Henry Hawkins, 1st Baron Brampton
The Lord Brampton
|Born||14 September 1817|
|Died||6 October 1907 90) (aged|
Tilney Street, Park Lane, London
|Spouse(s)||(1) Hanna Casey (d. 1886) |
(2) Jane Louisa Reynolds (d. 1907)
Background and education
Born at Hitchin, Hertfordshire, Hawkins was the son of John Hawkins, a solicitor, and Susanna, daughter of Theed Pearse. Through his father he was early familiarised with legal principles. He was educated at Bedford School, and was called to the Bar, Middle Temple, in 1843.
Legal career 1843-1876
Hawkins at once joined the old home circuit, and after enjoying a lucrative practice as a junior, became a barrister in 1858 and a Queen's Counsel in 1859. His name is identified with many of the famous trials of the reign of Queen Victoria. He was engaged in the Simon Bernard case, in that of Roupell v. Waite, and in the Overend-Gurney prosecutions. The two causes célèbres, however, in which Hawkins attained his highest legal distinction were the Tichborne trials and the great will case of Sugden v. Lord St. Leonards, relating to the lost will of Edward Sugden, 1st Baron St Leonards. In both of these he won. He had a lucrative business in references and arbitrations, and acted for the royal commissioners in the purchase of the site for the new law courts. Election petitions also formed another branch of his extensive practice.
Judicial career 1876-1898
Hawkins was raised to the bench in 1876, and was assigned to the then exchequer division of the High Court of Justice, not as baron (an appellation which was being abolished by the Judicature Act), but with the title of Sir Henry Hawkins. His knowledge of the criminal law was extensive and intimate and he got a reputation as a hanging judge. Hawkins would be the judge at a large number of the most famous English criminal trials of his day. His first major case was the 1877 trial of Louis Staunton, his brother Patrick, and two others for the murder of Louis' wife Harriet and her baby by starvation. A question regarding whether he was too favourable to the prosecution's case (coupled with evidence of meningitis rather than starvation being the cause of death) led to a public campaign orchestrated by the novelist Charles Reade. The decision reduced the sentences of the three convicted defendants (for the Staunton brothers prison sentences rather than death sentences). Patrick Staunton's barrister, Edward Clarke, never forgave Hawkins, whom he considered a wicked judge, and refused years later to support any attempt by the British Bar to celebrate the man upon his retirement.
Other trials that Hawkins presided over included Dr George Henry Lamson for the poisoning of his brother-in-law Percy Johns at Wimbledon in December 1881 (the trial was in April 1882); the trial of Mary Fitzpatrick for murder in November 1882; the Earl of Euston's 1889 libel case against newspaper editor Ernest Parke – a notorious miscarriage of justice that was part of the Cleveland Street scandal; the trial of Dr Thomas Neill Cream for the Lambeth/Stepney poisonings of prostitutes from December 1891 to April 1892 (the trial was in November 1892); and the trial of Albert Milsom and Henry Fowler for the Muswell Hill murder in February 1896 (the trial was in May 1896). In 1898 he retired from the bench. The following year he was raised to the peerage as Baron Brampton, of Brampton in the County of Huntingdon, and sworn of the Privy Council. He frequently took part in determining House of Lords appeals.
Lord Brampton was twice married. He married firstly Hannah T. Casey. After her death in September 1886 he married secondly Jane Louisa, daughter of Henry Francis Reynolds, in 1887. He held for many years the office of counsel to the Jockey Club, and as an active member of that body found relaxation from his legal and judicial duties at the leading race meetings, and was considered a capable judge of horses. In 1898 he converted to Catholicism, and in 1903 he presented, in conjunction with Lady Brampton (his second wife), the chapel of Sts. Augustine and Gregory to the Roman Catholic Westminster Cathedral, which was consecrated in that year. In 1904 he published his Reminiscences edited by Richard Harris, K.C. ( Publisher; Edward Arnold, London)
Lord Brampton died at Tilney Street, Park Lane, London, on 6 October 1907, aged 90, when the barony became extinct. He left a fortune of £141,000. Lady Brampton (Jane Louisa Reynolds) died in November the following year. They are buried together in Kensal Green Cemetery in London.
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Brampton, Henry Hawkins". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- Adam, Hargrave L. (ed.) The Trial of George Henry Lamson. (The Notable British Trial Series) (London, Edinburgh, Glasgow: William Hodge and Company, Ltd., 1911, 1912).
- Lustgarten, Edgar The Woman In the Case. (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1955), Chapter III: "The Victim: Harriet Staunton", p. 117–151 (the same chapter appears in Lustgarten's The Murder and the Trial (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1958), as 10. "The Brothers Staunton", p. 155–178. It mentions Reade's campaign to save the defendants, and Clarkes' unforgiving view of Hawkins.).
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- Works by Henry Hawkins, 1st Baron Brampton at Project Gutenberg
- Works by or about Henry Hawkins, 1st Baron Brampton at Internet Archive
Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). . Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
- The Police Code Includes an essay by Hawkins on the duties of the police.
|Peerage of the United Kingdom|
|New creation|| Baron Brampton