The Conservative split on the Corn Law question was attended with exceptional bitterness, sometimes even within families. At a by-election held in February 1846, the protectionist Duke of Newcastle used all his formidable electoral influence to block the re-election of his Peelite eldest son, the Earl of Lincoln, as Member for South Nottinghamshire. Lincoln, unopposed at every previous election since the Reform Act, had to scuttle north to win a very close contest at Falkirk and thus remain in Peel’s government during its last four months. Father and son did not speak to one another again until the Duke lay on his deathbed in 1851. Similarly, prompt reconciliation between Peelites and Protectionists in Parliament proved impossible, hard though Stanley, who assumed the leadership of the latter as one of the very few with ministerial experience, tried. The Peelites (or Liberal Conservatives as they were sometimes known) and Conservatives acted as separate units. Party politics, which had seemed so ordered in the late 1830s and early 1840s, lapsed into confusion.