Henry Peter Brougham 1st Baron Brougham and Vaux

The title, Baron Brougham and Vaux was created for Henry Brougham 1st Baron Brougham and Vaux (1778-1868) a famous Whig politician and Lord Chancellor of England.

Henry Brougham, 1st Baron Brougham and Vaux by Sir Thomas Lawrence oil on panel, 1825. National Portrait Gallery, London.

Henry Brougham was Edith Alice’s first cousin twice removed and was Victor Brougham’s great uncle, the peerage having passed to William Brougham 2nd Baron Brougham and Vaux (1795-1868), Lord Henry’s brother, then to William’s son Henry Charles the 3rd Baron, then to Victor, the 4th Baron.

Henry Brougham, had a famous career and this small outline does not begin to cover the volume of material by and about him. I am just a novice in Brougham studies having just cracked his autobiography and a biography written in 1935. The more I read, the more I find admirable in the man, his politics for one, as a reformer and abolitionist. He was a bulldozer. I would have voted for him in a heartbeat. He not only shaped history he was on the right side of things, at least from my northeast U.S. let’s say liberal point of view.

The more I read, the more I also find appalling in the man. He seems childish and impulsive, hard to live with, unpredictable, energetic brilliance alternating with bouts of depression and sickness. In school he was a petty vandal, in office he relied on his brothers to temper his bad judgement. He hated his wife and was unfaithful to her. There’s more. 

I think it was despite all his faults, and there were many, that this prodigy son of a northern country squire, rose to immense power and fame, and once out of political office he had a magnificent second act. 

The man had not one, but many careers.

Dutiful Prodigy

Henry was a unique child. His mother Eleanor Syme (1750-1839) recalled her son’s extraordinary character in a set of notes.

From a very tender age he excelled all his contemporaries. Nothing to him was a labor – no task prescribed that was not performed long before the time expected… From mere infancy he showed a marked attention to every thing he saw, and this before he could speak. Afterwards, to every thing he heard, and he had a memory the most retentive. He spoke distinctly, several words, when he was eight months and two weeks old ; and this aptitude to learn continued progressive. When barely seven years old, he was sent to the High School in Edinburgh, his father preferring that school to Eton or Westminster.

Eleanor Brougham. Notes about Henry, Brougham Oct., 1826. As quoted in Henry’s autobiography.

Henry credits his maternal grandmother Mary Robertson (1725-1803) with all his success in life. Among other things, she taught him his duty: to aim for high position but to do it on above board and by his own efforts; to practice benevolence.

An ardent love of liberty and hatred of oppression seemed part of her nature… The words “Peace is my dearest delight” were ever in her mouth. She felt an affection for the Quakers on this account ; and when any one had any thing to say against them, her answer always was, “Well, but it is the only sect that never persecute;”…For next to a sense of strict justice, humanity was a constant topic.

The Life and Times of Henry Lord Brougham Written by Himself New York: Harper & Brothers, 1871. Chapter 1 p. 37

Brilliant Student

Henry learned latin and greek at the Royal High School in Edinburgh and left at the head of the class and the school, “what is there called Dux.” (autobiography, p. 22) His maternal uncle Rev. Dr. Robertson historian and minister in the Church of Scotland, was Principal.

It was an inestimable advantage to my studies at all times that they were directed by my great kinsman the principal, after the first impulses they had received from my grandmother, his eldest and favorite sister, and who had lived with him, having the care of his family, for many years before the marriage of either. As a matter of course, he was consulted by my father in all that regarded the education of his children.

Autobiography, p.23
Early form of Royal High School armorial bearings. Carved Stone from the Blackfriars Pediment, part of the High School of 1578.

Here he learned also learned about the Revolution going on in France from a charismatic teacher  Alexander Adam, a scholar of classic literature and Roman antiquities and ardent fan of Liberté.

This poster from 1793 when Henry was 15 years old represents the French First Republic with the slogan “Unity and Indivisibility of the Republic. Liberty, Equality, Fraternity or Death.” Note  the red phrygian cap at the top. Cartoons featuring Henry wearing the cap appear in magazines from his time in high office. 

Dr. Adam caught hell for writing a Greek textbook in English, making the language more accessible to the general public.

Among his (Adam’s) favorite topics was inculcating the love of independence, the duty and comfort of making one’s own fortune, and relying on one’s self alone. Then he would chide a pupil’s idleness or inattention; and if theof the higher orders, “But you will get a post or a pension when others are working their way up-hill.” 


