Search the Collection

Sir Francis Burdett, 5th Bt (1770-1844), Parliamentary reformer

Sitter associated with 113 portraits
An aristocrat and an independent MP, Burdett entered Parliament in 1796 to become the most influential radical politician. He championed free speech, personal liberty and radical state prisoners. In 1807, with the help of labour activist Francis Place, Burdett successfully stood for Westminster - a hotbed of radicalism. He was arrested and imprisoned for denouncing the House of Common's decision to bar journalists from some debates. Burdett became a national celebrity as 'Burdett and Liberty' riots exploded onto London's streets, marking a shift of popular sympathy towards electoral reform.