Chapter 11 Section 2
A Century of Reform in Britain
Economic reforms that benefited
British workers and others
Free trade – trade between countries
without quotas, tariffs, etc.
– Early 1800’s foreign imports were
taxed to protect local industries
Supporters of free trade
– Increased market outside England
– Consumers would benefit from more
competition (lower prices)
Corn Laws kept price of British grain high
with high tariffs on imported grains
– Farmers & wealthy landowners
supported Corn Laws, made more
Free traders wanted Corn Laws repealed
– The result would be lower price of
– Make price of bread cheaper for
– Open up trade
The issue of slavery in Britain
• 1807 – Britain 1st
European nation to
abolish slave trade
• 1833 – banned slavery
in all British colonies
Capital Crimes
• Crimes punishable by death
• Early 1800’s over 200 crimes
• 1850 reduced number of
capital offenses to treason,
murder, piracy & arson
– Petty criminal sent to penal
colonies – special settlements
for convicts – Australia, New
– 1868- ended public hangings,
improved prison conditions
outlawed imprisonment for
Reforms for Industrial workers
1842 mine workers could no longer
employ women or children under 10
1847 women & children – 10 hour
Late 1800’s improved safety
conditions, set minimum wages &
maximum working hours
1825 trade unions made legal (strikes
still illegal)
Education Act – free elementary
education for all children
1883 Fabian Society – socialist
– Promoted gradual change through legal
means, not violence
– Worked for social reforms
1900 Socialists & Fabians formed new
political party – Labour Party
Women’s Sufferage
• Women were divided on
voting issue
– Queen Victoria was against
the idea
• Emmeline Parkhurst –
leading suffragist, she was
– Huge public
– Turned to violent protests
– Arrested, jailed, went on
hunger strikes
“Irish Question”
• England conquered Ireland
in 1100
• 1600’s colonized Ireland;
took possession of best
– Irish resented absentee
landlords – owned large
estates but did not live on
– Irish peasants lived in poverty
– Paid high rents to English
– Irish Catholics forced to pay
tithes to Church of England
Irish Nationalists
• Campaigned for freedom
& justice
• Led by Daniel O’Connell,
formed Irish Catholic
League “To get Ireland for
the Irish”
• 1829 British Parliament
passed Catholic
Emancipation Act,
allowed Catholics to vote
& hold political office
The Great Hunger - Potato Famine
• ¾’s of Irish farmland used
for crops sent to England
• Potato main source of
food for most Irish people
• 1845 blight/disease
destroyed potato crop;
resulted in terrible famine
– In 4 years 1 million Irish
died of starvation or
• About 2 million emigrated
to U.S. & Canada
Irish Home Rule
• Struggle for Home Rule – local
• 1850’s organized Fenian
brotherhood – goal to liberate
Ireland from British rule by force
• 1870’s moderate nationalists
were led by Charles Parnell
– Ended Irish tithe to Anglican
– Prevented landlords from charging
unfair rents
– Protected rights of tenants to land
they worked
• 1914 Parliament passed Home
Rule Bill and Ireland became
independent in 1921

Chapter 11 Section 2 A Century of Reform in Britain