Brougham was one of those working his way up. He moved on to Edinburgh University, where he studied mathematics with John Playfair, philosophy with with David Hume and chemistry with Joseph Black.

He matriculated at Edinburgh University at 13 and before he was 20 had published three scientific papers which later earned him election to the Royal Society. After taking an arts degree he studied law and was called to the bar in 1800, but his brilliance did not appeal to the Scottish legal world and briefs were few.

February 1965 issue of the Australian monthly magazine “Parade.”

Brougham was a student of the Scottish Enlightenment and later became a key figure himself, applying rational humanist principles in conducting his legal and political careers.

The social life of that time and place took place in clubs and societies. Brougham joined the Speculative Society a student club dedicated to public speaking, rhetoric, and argument (still going although not without controversy). It was the club for students on their way to become lawyers, a place to practice their skills.

This was during a period of political repression under a politically weakened and mentally unstable King George III who, having lost the North American colonies now faced the First Republic across the Channel.

Publicity photo from the 1995 film The Madness of King George III.

The French king Louis XVI was beheaded only months before Brougham’s friends Francis Jeffery and (Sir) Walter Scott caused a split in the Society, arguing that contemporary politics be among permitted debate topics. As Brougham put it, “Political differences ran high at the time and there was a personal quarrel with the professors, who had accused us of French principles.”

Execution of Louis XVI – German copperplate engraving, 1793, by Georg Heinrich Sieveking

Rowdy Lad

Life wasn’t all serious subjects and radical politics. Brougham and the lads also had their fun. He joined hiking parties in the Scottish Highlands and riotous and unseemly after parties in the city where they interrupted theater performances and the peace of the town with drunken street vandalism.

But sometimes, if not generally, these nocturnal meetings had endings that in no small degree disturbed the “tranquillity of the good town of Edinburgh. I can not tell how the fancy originated; but one of our constant exploits, after an evening at the Apollo, or at Johnny’s (oyster house), was to parade the streets of the New Town, and wrench the brass knockers off the doors, or tear out the brass handles of the bells! No such ornaments existed in the Old Town; but the New Town, lately built, abounded in sea-green doors and huge brazen devices, which were more than our youthful hands could resist. The number we tore off must have been prodigious; for I remember a large dark closet in my father’s house, of which I kept the key, and which was literally filled with our spolia opima. We had no choice but to hoard them; for, it is pretty obvious, we could not exhibit or otherwise dispose of them.


Brougham fondly recalled one incident where, hoisted on someone’s shoulders, he twisted off a large bronze serpent from above a druggist’s door, then ran off as the city guard was activated. “Daft” is how Brougham later thought of his student behavior, quoting from a play by his compatriot Walter Scott, “Aye, aye — they were daft days thae, but they were a’ vanity and waur.”

Student Traveller

Brougham was 21 years old when he joined an expedition bound for Iceland. They sailed from Islay to St. Kilda, a remote now abandoned island in the Outer Hebrides off the east coast of Scotland where they came ashore after a rough landing.

We in the vessel stood round, and had a full coasting view of this most singular spot and its adjoining rocks and islets. A more awful scenery you can not imagine. The grandeur of the scenery was heightened by the fineness of the day, and still more by the idea that a single puff of wind might prove fatal to us, by raising the whole fury of the Western Ocean.

Dry stone hut or cleit above Village Bay, St Kilda, Scotland.

At last came two boats, one belonging to the place and ours besides, but both manned by the savages. This alarmed us : we thought that our party must be lost or taken, and the arm-chest was instantly opened; but the boats approaching, we found the natives quite pacific, and several came on board —among others their priest, without whom nothing would induce them to venture near us.


Awesome scenery, “savage” people and a priest for a fixer. Brougham was no Anthony Bourdain to my great disappointment. I can’t get over the word “savages” and this scene where Henry, a 21 year old student distributes gifts to the natives as the expedition’s keeper of the stores.

I always make a point of landing in full uniform. My command over the stores and servants gives me vast dignity and patronage…and I, from some foolish mistake or other, ‘Billy Pitt.’ So that from hence wherever we go I am believed to be related to that ‘excellent minister.’ You can not conceive, therefore, how all these items procured me respect and worship; all the island was at my nod in a second. 

