In July 1861 he accepted from Lord Palmerston the office of solicitor-general, a knighthood, and a safe seat for the borough of Richmond in Yorkshire, secured for him through the friendly action of Lord Zetland, and thus began the second spell of Palmer's membership of the House of Commons, which continued till his elevation to the woolsack and the peerage.
The high road to the woolsack was now open, but his defection from his former path has stamped his character with general infamy.
The death of Fox, who became foreign secretary and leader of the House of Commons, soon, however, broke up the Grenville administration; and in the spring of 1807 Lord Eldon once more, under Lord Liverpool's administration, returned to the woolsack, which, from that time, he continued to occupy for about twenty years, swaying the cabinet, and being in all but name prime minister of England.
On being called to the bar he "found a cause or two at nurse for him, which he did his best to put to death," to the bitter disappointment of his father, who had confidently looked forward to seeing him upon the woolsack.
In February 1801 the ministry of Pitt was succeeded by that of Addington, and the chief justice now ascended the woolsack.
In 1770 he was invited by the duke of Grafton, when Camden was dismissed from the chancellorship, to take his seat on the woolsack.