Philip Cecil Crampton

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Philip Cecil Crampton PC (May 1783, Dublin – 29 December 1862)[1][2] was a judge, politician and Solicitor-General for Ireland, and a noted supporter of the cause of total abstinence from alcohol.

He was born in Dublin, the fourth son of the Reverend Cecil Crampton, vicar of Headfort, County Galway, and Nicola Marsh. His namesake, the celebrated doctor Sir Philip Crampton, was a cousin, a fact which benefitted his career. He was educated at the University of Dublin, where he was an outstanding student, and gold medallist; later becoming a Fellow of the University (1807–16) and Regius Professor of Law in 1816. He entered Lincoln's Inn in 1808. He was called to the Irish Bar in 1810.

He was appointed Solicitor-General in 1830. He was elected Member of Parliament (MP) for Saltash in February 1831,[3] and MP for Milborne Port in July 1831.[2] He was judge of the Court of Queen's Bench (Ireland) 1834-1859.

In politics he was a Whig and a strong supporter of progressive Whig causes such as Parliamentary reform and abolition of the slave trade. Though a fine academic lawyer and a "pleasant and tactful" advocate, he was not considered much of a politician. His various proposals to reform the Irish legal system met with little support, and he clashed repeatedly with Daniel O'Connell (he was to be one of the judges at O'Connell's trial in 1844).

O'Connell opposed Crampton's appointment to the Bench, calling him "utterly incompetent", lacking in integrity, and qualified only by his friendships with senior judges. O'Connell however disliked and despised nearly all the Irish judges of his time, and his low opinion of Crampton was not generally shared: when he retired, it was said that no judge's reputation stood higher. Most contemporaries praised him as "a true gentleman, a true Christian, and a noted philanthropist".

He married firstly in 1817 Sidney Mary Browne, who died in 1839, and secondly Margaret Duffy. By his second marriage he had one son, Cecil, who died young.

He lived in considerable state at his home St. Valery, near Bray, County Wicklow, but was not noted for hospitality. A strict advocate of temperance, he refused to serve alcohol, and according to a much repeated story, poured the entire contents of the St. Valery wine cellar into the River Dargle.

He retired from the Bench in 1859 and died at St. Valery in 1862. Cecil, his only son died four years later while still in his teens. The estate passed to another branch of the Crampton family.

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Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Earl of Darlington
John Gregson
Member of Parliament for Saltash
February 1831 – May 1831
With: Earl of Darlington
Succeeded by
Frederick Villiers
Bethell Walrond
Preceded by
Richard Lalor Sheil
George Byng
Member of Parliament for Milborne Port
July 1831–1832
With: George Byng
Constituency abolished
Legal offices
Preceded by
John Doherty
Solicitor-General for Ireland
1830–1834
Succeeded by
Michael O'Loghlen