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Derby, Edward Stanley, 15th earl of

Derby, Edward Stanley, 15th earl of (1826–93). Educated at Rugby and Trinity College, Cambridge, and an MP from 1848, Stanley was closer to Disraeli than was his own father in the 1850s, and a more centrist figure than the elder Derby had become. An uneasy Conservative, sometimes sought by the Whigs or seen as a possible coalitionist, he was also a potential Conservative leader and might have displaced Disraeli but for his poor relations with the party's church interest. He was colonial and Indian secretary in 1858–9 and foreign secretary in 1866–8 and, after inheriting the earldom in 1869, again from 1874. During the Eastern Question crisis he conducted an independent and non-interventionist (some said pro-Russian) policy and, having fallen out with Disraeli, resigned in 1878. In 1880 his support for the Liberals was a factor of some electoral significance in Lancashire. As colonial secretary under Gladstone from 1882 he was disinclined to a ‘forward policy’. In 1886 he broke with Gladstone over Home Rule and led the Liberal Unionists in the Lords until 1891. A cool and sceptical politician, though of progressive views, Derby was immune to most of the enthusiasms of his day. He was a notable political diarist.

Bruce Coleman

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Derby, Edward Henry Stanley, 15th earl of

Edward Henry Stanley Derby, 15th earl of (där´bē), 1826–93, British politician, son of the 14th earl. Although more liberal than his father, he held several positions in the latter's administrations, including foreign secretary (1866–68). He was foreign secretary again (1874–78) under Benjamin Disraeli, but resigned in protest against Disraeli's intervention in the Russo-Turkish war (1878). Derby later (1880) formally shifted his allegiance to the Liberal party and was colonial secretary (1882–85) under William Gladstone. He broke with the Gladstonian Liberals over the issue of Home Rule for Ireland and led the Liberal Unionists in the House of Lords until his retirement in 1891.

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