Benjamin Disraeli

1804Born on 21 December in London, he was the first son and second of five children. His parents were Isaac D'Israeli and Maria Basevi.
1817-21Disraeli attended Higham Hall School in Walthamstow.
1821He was articled to a company of Solicitors in Old Jewry, London.
1824He was admitted as a student to Lincoln's Inn.
1825The first issue of The Representative appeared. This was a daily newspaper which Disraeli and his friend John Murray established. It lasted for only a few months.
1826 Disraeli's first novel, Vivien Grey was published.
1827 Disraeli's name was entered as a prospective Barrister at Lincoln's Inn.
1831 He withdrew from Lincoln's Inn in order to pursue a career in writing.
1832 Disraeli stood for parliament for the first time as an Independent Radical at a by-election in Wycombe. He failed to be elected.
1834 Disraeli met Lord Lyndhurst, the former Tory Lord Chancellor, for the first time. Lyndhurst became Disraeli's patron.
1835 Having been defeated three times in parliamentary elections, standing as an Independent Radical, Disraeli joined the Tory party. He lost the by-election at Taunton but became an official Tory candidate.
He quarrelled publicly with and challenged Daniel O'Connell to a duel. The police intervened and Disraeli was bound over to keep the peace.
He joined in the attack on the Municipal Corporations Act by writing (anonymously) fourteen leading articles in the Morning Post.
He published A Vindication of the English Constitution in a Letter to a Noble and Learned Lord by Disraeli the Younger.
1836 Disraeli wrote a series of nineteen open letters in The Times under the pseudonym "Runnymede," lampooning individual members of Melbourne's Whig government.
July 1837Elected for the first time, Disraeli became MP for Maidstone in the General Election following the accession of Queen Victoria.
December 1837Disraeli made his maiden speech on the subject of Irish elections. He was shouted down by fellow MPs but ended his speech with the words, "I sit down now but the time will come when you will hear me."
His second speech that month, which was dull, was more successful.
1839 July: In a debate on the Poor Law, Disraeli expressed sympathy with the Chartists.
August: He married Mary Anne Wyndham Lewis. He made no secret of the fact that he married her for her money. Mary-Anne was twelve years his senior.
June 1840Disraeli was one of only five MPs who protested at the harsh treatment of the Chartist leaders.
1841 June: Elected as MP for Shrewsbury in the General Election, things did not go well for Disraeli and legal proceedings about his alleged bribery of electors continued for several months.
August: Peel became Prime Minister. Disraeli, who was desperate for office, wrote to Peel but was not made a member of the government.
1842 A group calling itself "Young England" emerged in parliament. It comprised George Smythe, Lord John Manners, Alexander Baillie-Cochrane and Disraeli.
1844Coningsby was published.
1845Sybil was published.
1845 February: Disraeli made his famous speech in the House of Commons in which he attacked the Prime Minister, Peel, for ignoring the wishes of the Conservative Party.
Tancred was published.
1846 January: A number of MPs establish a "protectionist" group to co-ordinate opposition to Peel. Bentinck, Disraeli and O'Brien led the attacks on Peel over the proposed repeal of the Corn Laws.
May: Disraeli launched a series of vicious attacks on Peel in the debate on the Corn Laws. Peel accused Disraeli of touting for office in 1841, which Disraeli denied — a downright lie.
Repeal of the Corn Laws.
June: Peel resigned after his defeat on the Irish Coercion Bill. Lord John Russell formed a ministry.
1847 September: In the General Election the parties were evenly divided and Russell continued as Prime Minister. Disraeli stood for election as the Buckinghamshire county candidate after his purchase of Hughenden Manor. He took his seat on the opposition front bench with Peel.
December: Disraeli supported the government over the removal of civil disabilities for Jews.
1848 Disraeli effectively became Leader of the Opposition in parliament.
1850 Peel died following a riding accident.
1852 February: Lord John Russell resigned and the Earl of Derby (Tory) became Prime Minister. Disraeli was appointed as Chancellor of the Exchequer in the "Who? Who?" Ministry.
July: After the General Election, no party had an overall majority and Derby continued as Prime Minister.
December: Disraeli's first Budget speech lasted for five hours. Gladstone replied and this marked the beginning of the great parliamentary conflict between the two men. The government was defeated in the vote on the Budget and Derby resigned.
December: Aberdeen formed a coalition government and Gladstone succeeded Disraeli as Chancellor of the Exchequer.
1853 Disraeli began publication of his weekly newspaper, The Press, which ran for five years.
1855Aberdeen was forced to resign after a vote of No Confidence. Palmerston became Prime Minister.
1858Derby took office as Prime Minister and Disraeli resumed his position of Chancellor of the Exchequer.
1859February: Derby's government was defeated by a Liberal alliance over the proposed Reform Bill.
June: Palmerston became Prime Minister for the last time.
1866Following the defeat of the Reform Bill, Lord John Russell resigned. Derby formed another ministry and Disraeli again became Chancellor of the Exchequer. He appointed Monty Corrie as his Private Secretary. Corrie remained a close friend and proved to be indispensable to Disraeli after Mary-Anne's death.
1867 The second Reform Act became law. This was a piece of Tory legislation.
1868 February: Disraeli became Prime Minister for the first time following Derby's resignation because of ill health. Disraeli's comment at the time was, "I have climbed to the top of the greasy pole."
November: The Liberals won the General Election following the completion of the new electoral register.
December: Disraeli resigned as Prime Minister without meeting parliament. He asked the Queen to give a peerage to his wife. Mary-Anne was created Viscountess Beaconsfield.
Gladstone became Prime Minister for the first time.
1870 Lothair was published.
1872Mary-Anne died.
1874The Conservatives won the General Election and Disraeli became Prime Minister for the second time.
1875-80 Disraeli's second ministry passed a spate of social legislation and became known as the "Ministry of Sewage". Legislation included:
two Trade Unions Acts
the Public Health Act
the Artisans' Dwelling Act
a Factory Act
the Sale of Food and Drugs Act
1876June: The Bulgarian Atrocities took place but Disraeli questioned the truthfulness of the reports in the Daily News
August: Disraeli made his last speech in the House of Commons and moved up to the House of Lords as the Earl of Beaconsfield.
September: Gladstone attacked the government's foreign policy in his pamphlet, The Bulgarian Horrors and the Question of the East.
1877The Russo-Turkish War broke out.
Queen Victoria was proclaimed as Empress of India.
1878March: the Treaty of San Stephano was signed between Russia and Turkey which created Bulgaria.
June: The Congress of Berlin took place, attended by Disraeli and Salisbury.
July: Treaty of Berlin. Disraeli and Salisbury were invested with the Order of the Garter on their return to London.
1879The Zulu Wars began in South Africa.
1880In the General Election the Liberals were returned and Gladstone formed his second ministry. Disraeli became Leader of the Opposition from the House of Lords.
19 April 1881 Disraeli died. The Queen was prevented (by protocol) from attending his funeral but she visited his grave later and had a monument to him erected in Hughenden Church.

Last modified 11 October 2002 >