While Tea was preparing, I marshalled them thus : servants at my elbow, for aids-de-camp ; provender in the rear; male natives in front ; female ditto at some distance from our gentlemen —a most necessary precaution to prevent jealousy. To each native I distributed a ration of tobacco and a dram— their two greatest prizes, though neither had been in the island for two and a half years.


This condescending arrogant little SOB Brougham also criticizes their clothing and their character.

A total want of curiosity, a stupid gaze of wonder, an excessive eagerness for spirits and tobacco, a laziness only to be conquered by the hope of the above mentioned cordials, and a beastly degree of filth, the natural consequence of this, render the St. Kildian character truly savage. To all this our people added the leading trait of furtivity of disposition.


Here is our lad at the tender age of twenty one finally discovering that very poor people steal, live in squalor and (like him) enjoy alcohol. 

The view of this village is truly unique. Nothing in Captain Cook’s voyages comes half so low. The natives are savage in due proportion; the air is infected by a stench almost insupportable—a compound of rotten fish, filth of all sorts, and stinking sear-fowl. Their dress is chiefiy composed of a coarse stuff made by themselves, somewhat like tartan. They wear this chiefly in trowsers and jackets, with coarse brogues, also made by themselves. They make brooches of clumsy iron rings, with pins across : these are worn by the women to tuck up their plaids. Needles coarse in proportion ; thong-ropes for ascending the rocks in quest of nests and birds ; fish-hooks finer than the other articles ; thread and horn-spoons are the remaining manufactures of this place —infinitely coarser and more clumsy, and made in smaller quantity and less variety, than those which navigators have found in any of the Pacific islands, New Holland in the south excepted.


Brougham finds nothing at all to admire in the people who managed to survive in a really tough place for a very long time. He failed one part of his humanist training miserably not seeing beauty where he might have and conveys a cold and negative aesthetic judgement.

Men on either side of the street forming the St Kilda Parliament on the island of Hirta. Credit: National Trust for Scotland/PA.

To give him credit, he saw both beauty and potential in the land though, and wondering why the people were so “primitive” despite what seemed to him some unexploited natural advantages, Brougham put his finger squarely on one source of their oppression.

The tacksman (whom the people think a steward) resides twice a year there, to plunder under the name of Macleod’s factor. He pays £20 sterling only to Macleod, and makes above twice as much himself.


Mr. Lachlan Macleod was the local lord who lived away on the mainland and the corrupt tacksman was his representative on the island, dispensing justice and skimming the tax revenue from an already impoverished people. Brougham worked his connections through his uncle Dr. Robertson to warn Macleod. 

He found no beauty in the people or their work, and certainly not their poverty but he did manage to find one thing to help relieve their poverty and he did something about it. Thus the Scottish Enlightenment comes to Scotland. 

The expedition sailed east for Denmark, arrived at Elsinore then spent a week at Copenhagen where Brougham learned how the place was run and confirmed for himself another example of a crumbling monarchy.

The King of Denmark is an idiot… Mr. Merry said that ambassadors, etc., have to be drilled, as it were, beforehand, when they go into his presence, in case of his exposing himself. Lord Robert Fitzgerald used to frequently to play at cards with him, and said he used to run out of the room suddenly and without cause. If any one answered him he was apt to be outrageous, sometimes spit in people’s faces and boxed their ears. His own family never answered him.  

They departed for Stockholm and on the journey Brougham had much to admire in practically everything he saw. They spent the early winter visiting everywhere and absorbing absolutely everything about the place before returning to Edinburgh.

Public Intellectual

Henry was one of the founders of the Edinburgh Review a scientific journal, and quickly became known as its foremost contributor, with articles on everything from science, politics, colonial policy, literature, poetry, surgery, mathematics and the fine arts.

He had opinions about everything and did not keep them to himself. After he had been host to Brougham for a weekend the editor of the Edinburgh Review remarked:

“This morning Solon, Lycurgus, Demosthenes, Archimedes, Sir Isaac Newton, Lord Chesterfield and a great many more departed from my house in one carriage.” 

In 1803 he published a learned work on colonial policy. The first of more than 40 books he produced, it was widely acclaimed and its attack on the slave trade caused the famous humanitarian William Wilberforce to invite the author to London.

February 1965 issue of the Australian monthly magazine “Parade.”  

