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 Richard “Lord Westbury” Bethell

Richard “Lord Westbury” Bethell

Birth
Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire Unitary Authority, Wiltshire, England
Death 20 Jul 1873 (aged 73)
London, City of London, Greater London, England
Burial New Southgate, London Borough of Enfield, Greater London, England
Memorial ID 7469055 · View Source
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British Statesman. Born in Bradford-on-Avon in Wiltshire, he was educated at Corsham School near Bath and, at the age of fourteen, "whilst still wearing a jacket and frill", presented himself at Wadham College, Oxford, where he matriculated and, within a few months, gained a scholarship. Just after his nineteenth birthday, he graduated with First Class Honours in Classics and a Second in Mathematics. In 1823, he was called to the Bar at the Middle Temple and, in 1840, became a Queen's Counsel. The following year, he became the leader of the Chancery Bar, earning £20,000 a year. In 1847, he stood for Parliament as the Liberal candidate for Shaftesbury in Dorset; he failed but, in 1851, was elected for Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire and, the next year, found a safer seat at Wolverhampton. At the same time, he became Solicitor General and, in 1856, Attorney General in Lord Palmerston's Government, a position which he held, with the exception of a few months in 1858-9 when the Liberals were out of office, until 1861, when he became Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain and head of the judiciary, and was given a seat in the House of Lords with the title of the first Baron Westbury. The Dictionary of National Biography wrote of him: "The judgments which he has left are in many ways unique. Our law reports contain no more perfect examples of precise and lucid statement, of concise reasoning, or of polished English." Unfortunately, in 1865, he was accused of having used his position to benefit his relatives. He was acquitted by two select committees of having acted from unbecoming motives, but it was found that he had been inattentive to the public interest. In spite of there being a Liberal majority in the House of Commons, a vote of censure was carried there, and he resigned at once "in a speech so full of grace and dignity that it turned indignation into sympathy." He retired to his villa in Italy, but returned to sit on appeals in the House of Lords and the Privy Council. He died at his house in London, just one day after his old adversary, "Soapy Sam" Wilberforce, the Bishop of Winchester.

Bio by: Iain MacFarlaine


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Iain MacFarlaine
  • Added: 20 May 2003
  • Find A Grave Memorial 7469055
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Richard “Lord Westbury” Bethell (30 Jun 1800–20 Jul 1873), Find A Grave Memorial no. 7469055, citing New Southgate Cemetery and Crematorium, New Southgate, London Borough of Enfield, Greater London, England ; Maintained by Find A Grave .