The sitter was one of the most eminent statesmen of later Georgian England, serving as Prime Minister from 1812 until 1827. He was born in 1770, the son of Charles Jenkinson, 1st Earl of Liverpool (1727-1808), a Tory statesman and member of the Bute, North and Pitt ministeries. Educated at Charterhouse and Christ Church, where he was a contemporary of the future 1st Earl Granville and George Canning, he left Oxford in 1789, was present in Paris at the fall of the Bastille that year, and was returned to Parliament in 1790. A vigorous opponent of the regime in France, he called for immediate war after the execution of King Louis XVI in 1793, while opposing reform at home. Recognising his abilities, Pitt appointed him to a seat on the India board, and, except for the brief Whig administration of 1806, he was never out of office again until his last illness.
His parliamentary career was set against the backdrop of war overseas and reform at home, but his practicality and capability in the face of those two dangers accounted for the duration and success of his career. He was equally able to negotiate the Peace of Amiens in 1801-2, as vigorously to support Wellington in the Peninsular and, after Waterloo, privately to write to Castlereagh that 'we wish that the King of France would hang or shoot Buonaparte [sic] as the best termination of the business'. Similarly, in the domestic affairs, he could fight Catholic emancipation, and still insist so strongly on the inclusion of an international prohibition of slavery in the treaty of Vienna, that it was soon banned throughout Europe. Prime Minister from 1812, Liverpool carried his country through every type of storm without ever incurring real danger from his opponents. He died in 1828, following a stroke whilst in office the previous year. He married, first, Lady Theodosia Hervey, daughter of the 4th Earl of Bristol, and second, Miss Chester, niece of the 1st Lord Bagot.