John Fortescue Aland, 1st Baron Fortescue of Credan
John Fortescue Aland, 1st Baron Fortescue of Credan (7 March 1670–19 December 1746) was an English lawyer, politician and judge. He was also a writer on English legal and constitutional history, said to have influenced Thomas Jefferson.
Background and education
Legal, judicial and political career
Fortescue Aland was Solicitor-General, first to the Prince of Wales in 1714, and to then to his father George I in 1715. He became a Baron of the Exchequer, in 1717-8. He was justice of the Court of Common Pleas in 1718, and justice of the Court of King's Bench, 1728 to 1746. He was removed as a judge on the accession of George II, in 1727. This was the last occasion on which a judge failed to have his patent renewed on an accession. He was re-instated as a judge the following year. He succeeded his father-in-law Sir John Pratt as Member of Parliament for Midhurst in 1715, resigning in 1716. In 1746 he was raised to the Peerage of Ireland as Baron Fortescue of Credan, in the County of Waterford.
He produced an edition in 1714 as The difference between an absolute and limited monarchy of a work in English, from a manuscript in the Bodleian Library by Sir John Fortescue. His own comments were in an extended preface. (The work was re-edited in 1885 as The Governance of England, by Charles Plummer.) This is claimed as the earliest work in English on constitutional history.
Jefferson read this book (in its 1719 edition), and its recommendation of Anglo-Saxon for common lawyers, when he was studying under George Wythe. Later, in 1814, Jefferson mentioned Fortescue Aland with approval of his learning, writing to Thomas Cooper. But he did not accept the way Fortescue Aland left the relationship of church law (in particular the Ten Commandments) to English common law an open question, preferring the analysis of David Houard.
|Wikisource has the text of the 1885–1900 Dictionary of National Biography's article about John Fortescue Aland.|
- Concise Dictionary of National Biography
- John Hutchinson, A Catalogue of Notable Middle Templars: With Brief Biographical Notices (2003 reprint), p. 2.
- http://www.history.ac.uk/office/george_alpha.html, http://www.history.ac.uk/office/george_appt3.html
- David Lemmings, The Independence of the Judiciary in Eighteenth-Century England, p. 137 in Peter Birks (editor), The Life of the Law (1993).
- Wormuth, Francis D. (1949). The origins of modern constitutionalism. Harper & Bros.
- Kemp Malone, Albert C. Baugh, The Literary History of England: Vol 1: The Middle Ages (to 1500) (1959 reprint), p. 305.
- Stanley R. Hauer, Thomas Jefferson and the Anglo-Saxon Language, PMLA, Vol. 98, No. 5 (Oct., 1983), pp. 879-898.
|Parliament of Great Britain|
Sir John Pratt
William Woodward Knight
|Member of Parliament for Midhurst
With: William Woodward Knight
William Woodward Knight
The Viscount Midleton
|Peerage of Ireland|
|New creation||Baron Fortescue of Credan