Biography of Sir Robert Peel
Sir Robert Peel delivering his rectorial installation address
Sir Robert Peel, 2nd Baronet, was Rector of the University from 1836 to 1838.
Born in Bury, Peel was the son of a wealthy industrialist and inherited a baronetcy in 1830. He was considered the greatest Tory politician of his day who held several important Government offices before becoming Prime Minister from 1834 to 1835 and 1841 to 1846. He was responsible (among other things) for introducing Catholic Emancipation and repealing the Corn Laws. As Home Secretary he instituted the police force in London and the nicknames for policemen, "Peelers" and "Bobbies", are both derived from his name.
Peel stood against the Whig Attorney-General Sir John Campbell in the 1836 election, and his victory was unusual in the respect that the University's voters had generally favoured Whig candidates for Rector. In 1836 his supporters at the University founded the Peel Club, to which Sir Robert presented a silver mace. The club became the University Conservative Club.