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Scott was the son of a Newcastle coal merchant and won a scholarship to University College, Oxford. He was called to the bar in 1776 and became a KC in 1783. In the same year, he was elected as M.P. for Weobley.
He became solicitor-general in 1788, attorney-general in 1793 and Lord Chief Justice of Common Pleas in 1799. Scott was knighted in 1788, and in 1799 was created Baron Eldon of Eldon.
His legal career culminated in his appointment as Lord Chancellor in 1801, which office he held (with a break in 1806-1807) until 1827. He was further ennobled as Earl of Eldon in 1821.
Eldon was vigorously opposed to Catholic emancipation and to the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts, thanks to his political support for the primacy of Anglican state protestantism rather than through any religious prejudice. He also opposed many legal and social reform proposals throughout his time in the Cabinet, and was the leader in the Lords, along with Wellington, to the opposition to the Reform Bills of 1831 and 1832.
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