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Francis Horner

(1778-1817), Political economist

Regency Portraits Catalogue Entry

Sitter in 5 portraits
In 1802, Francis Horner helped to found the Edinburgh Review, for whose editor, Francis Jeffrey, he was to supply many articles in the next few years. Horner entered Parliament as a Whig MP in 1806; the main issue on which he campaigned was that of Catholic Emancipation. He was part of the Holland House set, a circle of Whig politicians and men of letters which flourished around Henry Richard Fox, third Baron Holland, and his wife, Elizabeth Vassall Fox, Lady Holland, at their mansion at Kensington.

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Francis Horner, by and published by Samuel William Reynolds, after  Sir Henry Raeburn - NPG D19590

Francis Horner

by and published by Samuel William Reynolds, after Sir Henry Raeburn
mezzotint, published 4 July 1818 (1812)
NPG D19590

Francis Horner, by Samuel William Reynolds, after  Sir Henry Raeburn - NPG D3099

Francis Horner

by Samuel William Reynolds, after Sir Henry Raeburn
mezzotint, published 1843
NPG D3099

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Carl P J Horner, BA, PGCE

27 July 2016, 00:40

Francis Horner was born in Edinburgh on August 12th, 1778. After studies in both England and Scotland, he was called to the Scottish Bar in 1800 and to the English Bar in 1807. During this period, he studied political economy extensively and helped found the influential Edinburgh Review. He was a Scottish Whig MP from 1806 for a number of seats. In 1810 he chaired the famous Bullion Committee, which investigated the high price of gold, inconvertible paper money and the gold standard. Its Report is one of the classic documents of monetary theory. He died in Pisa, Italy on February 8th 1817.
Horner's review of Henry Thornton's book is considered an able and concise summary of an important but sometimes difficult text. According to MEGA IV/7, Marx read Horner's 1802 review in London in 1851. Marx quotes from one of his speeches in the House of Commons against child slavery in Capital. His brother, Leonard Horner, was the factory inspector, quoted by Marx repeatedly in Capital, who exposed the oppressive conditions workers were forced to endure in the workplace.
Review of Henry Thornton: 'Inquiry into the Nature and Effects of the Paper Credit of Great Britain', 1802.
Review of Lord King: 'Thoughts on the Restriction of Payments in Specie at the Banks of England and Ireland', 1803.
(with Henry Thornton and William Huskisson): Report from the Select Committee on the High Price of Bullion ('The Bullion Report'), 1810.

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