Sir Robert Peel, 3rd Baronet GCB, PC was a British Peelite and later Liberal politician. The eldest son of the prime minister Robert Peel, he was educated at Harrow and Christ Church, Oxford and he served as Member of Parliament for Tamworth, his fathers constituency, from 1850 until 1880, for Huntingdon from 1884 and for Blackburn from 1885 to 1886. He was appointed Irish secretary in 1861 in Palmerstons ministry, but in 1865 and his political career was said to be marred by his lack of dignity and his inability to accept a fixed political creed. He was appointed a GCB in 1866, born in London on 4 May 1822, Peel was the eldest son of Sir Robert Peel, 2nd Baronet, the statesman, and Julia, daughter of Sir John Floyd, 1st Baronet. He went to Harrow School in February 1835 and he matriculated from Christ Church, Oxford on 26 May 1841, but did not take a degree. Entering the diplomatic service, he became an attaché to the British legation at Madrid on 18 June 1844 and he was promoted to be secretary of legation in Switzerland on 2 May 1846, and was chargé daffaires there in November 1846. On his fathers death, on 2 July 1850, and his own succession to the baronetcy, but he used his abilities fitfully. On 24 April 1854 he was shipwrecked off the coast of Genoa in the steamboat SS Ercolano, from 29 March 1854 to 1859 he served as a captain in the Staffordshire Yeomanry. In March 1855 Lord Palmerston, who had been Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs while Peel was in the diplomatic service, henceforth he was regarded as a liberal, and his persistent advocacy of the liberation of Italy fully justified this view of his political opinions. In July 1856 he acted as secretary to Lord Granvilles special mission to Russia at the coronation of Alexander II. On 5 January 1857, during a lecture delivered at the opening of the new library at Adderley Park, near Birmingham, he spoke discourteously of the Russian court and the court officials. The lecture was severely commented on by the Russian and French press, was the subject of a parliamentary debate, nevertheless, on Palmerstons return to power, he, on 26 July 1861, made Peel Chief Secretary for Ireland and a privy councillor. His speeches were very optimistic, but, before his connection with the castle ended, Irish debates became more embittered, and his replies and speeches in parliament lacked discretion and were not calculated to promote peace. In February 1862 he received a challenge from the ODonoghue, on 5 January 1866 he was created G. C. B. He continued to sit for Tamworth as a Liberal, but was often a critic of Mr. Gladstones policy. In the Times of 8 May 1880 he published a letter, in which he recounted the offers from various governments of honours, on 21 March 1884 he was returned as a Conservative member for Huntingdon. When that borough was disfranchised, he was, in November 1885, on the critical division on the second reading of the Home Rule Bill, on 7 June 1886, he abstained from voting. At the general election in the following July Peel contested the Inverness Burghs for the Liberal party against a Liberal Unionist who had broken with his party on the issue of Home Rule and he was hopelessly defeated, and his political career came to a disappointing close
Sir Robert Peel, Bt, by Camille Silvy.
"A professor of strong languages" Peel as caricatured in Vanity Fair, March 1870