Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 21.djvu/412

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mitting the importation of cotton wool from the United States’ during the existing war. Gladstone was a partner in the firm of Corrie, Gladstone, & Bradshaw for sixteen years, and greatly increased its business. Upon a dissolution of partnership he became sole proprietor, and the firm was known as Gladstone & Co. With characteristic care for others, he drafted over from Leith his six brothers, one by one, in order to provide them with careers. His business, in which he amassed a large fortune, was mainly with the East Indies, but some ten years before he retired he also developed a West-Indian trade. The firm acquired large plantations in Demerara and elsewhere, whence they brought over sugar and other produce in their own ships. Like all West-Indian merchants Gladstone was a slaveowner, and he championed the interests of the planters in the controversy respecting the abolition of the slave trade. An elaborate discussion of the subject took place between himself and James Cropper [q. v.], the well-known abolitionist, in the columns of the ‘Liverpool Mercury’ and ‘Courier,’ in the autumn of 1823, and the articles were republished in pamphlet form in 1824. In 1830, when the great Emancipation Bill was in view, Gladstone issued, in the form of a letter to Sir Robert Peel, ‘A Statement of Facts connected with the Present State of Slavery,’ in which, while acknowledging the heavy social responsibilities of slaveowners, he deprecated the total abolition of slavery in the interests of the negro as well as of the planter. This pamphlet reached a second edition. Mr. W. E. Gladstone in his famous first speech (3 June 1833) in the House of Commons defended his father from a charge brought by Viscount Howick, afterwards third Earl Grey, against the management of an estate of his in Demerara called Vreedens Hop, and expressed approval of the principle of compensation to the planters (Hansard, Parl. Debates, 3rd ser. xviii. 330–7; Mirror of Parliament for 1833, pp. 2079–83).

Gladstone sat in parliament for many years. In early life he had been a liberal, and a supporter of William Roscoe, M.P. for Liverpool, but admiration for Canning led to a change in his political allegiance, and he voted in parliament as a staunch tory on all imperial questions. In 1812 he invited Canning to contest Liverpool, and was at first sole guarantor of the statesman's election expenses. He himself first entered parliament as member for Lancaster in 1818, when his friends in Liverpool subscribed 6,000l. towards his election expenses, which amounted to 6,000l. more. He was elected for Woodstock in 1820, and for Berwick in 1826, but he was unseated at Berwick on petition in 1827. He spoke rarely in the debates, and chiefly on commercial questions. He disapproved the repeal of the corn laws, and described the disastrous results which he anticipated from the measure in a pamphlet, which reached a second edition in 1839. In 1846, when the bill for the repeal was passing through the House of Lords, he published in the same sense ‘Plain Facts intimately connected with the intended Repeal of the Corn Laws: its Probable Effects on the Public Revenue and the Prosperity of the Country.’ But before his death he expressed a conviction that Sir Robert Peel was right.

Gladstone took at all times a prominent part in the support of charitable and religious institutions at Liverpool and his native town of Leith. He built St. Thomas's Church, Seaforth, in 1814–15, and St. Andrew's Church, Liverpool, about 1816, besides a church at Leith. In 1840 he established, also at Leith, an asylum for women labouring under incurable diseases.

He dropped the final s of his name by royal letters patent dated 10 Feb. 1835; was created a baronet by Sir Robert Peel on 18 July 1846, and died 5 Dec. 1851, at his estate of Fasque, Kincardineshire, which he had purchased twenty years previously, and where he built and endowed an episcopal chapel about 1847. His fourth son, the Right Hon. W. E. Gladstone, has written of him: ‘No one, except those who have known him with the close intimacy of family connection, could properly appreciate the greatness of that truly remarkable man.’

Sir John married (1) in 1792 Jane, daughter of Joseph Hall of Liverpool, who died without issue in 1798; and (2), on 29 April 1800, Anne, daughter of Andrew Robertson, esq., provost of Dingwall, Ross-shire, and sheriff-substitute of that county. Sir John's second wife died 23 Sept. 1835; by her he was father of four sons and two daughters. The eldest son, Sir Thomas Gladstone of Fasque (1804–1889), the second baronet, was conservative M.P. for Queenborough 1830, for Portarlington 1832–5, and Leicester 1835–7. The third son, John Neilson (1807–1863), a captain in the navy, was elected M.P. for Devizes in 1852 and 1859. The fourth son is the eminent statesman, the Right Hon. William Ewart Gladstone, M.P., who was born 29 Dec. 1809–1898, and has been thrice prime minister.

[Notes supplied by the Right Hon. W. E. Gladstone, M.P.; Gent. Mag. 1852, pt. i. 187–8 (chiefly from the Liverpool Courier); Foster's Baronetage; Life of W. E. Gladstone, by G. Barnett