William Ewart black plaque in Liverpool

1798-1869 William Ewart MP Pioneer of public libraries born nearby

William Ewart (1 May 1798 – 23 January 1869) was a British politician, born in Liverpool on 1 May 1798. He was educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford, gaining the Newdigate prize for English verse. He was called to the bar at the Middle Temple in 1827, and the next year entered Parliament for the borough of Bletchingley in Surrey, serving until 1830. He subsequently sat for Liverpool from 1830 to 1837, for Wigan from 1839 to 1841, and for Dumfries Burghs from 1841 until his retirement from public life in 1868. He died at his home, Broadleas House, near Devizes, Wiltshire, on 23 January 1869.Ewart, who was an advanced liberal in politics, was responsible during his long political career for many useful measures. In 1834 he successfully carried a bill to abolish hanging in chains, and in 1837 he was successful in getting an act passed to abolish capital punishment for cattle-stealing and other similar offences. In 1850 he carried a bill for establishing free libraries supported out of public rates, and in 1864 he was instrumental in getting an act passed for legalizing the use of the metric system of weights and measures.He remained a strong advocate for the abolition of capital punishment, and on his motion in 1864, a Royal Commission was appointed to consider the subject, on which he sat. Other reforms which he advocated and which have since been carried out were an annual statement on education, and the examination of candidates for the civil service and army.He was a close friend of the Revd William Gaskell and his wife, the famous writer Mrs Elizabeth Gaskell and the couple often stayed at Broadleas House. Ewart's daughter, Mary, was Mrs Gaskell's close confidante.

Source: dbpedia

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