THE RIGHT HON. JOHN BRIGHT, M.P. FOR BIRMINGHAM, WAS ADMITTED BURGESS IN RESPECT OF THE PROMINENT PLACE HE HAS SO LONG OCCUPIED AS A PUBLIC MAN AND MEMBER OF THE GOVERNMENT, AND FOR THE IMPORTANT SERVICES HE HAS RENDERED TO THE STATE.
JOHN BRIGHT was the son of JACOB BRIGHT of Greenbank, near Rochdale, and was born there on 16th November, 1811. His father had an extensive cotton factory at Rochdale, and JOHN BRIGHT entered into the co partnery at an early age. He took part in the Reform Agitation of 1831 2; but he first distinguished himself in 1839 as an eloquent advocate of the abolition of the Corn Laws, and was one of the earliest members of the Anti Corn Law League. In April, 1843, he contested the city of Durham at a bye election, but was defeated by LORD DUNGANNON; and as the successful candidate was unseated on petition,
Mr BRIGHT was returned as member in July of that year, and sat as representative till 1847, when he became member for Manchester. His reputation as a statesman and orator was first made by his speeches in support of Free Trade,and in conjunction with Mr RICHARD COBDEN and Mr JOSEPH HUME (vide pp. 277 and 267) he endeavoured to bring about the reform of national finance. When the Crimean War seemed imminent Mr BRIGHT strenuously opposed the warlike policy of LORD PALMERSTON, but without avail; and when at a later date he denounced the conduct of that statesman in the Canton imbroglio he found himself unpopular with his constituents, and lost his seat at the General Election of 1857. The death of Mr MUNTZ, a few months afterwards, caused a vacancy at Birmingham, and Mr BRIGHT was returned for that borough in August, 1857, and has continued to represent it ever since.
His principal work in Parliament has been directed towards the lowering of the electoral franchise, and though entirely in accord with the Liberal party he refused for a long time to take office under a Liberal Government. He was at length prevailed upon by Mr GLADSTONE to become President of the Board of Trade, in December, 1868, and held that office for two years. Mr BRIGHT was twice appointed Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and was made a Privy Councillor in 1868.