Henry’s Wikipedia page lists two examples of his scientific incompetence, but no matter! The law and politics was his real calling and he crashed right on.

Bronze medal, 1812. Bare head of Henry Brougham, right (obverse). Designed by Thomas Halliday. Inscription: OF COMMERCE THE ENLIGHTENED FRIEND; OF NATIONAL INTEGRITY, THE VIRTUOUS, ELOQUENT, AND UNDAUNTED, SUPPORTER.

And he got right to work. This medal refers to Brougham’s opposition to the Orders in Council of November, 1807, prohibiting trade with France and the countries dependent upon her, and insisting on American vessels coming first to British ports and paying a tax.

Zealous Advocate

Henry entered London society, became a popular figure and advised Queen Caroline, the estranged wife of the man who would become King George IV, on legal matters.

Caroline, Princess of Wales by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1798

The king began divorce proceedings right after he got the crown and Henry defended his client the Queen with zeal, threatening to play hardball with some dirt he had on George. It was suggested he back down for the sake of the monarchy to which he responded with a now-famous speech defending his zealous approach.

An advocate, in the discharge of his duty, knows but one person in all the world, and that person is his client. To save that client by all means and expedients, and at all hazards and costs to other persons, and amongst them, to himself, is his first and only duty; and in performing this duty he must not regard the alarm, the torments, the destruction which he may bring upon others. Separating the duty of a patriot from that of an advocate, he must go on reckless of consequences, though it should be his unhappy fate to involve his country in confusion.

Henry Brougham
Painting. The Trial of Queen Caroline, 1820 by Sir George Hayter. National Portrait Gallery. It looks like Henry is one of the three central figures the the left of the seated Queen. Is Henry the fellow on the floor?

Another take on Brougham’s speech:

The trial opened on August 17, 1820, before the Lords. Henry Brougham, with brilliant cross-examination, demolished the evidence of a crowd of shady witnesses who had been brought from the Continent. Brougham’s final speech took two days and all through it he fortified himself with mulled port. When he concluded he fell to his knees drunk. Yet he successfully hid his condition by pretending to be saying a prayer for “this cruelly ill-used woman whose only crime was that she was foolish.” The case against Queen Caroline collapsed and Henry Brougham was a public idol.

February 1965 issue of the Australian monthly magazine “Parade.”

The British public had mainly been on the Princess’s side, and the outcome of the trial made Brougham one of the most famous men in the country.


Henry campaigned for office, advocating for an end to slavery and as ally of William Wilberforce.

You honourably distinguished yourselves
by your zealous support of
Who can be more worthy of your choice as a
the enlightened friend and champion of Negro Freedom
by returning him

Transcription of a 1830 poster devised and funded by The Reverend Benjamin Godwin of Bradford to encourage voters who had supported William Wilberforce to support Brougham also as a committed opponent of slavery.

An end to slavery was not his only cause. Henry also spoke at length for law reform.

On February 7, 1828, he addressed the House of Commons for six hours and three minutes on the abuses and anomalies in English law. When it was printed the speech took up 168 pages. Mindful of his experience with mulled port in the Queen Caroline trial, Brougham consumed only oranges to refresh himself as he spoke. During his speech he outlined virtually every law reform which was carried out in England in the next 100 years.

February 1965 issue of the Australian monthly magazine “Parade.”
Satirical print. Title: The March of Oratory!!! Dedicated to the modern Demosthenes. Made by: William Heath, pub. Thomas McLean. https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/P_1868-0808-8849

Brougham’s speech, apparently still is the longest ever given in the House of Commons, was hilariously satirized in the print above when he was Lord Chancellor. Words! Words! Words! Henry holds forth while the speaker of the House sleeps and the Prime Minister ostentatiously yawns. 

“Look at my speech on the state and administration of the law deliver’d in seven hours on the 7th of Feb – 1828 which measures twenty seven feet six inches Imperial, meas~ Or nine hundred and ninety Superficial inches in length by 3 inches breadth; Is that not Prodigious?”

Satirical print text

The long winded theatrics had a larger goal of political, legal and social reform. Brougham and his Professionals were the hired help for the Amateur governing aristocracy. As Mr. Garratt (his biographer) writes:

“It was inevitable that the old English governing families, the Amateurs, should look to Edinburgh for talented Professionals to strengthen their party sides when the nineteenth century called for a new type of politician, capable of understanding economic and industrial questions.”


