New College hosts a lecture and exhibition about Lord Thurlow (1731–1806)

Last week, New College hosted an exhibition and lecture about Lord Thurlow (17311806), one of the most neglected political figures in late eighteenth-century Britain. 

As Solicitor General, Attorney General, and finally Lord Chancellor from 1778 to 1792, Thurlow was a key advisor and staunch defender of government policy throughout the American Revolution, during the East India Company’s rise as a territorial power in India, and during the early stages of the British reaction to the French Revolution. Despite this, he has been largely ignored by academic historians until now.

On Friday, Ben Gilding, former Don King Junior Research Fellow in History at New College, discussed his new book The Great Pillar: The Political Career of Lord Thurlow 17311806, which examines Thurlow’s political career through the medium of political caricature. 

Before the talk, guests were invited to view a selection of New College’s unique and rarely exhibited collection of prints of Lord Thurlow by the famous caricaturist James Gillray (the father of the political cartoon). The fourteen Gillray prints on display ranged from 1787 to 1796 (which was the beginning of his most prolific period in his career). Thurlow’s stout appearance made him a caricaturist’s dream; in their hands, and especially Gillray’s, his characteristics made him one of the most recognisable political figures of the late eighteenth century.

The Great Pillar: The Political Career of Lord Thurlow 17311806 by Ben Gilding has been published by New College Library & Archives Publications, and produced with the generous financial support of Don King.

Find out more and order a copy of the book.