This full-scale study of the Gladstones, one of the most interesting and best documented families of nineteenth-century Britain. It centres on the formidable figure of John Gladstone and on his famous son. John made his fortune by trading in the difficult conditions of the revolutionary and Napoleonic wars. As a major slave owner he was deeply embroiled in the troubles of the West Indies and in the debate on slavery. He played an important role in the new trade with the East and, as an urban and agricultural developer and sponsor of the railway age, he hastened the coming of urban-industrial society. His manipulation of the pre-reform electorate of Liverpool and his relationships with Canning, Huskisson and the politically ambitious northern businessmen are revealing of the politics of the time.