Henry not only championed education reform in politics, he published books for the masses.

In November 1826 Henry Brougham and a large Committee of fellow educational reformers, many of them Whig or radical MPs and lawyers, founded the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge (SDUK) in order to educate the widest range of readers. The purpose of the SDUK was to exploit the new high speed printing technology, and the anticipated growth of railroads, to publish cheap, informative works, and distribute them widely and rapidly. 

1827 Brougham launched the SDUK’s Library of Useful Knowledge with an introductory treatise promoting science:  A Discourse of the Objects, Advantages, and Pleasures of Science, published in 1827 and reaching a sale of 42,000 by 1833. The pamphlet offered a brief survey of mathematics, natural philosophy, the solar system, electricity, and the workings of the steam engine.

A Box of Useful Knowledge [Caricature of Brougham]. 1832. S. Tregear – Printer/Publisher. Free Library of Philadelphia: Philadelphia, PA.

And he was satirized for it. This caricature of Brougham with books in his head, titled “A Box of Useful Knowledge” dated 1832 was from his time as Lord Chancellor. It cleverly referenced his involvement with the publishing venture and his well know habit of giving people a piece of his mind.

Satirical print, hand-coloured etching, pub. George Humphrey 1831 British Museum collection object P_1868-0808-9369 Curator’s note: ”The Mountain” were the Radicals in Parliament, named after the party in the French Convention.

Lord Brougham is riding the Kings back, toppling his crown and replacing it with a red cap, a symbol of the French Revolution, during which another King lost his head. Surely Lord laddie boy Brougham is just horsing around with his Sovereign.

The British Museum has over 900 objects associated Lord Brougham, and aside from 35 medals struck for various triumphs, the vast majority are photos, engravings and satirical prints or political cartoons. The cartoon likenesses drawn by multiple makers all converge on an instantly recognizable figure: the nose, the wig, the robes the checked trousers. Everyone knew what that profile stood for politically. 

THAT long-nosed, curve-lipped distressful mask which has been dragged across the cover of Punch for generations is an excellent caricature of Lord Brougham…Yet perhaps that mask is enough, for the searcher for a symbol of the passage of England from overlordship by men to overlordship by institutions could find few better ones than Brougham’s nose. Cyrano-large, lush, knobbed, “what a sign it would make for a perfume shop!”… There is no refined distinction in it, or blood of earls.

Book Review. Lord Brougham’s Biography Is the Portrait of an Age. By ROBERT VAN GELDER. New York Times. July 7, 1935

In other words, Brougham became a meme.

Lord Chancellor

When his party came to power Henry fatally accepted the position of Lord Chancellor giving up his power base in the House of Commons. The same year, he was raised to the peerage as Baron Brougham and Vaux, of Brougham in the County of Westmorland.

Here was a man who all his political life fought for empowering others of his own middle class and working class roots, becoming one of the class he opposed. WTF? Is that right?

Lord Chancellor Henry Brougham.

A visitor to Brougham Hall while Henry Brougham was Lord Chancellor provides a glimpse of what life was like there on one of Henry’s stays.

They rose at seven, and after letters and papers breakfasted at a quarter to ten. At 11 a.m. they went to the library to discuss ‘some point of national importance’ for three or four hours. A drive to the Lakes (the Chancellor acting as guide) followed. They dined at six or seven, talked for two or three hours, took tea in the drawing room and went to bed at eleven.

Mark Thomas. A History of Brougham Hall and High Head Castle. Philmore & Co., Ltd. Shopwyke Hall, Chicheaster, Sussex. 1992. p. 66.

The highlights of Brougham’s time in government were passing the 1832 Reform Act and 1833 Slavery Abolition Act. In fact he was key to getting these important bills across the finish line. He used his title and social position to good ends. Did he betray his class? Sell out? Whatever his title he didn’t change his behavior. His tenure was marred by flaws in his personal behavior and questionable taste in pants of all things.

For all that, the power of Brougham began to decline with his taking of office. His eccentricities, which had advertised him as a private member, did not befit the dignity of a Lord Chancellor. He insisted on wearing strange-looking plaid trousers. On a tour of Scotland he became roaring drunk one night and, still intoxicated the next day, allowed himself to be carried to the race-course in his wig and gown. 

February 1965 issue of the Australian monthly magazine “Parade.”

