Record

CodeNA5161
Dates1800-1859
Person NameMacaulay; Thomas Babington (1800-1859); Baron Macaulay of Rothley; historian
SurnameMacaulay
ForenamesThomas Babington
TitleBaron Macaulay of Rothley
Epithethistorian
ActivityThomas Babington Macaulay, Baron Macaulay of Rothley (1800-1859), historian, was born at Rothley Temple, Leicestershire, the eldest child of Zachary Macaulay. He could read by the age of three, and had an exceptional memory. Macauley was first taught as a day-boy. At age seven he began a 'compendium of universal history', at eight he wrote a religious treatise and then began writing poetry and hymns. In 1812 he was sent to a school run by Rev Preston and went on to study at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he won: Latin prizes; Craven Scholarship, 1821; and the English poem prize, 1819 and 1821. He was not good at mathematics and was refused honours because of it. Macaulay was eventually elected a fellow of Trinity in 1824, having been refused twice previously. He was called to the bar in 1826 and joined the northern circuit but he gave up the study of law after a couple of years to concentrate on his literary career and develop his interest in politics. He contributed regularly to the 'Edinburgh', which offered him its editorship but he turned it down.

In 1828 he was made a Commissioner in Bankruptcy and in 1830 he became a MP. In 1832 he was appointed a Commissioner of the Board of Control and in 1833 he accepted a seat on the Supreme Council of India. He was appointed president of the commision for the composition of a criminal code for India in 1835. He returned to England in 1838 and continued with his writing. In 1839 Macaulay was elected MP for Edinburgh and created Secretary at War. In 1842 he proposed a bill on copyright which became law and in 1846 he was appointed Paymaster-General. Macaulay was elected Rector of the University of Glasgow, 1848-1850. In 1852, despite not having presented himself as a candidate as he prefered to continue with his literary work, he was elected to represent Edinburgh. However during this period of service his health broke down and, in 1856, he accepted the Chiltern Hundreds. In 1857 he was granted the title Baron Macaulay of Rothley and was elected High Steward of the Borough of Cambridge. Macaulay's publications include: 'Lays of Ancient Rome' (1842); 'History' (1842 and 1855).
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