Sir William Webb Follett - Encyclopedia




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SIR WILLIAM WEBB FOLLETT (1798-1845), English lawyer, was born at Topsham in Devonshire on the 2nd of December 1798. He was the son of Captain Benjamin Follett, who had retired from the army in 1790, and engaged in business at Topsham. He received his education at Exeter grammar school and Trinity College, Cambridge, graduating in 1818. He had entered the Inner Temple in 1816 and began to practise as a pleader below the bar in 1821, but was called to the bar in 1824, and joined the western circuit in 1825. At the very outset his great qualifications were universally recognized. He was.. thoroughly master of his profession, and his rapid rise in it was. due not only to his quick perception and sound judgment, but to his singular courtesy, kindness and sweetness of temper. In 1830 he married the eldest daughter of Sir Ambrose Harding Gifford, chief justice of Ceylon. In 1835 he was returned to parliament for Exeter. In parliament he early distinguished himself, and under the first administration of Sir Robert Peel was appointed solicitor-general (November 1834); but resigned with the ministry in April 1835. In the course of this year he was knighted. On the return of Peel to power in 1841 Sir William was again appointed solicitor-general, and in April 1844 he succeeded Sir Frederick Pollock as attorney-general. But his health, which had begun to fail him in 1838, and had been permanently injured by a severe illness in 1841, now broke down,. and he was compelled to relinquish practice and to visit the south of Europe. He returned to England in March 1845; but the disease, consumption, reasserted itself, and he died in London on the 28th of June following. A statue of Follett, executed by Behnes, was erected by subscription in Westminster Abbey.

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