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Durham, John Lambton, 1st earl of

Durham, John Lambton, 1st earl of (1792–1840). A wealthy Durham landowner and coal-owner, Lambton became one of the county's MPs from 1813, advocating reforms and acquiring the nickname ‘Radical Jack’. He was created Baron Durham in 1828. When his father-in-law Grey became premier in 1830, Durham joined the cabinet and the small committee which drafted the ministry's parliamentary reforms. He was promoted earl of Durham in 1834, when he resigned on grounds of ill-health. While out of office, he campaigned for further reforms, including vote by ballot, household suffrage, and triennial parliaments, embarrassing the Whig ministers. From 1835 to 1837 he was ambassador to Russia. After a rebellion in Canada in 1838, he was sent there on a special mission and produced the Durham Report, leading to the reorganization of British North America and contributing to the evolution of imperial constitutional conventions. His mission ended in controversy, partly because of his own high-handed conduct. Although talented, he was always a difficult colleague, proud, tactless, short-tempered, and easily offended.

Norman McCord

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