Henry’s personal style and behavior became a social/political target for his detractors and Brougham was not invited to the next government.

Henry Brougham, 1st Baron Brougham and Vaux by Robert Jefferson Bingham. albumen carte-de-visite, 1860s-1870s. National Portrait Gallery, London Photographs Collection.

Henry was never to hold office again, yet he continued to take an active part in the judicial business of the House of Lords, and in its debates.

In 1838, after news came up of British colonies where the emancipation of the slaves was obstructed or where the ex-slaves were being badly treated and discriminated against, Lord Brougham stated in the House of Lords:

“The slave … is as fit for his freedom as any English peasant, aye, or any Lord whom I now address. I demand his rights; I demand his liberty without stint… . I demand that your brother be no longer trampled upon as your slave!”

Henry’s Wikipedia page

Henry spent only part of these years in England and split that time between London and Brougham Hall.

Henry Brougham’s relationship with Brougham Hall was one of affection and distance, particularly after he ceased to be Lord Chancellor in November 1834. Spending much of his time at Hill Street and from 1838 at 4 Grafton Street, London, he would come up to Brougham in the autumn between parliamentary sessions.

Mark Thomas. A History of Brougham Hall and High Head Castle. Philmore & Co., Ltd. Shopwyke Hall, Chicheaster, Sussex. 1992.
laque mounted on 4 Grafton St., London. Screenshot from Google Maps.

The other part of the year he spent in France.

Act 2: Celebrity Colonist

The man just did not rest. In the 34 years after his political downfall, he built himself a Mediterranean villa, tinkered with carriages and continued to write.

Traveling in France in 1834 he fell in love with a little Mediterranean fishing village called Cannes. He made a home there and built a magnificent villa. For the rest of his life he kept publicising Cannes and almost single-handed turned it into the famous resort it is today.

February 1965 issue of the Australian monthly magazine “Parade.”
Villa Éléonora-Louise, Cannes

The passage above is a brief summary of a longer story about how Brougham came to settle in Cannes, well told on a French Riviera tourist website: “Cannes wasn’t always the epitome of European glamour. Before it was host to the world’s most fashionable red carpet festival, it was just a simple fishing village. Until Lord Brougham showed up.”

In the winter of 1834, his six-horse carriage arrived in Cannes. On board: Grand Chancellor Henry Brougham, and his sick daughter Eléonore-Louise. They were heading to Italy where they hoped to cure her respiratory ailments (at the time, they didn’t know what the cause of ‘consumption’ was: tuberculosis). But the carriage was forced to stop, and Brougham was warned that they would not be able to enter Italy. An outbreak of cholera meant his route was blocked and he had to wait in Cannes for the quarantine order to be lifted.

So they turned back and stopped in the village where they spent the night before and rented a room in the ‘Auberge Pinchinat’ — the only inn in town. Situated on the apex of the bay, looking out to the Îles de Lérins, sheltered by high ground to the west, north and south, Cannes was then a fishing-village called Le Suquet, with no more than three hundred inhabitants and two streets of very humble Provençal houses.

“In this enchanted atmosphere, it is a delight for me who loves dreams, to forget for a few moments the ugliness and miseries of life”, he wrote to a friend who remained in London. One day, two days and then more… While discovering the surroundings, Brougham imagined the life he and his daughter could have if they settled there.

Text excerpt from Iconic, a French Riviera tourist website: https://www.iconicriviera.com/cannes-history-celebrity-founder/

Henry went on to build a villa and named it for his daughter Eleanor who died in 1839 shortly after it was completed. 

Brougham was the most popular man of his time next to the King according to the Whig historian, friend and fellow abolitionist Thomas Babbington Macaulay, according to an article on the Brougham Hall website, and I can believe it. Henry was still much in the press when he retired to Cannes and began recruiting other English settlers to the area. He was the first celebrity colonizer, using his fame to conquer the Riviera for tourism.

Lord Brougham died at Cannes in 1868, aged 89. Today, almost forgotten in his own country, he is honoured there with a fine park called the Square Brougham. His home, the Chateau Elenore-Louise, which is named after his daughter, still stands in Cannes and is now an exclusive hotel

February 1965 issue of the Australian monthly magazine “Parade.” Actually, it seems to be a private residence now.

