William Ventris Field, Baron Field - Encyclopedia

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WILLIAM VENTRIS FIELD FIELD, Baron (1813-1907), English judge, second son of Thomas Flint Field, of Fielden, Bedfordshire, was born on the 21st of August 1813. He was educated at King's school, Bruton, Somersetshire, and entered the legal profession as a solicitor. In 1843, however, he ceased to practise as such, and entered at the Inner Temple, being called to the bar in 1850, after having practised for some time as a special pleader. He joined the Western circuit, but soon exchanged it for the Midland. He obtained a large business as a junior, and became a queen's counsel and bencher of his inn in 1864. As a Q.C. he had a very extensive common law practice, and had for some time been the leader of the Midland circuit, when in February 1875, on the retirement of Mr Justice Keating, he was raised to the bench as a justice of the queen's bench. Mr Justice Field was an excellent puisne judge of the type that attracts but little public attention. He was a first-rate lawyer, had a good knowledge of commercial matters, great shrewdness and a quick intellect, while he was also painstaking and scrupulously fair. When the rules of the Supreme Court 1883 came into force in the autumn of that year, Mr Justice Field was so well recognized an authority upon all questions of practice that the lord chancellor selected him to sit continuously at Judges' Chambers, in order that a consistent practice under the new rules might as far as possible be established. This he did for nearly a year, and his name will always, to a large extent, be associated with the settling of the details of the new procedure, which finally did away with the former elaborate system of "special pleading." In 1890 he retired from the bench and was raised to the peerage as Baron Field of Bakeham, becoming at the same time a member of the privy council. In the House of Lords he at first took part, not infrequently, in the hearing of appeals, and notably delivered a carefully-reasoned judgment in the case of the Bank of England v. Vagliano Brothers (5th of March 1891), in which, with Lord Bramwell, he differed from the majority of his brother peers. Before long, however, deafness and advancing years rendered his attendances less frequent. Lord Field died at Bognor on the 23rd of January 1907, and as he left no issue the peerage became extinct.

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