Henry James, 1st baron James of Hereford - Encyclopedia




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HENRY JAMES JAMES OF HEREFORD, 1ST Baron (1828-), English lawyer and statesman, son of P. T. James, surgeon, was born at Hereford on the 30th of October 1828, and educated at Cheltenham College. A prizeman of the Inner Temple, he was called to the bar in 1852 and joined the Oxford circuit, where he soon came into prominence. In 1867 he was made "postman" of the court of exchequer, and in 1869 became a Q.C. At the general election of 1868 he obtained a seat in parliament for Taunton as a Liberal, by the unseating of Mr Serjeant Cox on a scrutiny in March 1869, and he kept the seat till 1885, when he was returned for Bury. He attracted attention in parliament by his speeches in 1872 in the debates on the Judicature Act. In 1873 (September) he was made solicitorgeneral, and in November attorney-general, and knighted; and when Gladstone returned to power in 1880 he resumed his office. He was responsible for carrying the Corrupt Practices Act of 1883. On Gladstone's conversion to Home Rule, Sir Henry James parted from him and became one of the most influential of the Liberal Unionists: Gladstone had offered him the lord chancellorship in 1886, but he declined it; and the knowledge of the sacrifice he had made in refusing to follow his old chief in his new departure lent great weight to his advocacy of the Unionist cause in the country. He was one of the leading counsel for The Times before the Parnell Commission, and from 1892 to 1895 was attorney-general to the prince of Wales. From 1895 to 1902 he was a member of the Unionist ministry as chancellor for the duchy of Lancaster, and in 1895 he was made a peer as Baron James of Hereford. In later years he was a prominent opponent of the Tariff Reform movement, adhering to the section of Free Trade Unionists.

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