Peel, Sir Robert Peel, Sir Robert, 1788–1850, British statesman. The son of a rich cotton manufacturer, whose baronetcy he inherited in 1830, Peel entered Parliament as a Tory in 1809. He served (1812–18) as chief secretary for Ireland, where he maintained order by the establishment of a police force and consistently opposed Irish demands for Catholic Emancipation . In 1819 he was chairman of the parliamentary currency committee that recommended and secured Britain's return to the gold standard. As home secretary (1822–27, 1828–30) Peel succeeded in reforming the criminal laws and established (1829) the London police force, whose members came to be called Peelers or Bobbies. Early in his career Peel scrupulously defended Tory interests, but he gradually came to believe in the need for change. The first sign of a modified outlook was in his sponsorship (1829) of the bill enabling Roman Catholics to sit in the House of Commons. In opposing parliamentary reform he recovered some of the Tory support that he lost by this position, and after the Reform
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