Coach Designer

Henry kept writing, some political, some scientific. Henry’s scientific pursuits were it seems mostly theoretical, but he also, astonishingly, had a practical mind as well. He invented a new kind of carriage and commissioned London coach-builder Robinson & Cook to build a carriage to his specifications in 1838.

Original brougham carriage, 1838. This vehicle is a prototype of the brougham, which was a comparatively low, light and manoeuvrable design of closed passenger-carrying vehicle drawn by a single horse. Made by the Worshipful Company of Coachmakers & Coach Harness Makers of London. Science Museum of London. Object number 1895-131

brougham, four-wheeled, one-horse carriage. As originally designed (c. 1838) by Henry (later Baron) Brougham, a former lord chancellor of England, it had a low coupé body, appearing as if the front were cut away, that enclosed one forward-facing seat for two passengers; a coachman’s seat was attached to the front, where a third passenger could also ride.

Encyclopedia Britannica

The design was radically different from the usual carriage arrangement with seats facing each other. The Brougham carriage became popular with gentry and royalty of the day and somehow that reputation crossed the Atlantic. The Studebaker brothers adopted both the name and the carriage design in the United States selling it to the rich and famous including Presidents, such as Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt.

Illustrated Souvenir of the Studebaker Bros. Mfg. Co., South Bend, Indiana, U.S.A., 1893. Gray and Parker of Gies & Co., Buffalo, New York

In other words Studebaker transformed, “Brougham”, the ancient place and name into a brand. They extended that brand into automobiles. General Motors and Ford also adopted the Brougham name because it was synonymous with quality and elegance to Detroit car guys and they interpreted their take on that feeing for an American audience.

1991 advertisement for the 1991 Cadillac Brougham D’Elegance, from the year the brand was discontinued.


A political meme in his own time and a brand in ours, cousin Henry’s fame seems transcendent, if faded, living on as a classic defunct gas guzzling brand over here in the US. 

The 1965 magazine article about Cannes quoted above has it almost right. Henry Brougham is almost forgotten but Cannes is not the only place he is memorialized. There are sculptures.

Bust of Henry Brougham in the Playfair Library of Edinburgh University’s Old College. Photo by Kim Traynor.

And there is an architectural monument outside the Houses of Parliament known as the Buxton Memorial Fountain that commemorates the emancipation of slaves in the British Empire in 1834, and in particular, the role of British parliamentarians in the abolition campaign. It was commissioned by Charles Buxton MP, and was dedicated to his father Thomas Fowell Buxton along with William Wilberforce, Thomas Clarkson, Thomas Babington Macaulay, Henry Brougham and Stephen Lushington, all of whom were involved in the abolition movement.

The Buxton Memorial Fountain, designed by Charles Buxton and Samuel Sanders Teulon, celebrating the emancipation of slaves in the British Empire in 1834, in Victoria Tower Gardens, Millbank, Westminster, Photo by goznalo Pérez London.

And of course the name lives on in the people who inherited the peerage.

Our Peers

In 1860, Queen Victoria gave Brougham a second peerage as Baron Brougham and Vaux, of Brougham in the County of Westmorland and of Highhead Castle in the County of Cumberland, with remainder to his youngest brother William Brougham (died 1886). The patent stated that the second peerage was in honor of the great services he had rendered, especially in promoting the abolition of slavery.

As of 2022 Baron Brougham and Vaux is one of 808 hereditary peerages (dukes, marquesses, earls, viscounts and barons) of the United Kingdom and one of only 98 peers permitted now to sit in the House of Lords.

Official portrait of the Right Honorable Michael John Brougham, 5th Baron Brougham and Vaux, CBE (b. 2 August 1938).

Michael John Brougham, 5th Baron Brougham and Vaux, my 5th cousin once removed, is 84 years old (in 2022), born the same year as my mother. He succeeded to the title in 1967 and entered Parliament in 1968 when I was six years old (the same year the Beatles released the White Album!). 

Remarkably, he still active in the House of Lords as deputy speaker and deputy chairman of committees and is also currently vice-chairman of the Association of Conservative Peers.

His son Charles William Brougham, ten years younger than me, will inherit the title. I see on a popular peerage website that Charles and his wife have a son, Henry George born in 2012, so the name passes on and perhaps the title will too.

Our noble cousins inherited Brougham Hall, maintained and raised it to a place fit for royalty and gambled it all away. But, credit to Michael John Brougham for sponsoring the current restoration.

Brougham coat of arms, image from Burkes Peerage