Encyclopaedia Britannica 11th Edition


(1530-1587), English lord chancellor, was born in Staffordshire in 1530. He was educated at Oxford University and called to the bar at the Middle Temple. Through family influence as well as the patronage of Sir Nicholas Bacon, the lord keeper, he quickly made progress in his profession. In 1566 he was appointed recorder of London, and in 1569 he became solicitor-general. He sat in parliament successively for Bridgnorth, Wigan and Guildford. On the death of Sir Nicholas Bacon in 1579 he was appointed lord chancellor. As an equity judge he showed great and profound knowledge, and his judgment in Shelley's case (q.v.) is a landmark in the history of English real property law. He presided over the commission which tried Mary, queen of Scots, in 1586, but the strain of the trial, coupled with the responsibility which her execution involved upon him, proved too much for his strength, and he died on the 12th of April 1587. He was buried in Westminster Abbey.

See Foss, Lives of the Judges; Campbell, Lives of the Lord Chancellors.