Charles Schreiber

05P_Charles_Schreiber.jpgConservative

1865-68

The ‘zealous and eloquent’ victor of 1865 was a former Cheltenham College pupil and classics scholar and tutor who had married his employer, the brilliant, ambitious and rich widow Lady Charlotte Guest.  Charlotte was actually a Whig but seems to have tolerated her young husband’s Tory ambitions. 

Schreiber was a good organiser and ‘a forcible speaker’, pitching his arguments well to his still small urban property-owning electorate.  He railed against both the aristocratic fox-hunting activities of the Berkeleys and the threat of Liberal concessions to workers, catholics and nonconformists: ‘of all the existing forms of government, democracy is the lowest and worst’ he declared, ‘Shall England abandon her Protestant Faith, her Established Church, the blessing she enjoys, for the evils offered to her clothed in the specious garb of Progressive Reform and Civil and Religious Liberty?’  Religious opinion in the town swung strongly behind him.

Tensions ran high at the 1865 poll.  Schreiber had to dodge rotten eggs and dead cats at the hustings but the violence got worse and a Liberal runner was shot dead by one of his supporters.  Amidst riotous scenes the Tories squeaked victory by 28 votes and promptly had their windows broken by a radical mob. Schreiber astutely left the windows unrepaired  for many weeks. He then successfully fought off accusations of bribery in the now customary election petition to take his seat in the Commons where he continued to argue forcefully against the extension of the vote to the poor.

It must have been a bitter blow to the local Conservatives that a man of such great political talents stood down at the next election, to ‘abandon the quest of politics for that of porcelain’, one passion at least that he shared with Lady Charlotte. He returned to Parliament for Poole in 1880.

Read about Charles Schreiber's banquet of 1859 here