Born in Liverpool and educated at Eton and Oxford he entered Parliament as a follower of Peel (Conservative) in 1832. He first achieved high office as Chancellor of the Exchecquer in 1852, introducing income tax as a 'temporary measure' in that year. In 1867 he became leader of the newly formed Liberal Party and was Prime-minister from 1868 to 1874, 1880-85, 1889-90 and 1892-94. He opposed all hereditary privileges and traditions when they blocked his ideal of cheap and efficient government. His most revolutionary step was to embrace Home Rule for Ireland when the imperialist tide was running all the other way. A powerful orator he was known as the 'People's William'.