the end of the First World War in alliance with the Conservatives."

Nonetheless, Wikipedia indicates that Earl Granville succeeded Lansdowne as Leader of the Whig Party in the House of Lords. His tenure ended with the initiation of the Liberal project in 1859, when the Whig Party was apparently abandoned. Seating charts which I could not find might yet reveal which parliamentary groups were present in a given year.

Two apparently figurative uses of "Whig" appear in the titles of in the book The Last of the Whigs: A Political Biography of Lord Hartington, Later Eighth Duke of Devonshire (1833-1908) and the article The Last Whig: Lord Hartington as Liberal Leader, 1875-80.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.