Leeds MPs

MACAULAY Thomas Babington (1800–1859) Whig. Historian.

Macaulay was a popular reviewer in the Whig Edinburgh Review and his The History of England from the Reign of James II (1848) is still considered a classic. In 1830 he was elected to Parliament for the pocket borough of Calne. At Westminster he succinctly argued the case for Parliamentary Reform but with the franchise restricted to the middle class. That speech, the fact he was a passionate advocate for the abolition of slavery and he proclaimed a laissez-faire philosophy had a significant influence on the Leeds Whigs. They asked him to stand as one of the candidates in the forthcoming 1832 general election now the Reform Bill had been passed. In the election that followed he and John Marshall Jr, the other Whig candidate, comfortably defeated Michael Thomas Sadler, the only Tory to stand. However, he was soon tired of life in Parliament and in 1833, when the directors of the East India Company elected him to a seat on their council, he resigned from the Commons thus creating the first ever by-election in Leeds. He spent four years in India and on returning to Britain he became MP for Edinburgh from 1838–1847. He was ennobled in 1857. For further reading see J. Clive, Macaulay, the Shaping of a Historian (New York, 1979).