Skip to main content

Joseph Parkes and Edward John Stanley correspondence

Collection MS-2007-010: Joseph Parkes and Edward John Stanley correspondence


  • Creation: 1834 - 1860
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1835 - 1843

Scope and Contents

This collection primarily contains correspondence between political and election reformer Joseph Parkes and parliamentarian Edward John Stanley. The correspondence dates to the period just following the passage of the 1832 Reform Act, when Parkes served as a political advisor to the Whig party. The focus is on parliamentary affairs. Parkes and Stanley frequently discuss the status of their opponents in the Tory party and the state of the reform movement in Great Britain. A handful of letters date from the time of Parkes' quasi-retirement during which he and Stanley continued to correspond about politics.

This collection also includes some letters between Joseph Parkes and other correspondents focusing on political and legal matters. Edward John Stanley is mentioned occasionally in these letters, as Parkes comments on parliamentary politics.


Restrictions on access

Collection is open for research.

Restrictions on use

These materials are made available for use in research, teaching and private study, pursuant to U.S. Copyright Law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source. The original authors may retain copyright to the materials.

Biographical Note: Joseph Parkes

Joseph Parkes (1796-1865) played a critical role in the political reform movements and electoral changes of the mid-nineteenth century in England. Parkes worked as a lawyer specializing in election cases in Birmingham and served as an advisor to several Whig candidates during the height of the reform period in England. Parkes campaigned actively for parliamentary reform, writing frequent articles in national newspapers between 1830 and 1832. After the passage of the Reform Act in 1832, Parkes continued to advise Whig party candidates in general elections and to push for additional election reform. He spearheaded a national registration campaign in the 1840s, and following his retirement from legal and political work in 1847, Parkes continued to publish political pamphlets in papers such as The Times and Birmingham Journal.

Parkes married Elizabeth Rayner Priestley, the eldest daughter of Joseph Priestley, in 1824, and their daughter, Elizabeth Rayner (Bessie) Parkes became a strong advocate for women's issues in the nineteenth century. Bessie Parkes was also the mother of British writer Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953).


Salmon, Philip J. "Parkes, Joseph (1796-1865)" Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford UP, 2004. [, accessed 13 June 2007]

Biographical Note: Edward John Stanley

British politician Edward John Stanley (1802-1869) entered parliament as a Whig in the last unreformed election of 1831. He served as under-secretary to the colonies from 1833-1834, and was appointed secretary to the Treasury in 1835. As a Whig candidate, Stanley forged a strong relationship with Joseph Parkes. The two men corresponded frequently during their political careers. In 1836, Stanley joined with Parkes to establish a Reform Club in order to "humanize the Radicals and liberalize the Whigs" (Parkes to Lord Palmerston, 12 February 1836, quoted in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography). Stanley ended his career as postmaster-general, a position he held until 1866.


Newbould, Ian. "Stanley, Edward John, second Baron Stanley of Alderley and first Baron Eddisbury (1802-1869)" Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford UP, 2004. [, accessed 13 June 2007]


0.5 Linear Feet (1 container)

Language of Materials



This collection contains correspondence between British political and election reformer Joseph Parkes (1796-1865) and British politician Edward John Stanley (1802-1869). It also includes a small amount of correspondence between Parkes and other correspondents.


By correspondent, and chronologically thereunder.


Purchased from the Hilaire Belloc Estate in 2007.

Related Materials

Researchers may also be interested in the Burns Library’s numerous Hilaire Belloc collections.

Joseph Parkes and Edward John Stanley Correspondence
1834-1860, (bulk 1835-1843)
Matthew Heitzman, 2007; updated by Miriam Bourke
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the John J. Burns Library Repository

John J. Burns Library
Boston College
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill MA 02467 United States