History

William and Catherine Gladstone

History

In 1903 an over-life size marble statue to William Gladstone was unveiled in the north transept of Westminster Abbey. The inscription reads:

"Erected by Parliament to the Right Honourable William Ewart Gladstone four times Prime Minister. Born December 29 1809 Died May 19 1898".

It stands next to the statue of Robert Peel and is by the sculptor Sir Thomas Brock. His was the last standing statue to be erected inside the Abbey. Due to lack of space it was decided that future memorials should be in the form of tablets, floor stones or windows (the only exception to this rule being the recumbent effigy of Lord Salisbury 1903).

The funeral was held at the Abbey on 28 May 1898. His was the first State funeral since that of William Pitt (Benjamin Disraeli's family having declined the honour for him). Gladstone's body lay in state in Westminster Hall prior to the service. His gravestone, with brass letters and a cross at the base, was put in after the death of his wife and reads:

"Here are buried William Ewart Gladstone Born Dec 29 1809. Died May 19 1898 and Catherine his wife the daughter of Sir Stephen Glynne Eighth Baronet of Hawarden Castle. Born Jan 6 1812. Died June 14 1900"

William was a son of Sir John Gladstone, 1st Baronet (d.1851) and his second wife Anne (Robertson) and was born in Liverpool. He joined his brother Thomas at Eton College and went on to study at Christ Church, Oxford. In 1833 he gave his maiden speech as a Member of Parliament on the emancipation of slaves. He went on to serve as leader of the Liberal Party and held the office of Prime Minister four times. He married Catherine in 1839 and they had four sons and four daughters. In 1894 he resigned office and declined a peerage.

 

Photos of the monument and grave can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library.

 

Further reading for the Gladstone family:

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004

The Life of William Ewart Gladstone by John Morley, 3 volumes, 1903.

 

 

 

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Grave of William and Catherine
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