Montague Edward Smith

Sir Montague Edward Smith (25 December 1806 – 3 May 1891) was a British barrister and judge who served as one of the last Justices of the Court of Common Pleas.

Sir Montague Edward Smith
Justice of the Common Pleas
In office
7 February 1865  3 November 1871
Preceded bySir Edward Vaughan Williams
Succeeded byRobert Collier
Personal details
Born25 December 1806 (1806-12-25)
Bideford, Devon
Died3 May 1891 (1891-05-04) (aged 84)
Park Lane, London
Political partyConservative
Professionbarrister, judge

Early life

Smith was born Edward Montague Smith on 25 December 1806, to Thomas Smith, an attorney, and Margaret Colville. As an adult he reversed the order of his Christian and middle names, and was known as Montague. Following an education at Bideford Grammar School, Smith was articled to his father in 1823, practising on his own after his father died five years later.


On 1 November 1830 he joined Gray's Inn, where he was called to the Bar on 18 November 1835. Practising on the Western circuit, which had recently seen its best barristers appointed to judicial posts, Smith quickly built up a large practice. On 11 May 1839 he transferred to the Middle Temple, which he became a Bencher of on 22 November 1853 and Treasurer of in 1863. On 28 June 1853 he was made a Queen's Counsel (QC).[1]

At the 1859 general election, Smith was returned as a Conservative Member of Parliament for Truro. He spoke little within Parliament, but did succeed in passing an Act to limit crown suits in 1861. On 7 February 1865 he was made a Justice of the Court of Common Pleas, hearing cases such as Readhead v Midland Railway Company,[2] and Rylands v Fletcher. A physical defect made travelling difficult, limiting his effectiveness as a judge of the normal Westminster courts.[1] On 3 November 1871, he moved from the Court of Common Pleas to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, and was temporarily replaced by Robert Collier, allowing Collier to also qualify to join the Committee.[3] He retired on 12 December 1881 and died at his home in Park Lane, London, on 3 May 1891.[1] He is buried at Kensal Green Cemetery, London.[4]


  1. Pugsley, David (2004). "Oxford DNB article: Smith, Sir Montague Edward (subscription needed)". Oxford University Press. Retrieved 21 May 2010.
  2. [1869] LR 4 QB 379
  3. Pugsley, David (2004). "Oxford DNB article: Collier, Robert Porrett (subscription needed)". Oxford University Press. Retrieved 21 May 2010.
  4. Paths of Glory. Friends of Kensal Green Cemetery. 1997. p. 91.
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Edward Brydges Willyams and
Augustus Smith
Member of Parliament for Truro
With: Augustus Smith
Succeeded by
Sir Frederick Williams and
Augustus Smith
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