Edmund Burke PC (12 January 1729 – 9 July 1797) was an Anglo-Irish statesman, author, orator, political theorist, and philosopher who, after relocating to England, served for many years in the House of Commons of Great Britain as a member of the Whig party. He is mainly remembered for his support of the cause of the American Revolutionaries, and for his later opposition to the French Revolution. The latter led to his becoming the leading figure within the conservative faction of the Whig party, which he dubbed the "Old Whigs", in opposition to the pro-French-Revolution "New Whigs," led by Charles James Fox. Burke was praised by both conservatives and liberals in the nineteenth century. Since the twentieth century, he has generally been viewed as the philosophical founder of modern conservatism, as well as a representative of classical liberalism.
Burke was born in Dublin, Ireland to a prosperous solicitor father (Richard; d. 1761) of the Church of Ireland. It is unclear if this is the same Richard Burke who converted from Catholicism. His mother Mary (c. 1702–1770), whose maiden name was Nagle, belonged to the Roman Catholic Church and came from an impoverished but genteel County Cork family. (The name de Búrca, anglicised as Burke, is the Irish language version of the Norman name Burgh or de Burgh, the name of a family that settled in Ireland following the Norman invasion of Ireland by Henry II of England in 1172.) Burke was raised in his father's faith and remained throughout his life a practising Anglican, unlike his sister Juliana who was brought up as and remained a Roman Catholic. His political enemies were later repeatedly to accuse him of having been educated at the Jesuit seminary of St. Omer's and of harbouring secret Catholic sympathies at a time when membership of the Catholic Church would disqualify him from public office (see Penal Laws in Ireland). As Burke told Mrs. Crewe:
Mr. Burke's Enemies often endeavoured to convince the World that he had been bred up in the Catholic Faith, & that his Family were of it, & that he himself had been educated at St. Omer—but this was false, as his father was a regular practitioner of the Law at Dublin, which he could not be unless of the Established Church: & it so happened that though Mr. B— was twice at Paris, he never happened to go through the Town of St. Omer.