Mr Mercury

The Life of Edward Baines 1774-1848

by David Thornton

Edward Baines, editor of the Leeds Mercury, MP for Leeds and man of letters, was one of the most significant political figures of the early nineteenth century and the iconic figure of provincial Dissenting Whiggery. His campaigning newspaper, the Leeds Mercury, became the guiding light of liberal provincial radicalism for almost half a century. Baines's pioneering use of the weekly editorial ultimately gained him a place in the pantheon of newspaper history and the columns of his paper also provided a forum for an intelligent exchange of views throughout the West Riding.

His philosophy was based upon a deep commitment to Christian principles. Justice, freedom and truth formed his credo, beliefs which he promulgated from the hustings, in the House of Commons, and in his newspaper. As an MP he became the mouthpiece of the Dissenters at Westminster and added to his achievements by becoming a man of letters. His four-volume History of the County Palatine and Duchy of Lancaster is still regarded as a classic work of local history.

David Thornton's new book, a revised version of a Leeds University Ph.D. thesis, not only describes Edward Baines's career in great detail but also sets his life against the history of Leeds and of Britain. The book will appeal to local historians in Leeds as well as specialists interested in urban history, the provincial Press, Liberal Dissent, the work of backbench MPs, and many other aspects of early nineteenth-century British society.

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casebound with dustjacket, 360 pp and 15 illustrations

ISBN: 978-1-898937-74-6