Sir Robert Peel, portrait by Henry William Pickersgill
Sir Robert Peel (1788-1850) was twice Prime Minister of England (1834–1835 and 1841–1846) and twice Home Secretary (1822–1827 and 1828–1830). He is one of the founders of the modern British Conservative Party. He was the son of a wealthy textile manufacturer, and was educated at Harrow and Oxford. He was elected to Parliament in 1809, at the age of 21 and served as member of Parliament for 40 years. He became Home Secretary in 1822. According to Wikipedia:
As Home Secretary, he introduced a number of important reforms of British criminal law: most memorably establishing the Metropolitan Police Force (Metropolitan Police Act 1829) for London. It was the enabling legislation for the first English police force, the “bobbies” (in England) or “peelers” (in Ireland), which served as the model for modern urban police departments throughout England. He also reformed the criminal law, reducing the number of crimes punishable by death, and simplified it by repealing a large number of criminal statutes and consolidating their provisions into what are known as Peel’s Acts. He reformed the gaol system, introducing payment for gaolers and education for the inmates.
He served as Prime Minister from 1834 to 1846. As Prime Minister he was instrumental in repealing protectionist trade laws and in establishing free trade as a 19th Century British policy as the industrial revolution progressed. On June 29, 1850, he was thrown from his horse while riding on Constitution Hill in London, and the horse stumbled on top of him. He died three days later on 2 July at the age of 62 due to a clavicular fracture which ruptured an artery.
He was an Anglican, a member of the Church of England. Apparently, he was a privately devout Christian because the following prayer was found in the private drawer of his dressing case after his death. In this prayer, designed by him, he communicates to God his personal needs as Prime Minister, petitions God for help in governing with wisdom and prudence, and requests God’s favor on the King and country, and for himself, that he would remain faithful in his walk with God:
Great and Merciful God, ruler of all nations, help me daily to repair to Thee for wisdom and grace suitable to the high office whereto Thy providence has called me. Strengthen, 0 Lord, my natural powers and faculties, that the weighty and solemn interests with which Thy servant is charged may not greatly suffer through weakness of body and confusion of mind. Deign, I beseech Thee, to obviate or correct the ill-effects of such omissions or mistakes in my proceedings as may result from partial knowledge, infirmity of judgment, or unfaithfulness in any with whom I may have to do.
Let Thy blessing rest upon my Sovereign and my country. Dispose the hearts of all in high stations to adopt such measures as will preserve public order, foster industry, and alleviate distress. May true religion flourish, and peace be universal. Grant that, so far as may consist with human weakness, whatever is proposed by myself or others for the general good may be viewed with candour, and that all new and useful measures may be conducted to a prosperous issue.
As for me, Thy servant, grant, 0 Merciful God, that I may not be so engrossed with public anxieties as that Thy word should become unfruitful in me, or be so moved by difficulty or opposition as not to pursue the narrow way which leadeth me to life. And, 0 most gracious Father, if, notwithstanding my present desires and purposes, I should forget Thee, do not Thou forget me, seeing that I entreat Thy constant remembrance and favour only for the sake of our most blessed Advocate and Redeemer Jesus Christ, to whom with Thee and the Holy Spirit be glory for ever. Amen.
“Great and Merciful God,” Book of Uncommon Prayers (UK)
from the collection, Give Us Grace, An Anthology of Anglican Prayers, compiled by Christopher L. Webber