Henry Brougham (Dictionary of World Biography: The 19th Century)
Article abstract: Known as a reform politician, Brougham helped in the reformation of the law and began the spread of universal education.
Henry Peter Brougham was born September 19, 1778, in Edinburgh. His father, Henry, a squire from Westmoreland in England, had married Eleanor Syme, the widow of a Scottish minister and niece of the noted historian William Robertson. His mother’s connections led the young Henry—a boy of tremendous talent who spoke clearly in his eighth month and read by the age of two years—to be reared and educated in Edinburgh, which was then still basking in the glow of the Scottish Enlightenment of the eighteenth century. Brougham remained a man of that background all of his life. He left Edinburgh High School at the head of his class in 1791, and while attending the University of Edinburgh, the best in Great Britain at the time, displayed an interest and ability in mathematics and the natural sciences; throughout his life he studied mathematics for relaxation. While at university and for the decade after he left in 1795, he and a group of talented and like-minded friends explored all topics and discussed new ideas.
In the Scotland of the day, young men of talent and ambition who lacked connections with the dominant Tory Party had few chances, and Brougham, an excellent speaker, chose law as the career least affected by this problem, though his heart was never fully in...
(The entire section is 2645 words.)
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