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Brougham Henry Peter

Brougham, Henry Peter, Baron Brougham and Vaux, was born in 1778 in Edinburgh, where at the High school and university he was educated. Called to the Scottish bar in 1800, his fame as a lawyer extended to England, and in 1808 he began to practise in London. In the following year he was returned to Parliament by Camelford, a borough in Cornwall, and soon became one of the leading speakers on the side of the Whigs.

Defeated by Canning at Liverpool in 1811, the year in which he successfully defended Leigh Hunt, who was prosecuted for the republication of an article on flogging in the army, he did not occupy a seat in Parliament until 1816, when he was returned for Winchelsea. He then advocated educational and social reforms with great vigour, joined, in 1822, Birkbeck in the mechanics' institute movement, in 1826 associated with Knight in founding the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, and took a prominent part in starting the London University. Meanwhile, in 1820, he had made his most famous and fearless appearance as an advocate in the defence of Queen Caroline, and this heightened his popularity to the highest pitch. In 1830 he denounced slavery in a powerful speech, and at the general election of that year was returned for the important constituency of the county of York. In the Reform ministry of Earl Grey he became Lord Chancellor and a peer, and in the House of Lords advocated with his usual force the necessity for reform. Thenceforth his influence waned, and when the Whigs went out, in 1834, Brougham's official life came to an end. He did much for law reform, and in a six hours' speech delivered in 1827 enumerated the defects in the different departments of English law. He was also a powerful orator, being considered as a debater inferior only to Canning. He was a voluminous writer - wrote much for the Edinburgh Review, which he took the chief part in founding, for newspapers, encyclopaedias, and several independent works. He also wrote an autobiography, which was published posthumously. He latterly resided at Cannes, where in 1835 he had built a chateau, and where in 1868 he died. He was succeeded in the title by his brother William.