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John Morley, 1st Viscount Morley of Blackburn OM, PC (24 December 1838 - 23 September 1923) was a British Liberal statesman, writer and newspaper editor. Initially a journalist, he was elected a Member of Parliament in 1883. He was Chief Secretary for Ireland in 1886 and between 1892 and 1895, Secretary of State for India between 1905 and 1910 and again in 1911 and Lord President of the Council between 1910 and 1914. Morley was a distinguished political commentator, and biographer of his hero, William Gladstone. Morley is best known for his writings and for his "reputation as the last of the great nineteenth-century Liberals". He opposed imperialism and the Boer War, and his opposition to British entry into the First World War led him to leave government in 1914. Morley was born in Blackburn, Lancashire, the son of Jonathan Morley and Priscilla Mary (née Duncan). He was educated at Cheltenham College, University College School and Lincoln College, Oxford. He quarrelled with his father over religion, and had to leave Oxford early without an honours degree; his father had wanted him to become a clergyman. He wrote, in obvious allusion to this rift, On Compromise (1874). Morley was called to the bar before deciding to pursue a career in journalism. He was the editor of the Fortnightly Review from 1867 to 1882 and of the Pall Mall Gazette from 1880-83 before going into politics. Morley was a prominent Gladstonian Liberal. In Newcastle, his constituency association chairman was Robert Spence Watson, indefatigable and effective local organiser, a leader of the National Liberal Federation and its chairman from 1890 to 1902. Morley thus had the advantage of a superior local electoral organisation and direct linkage to a prime mover in the Liberal caucus. However, Newcastle was a dual member constituency and his parliamentary colleague, Joseph Cowen, was a local radical in perpetual conflict with the Liberal Party, locally and nationally, with the advantage of owning the most influential local newspaper, the Chronicle. Cowen increasingly attacked Morley from the left, sponsoring working men candidates on his retirement from the seat, whilst simultaneously showing favour to the local Tory candidate, Charles Frederic Hamond.
Morley, with Watson's machine, withstood the Cowen challenge until the 1895 general election, when the tactics of the one time revolutionary radical Cowen caused the ejection of Morley and the loss of Newcastle to the Tories. In February 1886, he was sworn of the Privy Council and made Chief Secretary for Ireland, only to be turned out when Gladstone's government fell over Home Rule in July of the same year and Lord Salisbury became Prime Minister. After the severe defeat of the Gladstonian party at the 1886 general election, Morley divided his life between politics and letters until Gladstone's return to power at the 1892 general election, when he resumed as Chief Secretary for Ireland.
He had during the interval taken a leading part in parliament, but his tenure of the chief secretaryship of Ireland was hardly a success. The Irish gentry made things as difficult for him as possible, and the path of an avowed Home Ruler installed in office at Dublin Castle was beset with pitfalls. In the internecine disputes that agitated the Liberal party during Lord Rosebery's administration and afterwards, Morley sided with Sir William Harcourt and was the recipient and practically co-signatory of his letter resigning the Liberal leadership in December 1898. He lost his seat in the 1895 general election but soon found another in Scotland, when he was elected at a by-election in February 1896 for the Montrose Burghs. From 1889 onwards, Morley resisted the pressure from labour leaders in Newcastle to support a maximum working day of eight hours enforced by law. Morley objected to this because it would interfere in natural economic processes. It would be "thrusting an Act of Parliament like a ramrod into all the delicate and complex machinery of British industry". For example, an Eight Hours Bill for miners would impose on an industry with great diversity in local and natural conditions a universal regulation. He further argued that it would be wrong to "enable the Legislature, which is ignorant of these things, which is biased in these things—to give the Legislature the power of saying how many hours a day a man shall or shall not work" His legacy was a purely moral one; although in May 1870 he married Mrs. Rose Ayling, the union produced no heirs. Mrs. Ayling was already married when she met John Morley and the couple waited to marry until her first husband died several years later. She was never received into polite society, and many of his colleagues, including Asquith, never met her. Morley had three siblings, Edward Sword Morley (1828-1901), William Wheelhouse Morley (1840-Abt. 1870), and Grace Hannah Morley (1842-1825).
For more information, see Wikipedia entry at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Morley,_1st_Viscount_Morley_of_Blackburn.
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