1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Buller, Charles

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BULLER, CHARLES (1806–1848), English politician, son of Charles Buller (d. 1848), a member of a well-known Cornish family (see below), was born in Calcutta on the 6th of August 1806; his mother, a daughter of General William Kirkpatrick, was an exceptionally talented woman. He was educated at Harrow, then privately in Edinburgh by Thomas Carlyle, and afterwards at Trinity College, Cambridge, becoming a barrister in 1831. Before this date, however, he had succeeded his father as member of parliament for West Looe; after the passing of the Reform Bill of 1832 and the consequent disenfranchisement of this borough, he was returned to parliament by the voters of Liskeard. He retained this seat until he died in London on the 29th of November 1848, leaving behind him, so Charles Greville says, “a memory cherished for his delightful social qualities and a vast credit for undeveloped powers.” An eager reformer and a friend of John Stuart Mill, Buller voted for the great Reform Bill, favoured other progressive measures, and presided over the committee on the state of the records and the one appointed to inquire into the state of election law in Ireland in 1836. In 1838 he went to Canada with Lord Durham as private secretary, and after rendering conspicuous service to his chief, returned with him to England in the same year. After practising as a barrister, Buller was made judge-advocate-general in 1846, and became chief commissioner of the poor law about a year before his death. For a long time it was believed that Buller wrote Lord Durham’s famous “Report on the affairs of British North America.” However, this is now denied by several authorities, among them being Durham’s biographer, Stuart J. Reid, who mentions that Buller described this statement as a “groundless assertion” in an article which he wrote for the Edinburgh Review. Nevertheless it is quite possible that the “Report” was largely drafted by Buller, and it almost certainly bears traces of his influence. Buller was a very talented man, witty, popular and generous, and is described by Carlyle as “the genialest radical I have ever met.” Among his intimate friends were Grote, Thackeray, Monckton Milnes and Lady Ashburton. A bust of Buller is in Westminster Abbey, and another was unveiled at Liskeard in 1905. He wrote “A Sketch of Lord Durham’s mission to Canada,” which has not been printed.

See T. Carlyle, Reminiscences (1881); and S. J. Reid, Life and Letters of the 1st earl of Durham (1906).