Edward Baines (1774–1848)

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For his son of the same name, see Edward Baines (1800–1890).
Edward Baines
Edward Baines (1744 - 1848).jpg
Born 1774
Walton-le-Dale, near Preston, Lancashire
Died 3 August 1848
Occupation Politician
Spouse(s) Charlotte Talbot
Children Matthew Talbot Baines (1799–1860)
Edward Baines Jnr. (1800–1890)
Thomas Baines (1806–1881)
Margaret Baines (d. 1891)

Edward Baines (1774–1848) was an English newspaper proprietor, politician, and author of historical and geographic works of reference.


Edward Baines was born in 1774 at Walton-le-Dale, near Preston, Lancashire. He was educated at Hawkshead Grammar School, and at grammar school in Preston, and at the age of sixteen was apprenticed to a printer in Preston. After remaining there for four years and a half, he moved to Leeds, finished his apprenticeship, and at once started his own business. He took a keen interest in political and social movements. His political opinions led him to sympathize with non-conformity and he soon joined the Independents.

In 1801 the assistance of party friends enabled him to buy the Leeds Mercury. Provincial newspapers at that time did not possess much influence; it was no part of the editor's duty to supply what are now called "leading articles", and the system of reporting was described as "defective" by the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica. Baines made a complete change in the Mercury. His political articles gradually made the paper the organ of Liberal opinion in Leeds, and the connection of the Baines family with the paper made their influence powerful for many years in this direction. Baines soon began to take a prominent part in politics; he was an ardent advocate of parliamentary reform, and it was mainly by his influence that Thomas Macaulay was returned for Leeds in 1832; and in 1834 he succeeded Macaulay as member. He was re-elected in 1835 and 1837, but resigned in 1841.

In parliament he supported the Liberal party, but with independent views. Like his son Edward after him, he strongly advocated the separation of church and state, and opposed government interference in national education. His letters to Lord John Russell on the latter question (1846) had a powerful influence in determining the action of the government. He died in 1848. His best-known writings are: The History, Directory and Gazetteer of the County of York; History, Directory and Gazetteer of the County of Lancaster; History of the County Palatine and Duchy of Lancaster. He was also the author of a History of the Wars of Napoleon, which was continued under the title of A History of the Reign of George III. Some of these were co-written with Thomas Baines.

Children and legacy[edit]

His son, Sir Edward Baines (1800–1890), of St Ann's Hill, Leeds, was editor and afterwards proprietor of the Leeds Mercury, M.P. for Leeds (1859–1874), and was knighted in 1880; his History of the Cotton Manufacture (1835) was long a standard authority, he also wrote a biography of his father The life of Edward Baines, late M.P. for the Borough of Leeds.

An elder son, Matthew Talbot Baines (1799–1860), went to the bar; he became recorder of Kingston upon Hull in (1837), M.P. for Hull in 1847, president of the Poor Law Board in 1849, was returned as M.P. for Leeds 1852, again became president of the Poor Law Board (till 1855), and entered the cabinet as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in 1856.

He had three further sons: Thomas Baines; his fourth and fifth sons died during childhood.[1]

The youngest daughter of Edward Baines — Margaret (d. 1891) — married another political figure, Charles Reed, in 1844.

Another daughter was the mother of South Australian politician and mayor of Adelaide, Theodore Bruce.



  1. ^ Baines 1851, p. 71.


External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
John Marshall
Thomas Babington Macaulay
Member of Parliament for Leeds
1834 – 1841
With: John Marshall to 1835
Sir John Beckett 1835–1837
Sir William Molesworth 1837–1841
William Beckett from 1841
Succeeded by
William Beckett
William Aldam