Person NameBright; John (1811-1889); statesman
ActivityJohn Bright (1811-1889), statesman, was born in Rochdale, the son of Jacob Bright, a book-keeper and Martha Wood his second wife. He was educated at the school of William Littlewood and then, from 1822, at a Friends' school near Pontefract. From 1823-1825 he was at a school near York and then a school near Newton. He then joined his father, and later his brothers, in managing his mills. He made his first public speech in 1830 in support of the Temperance Movement. In 1833 he helped to found the Rochdale Literary and Philosophical Society were he spoke out on church rates and capital punishment. From 1833-1837 he travelled extensively and on his return concentrated on his political career, joining, in 1838, the Anti-Corn-Law Association and in 1839, the Anti-Corn-Law League. Bright married Elizabeth Priestman (d 1841) in 1839, who died, leaving a daughter, Helen, in 1841.

Bright became MP for Durham in 1843 and continued working towards the eventual repeal of the Corn Laws, after which he turned his attention to the Irish question. He married Margaret Elizabeth Leatham (d 1878) in 1847 and they had four sons and three daughters. He was elected MP for Manchester in 1847. His health broke down in 1856 and he took a break from his parliamentary work and spent some time travelling, returning as MP for Birmingham in 1858. He became President of the Board of Trade, 1868-1870, which was followed by another two year breakdown in his health. In 1872 he returned to the Commons and in 1873 became Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. Bright's second wife died in 1878. Bright was Rector of the University of Glasgow, 1880-1883. He gave his last political speech in 1886 and in the same year was granted an honorary DCL by Oxford University.
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