CollectionGB 0231 University of Aberdeen, Special Collections
Ref NoMS 3063
TitleBenjamin Disraeli and Lord Patrick Robertson: Rectorial Election ephemera
Extent1 file: 0.01 linear metres
Administrative HistoryA son of the author Isaac D'Israeli, Benjamin Disraeli was born in London in 1804. He entered Lincoln's Inn Fields in 1824 but was not destined for the law, preferring literature. He published his first novel in 1826 - 1827 and was an instant success, but left England to travel on the continent till 1831. He contested several parliamentary seats but was not successful until 1837 in Maidstone, Kent, spending the intervening time writing on political subjects as well as completing several more novels, and enjoying himself in society. He seems to have thought well of himself, to judge by his correspondence with his sister, but was vindictive and unforgiving in his political activities. His maiden speech in the House of Commons was famously met with derision, but there were members who saw great promise in him - Sir Robert Peel (1788-1850) among them - and helped him to learn how to make speeches to greater effect. He was already succeeding by 1839, when he also made an advantageous marriage to the widow of a friend: not only was she wealthy, but the marriage was also an extremely happy one. Two years later he won the Shrewsbury seat in Sir Robert Peel's government, though later they came to disagree fiercely over free trade. Disraeli had a talent for explaining his politics in his novels, which brought them to much greater public attention than political tracts ever would have done. However, he had little time for that when he became leader of the Tory party in the Commons in 1848. He reformed and reorganised the party which was in a poor state, suffering from political divisions concerning the constitution. This period was analysed in his book 'Life of Lord George Bentinck' in 1852. Having tried to bring down the opposition by political gossip in a newspaper he sponsored himself, Disraeli was forced to wait through the Crimean War for a chance to be in government. The chance passed by, and events took a different turn: the Conservative party remained in opposition except for a brief period in 1858, during which he was Chancellor of the Exchequer and Leader of the House of Commons. Lord Palmerston, the leader of the Whig party, was extremely popular and powerful, and Disraeli, who could do little against him, was becoming increasingly unpopular with his own party. Lord Palmerston died in 1865, and his successors fell under the onslaught of the battle over the Reform Bill: Lord Derby, the Tory leader in the Lords, resigned when the Reform Bill became law in 1867 and Disraeli became Prime Minister until a general election in November of that year. Thereafter the Irish question was the principal bone of contention between him and Gladstone (1854-1930), the Whig prime minister. Gladstone resigned in 1873 and the Queen asked Disraeli to form a government: he declined, but when the Tories won a general election the following year, he again became Prime Minister. His wife had died six years before and he himself was sixty-nine, and he had lost enthusiasm for the schemes he had been planning in all his years in opposition. He was made Earl of Beaconsfield in 1876 and led the party in the Lords instead. The war in South Africa, however, led to a state of some unrest, and the Tories again lost a general election in 1880. Disraeli resigned, and Gladstone was once more Prime Minister. Though Disraeli carried on speaking in the Lords for another session, he died the following spring after a short illness.

Patrick, Lord Robertson (1794 - 1855), born in Edinburgh, called to the Scottish Bar in 1815, made Dean of the Faculty of Advocates in 1842, and an ordinary lord of session in 1843. He defeated Disraeli in the 1848 Marischal College rectorial election, and was awarded an honorary LL.D. He died in Edinburgh of apoplexy. Robertson won the election.
SourceThe papers were presented to the library by Mrs/Miss Eleanor Pearse, whose father, brother and uncle were students at Marischal College, Aberdeen, and who lived in Paignton, Devon, in 1953.
DescriptionEphemera relating to the rectorial election for Marischal College, Aberdeen, including posters, verses, reports and notes, 1848.
Access StatusOpen
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