Cyril Asquith, Baron Asquith of Bishopstone

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Cyril Asquith

Cyril Asquith, Baron Asquith of Bishopstone, PC (5 February 1890 – 24 August 1954) was an English barrister, judge and law lord.

Early life and career[edit]

Cyril Asquith was the fourth son and youngest child of H. H. Asquith – later Prime Minister and subsequently Earl of Oxford and Asquith – from his first marriage, to Helen Kelsall Melland.

He was educated at Summer Fields School, Winchester College and Balliol College, Oxford, where he was a foundation scholar, like his father and his brother, Raymond. Asquith obtained Firsts in classical moderations in 1911 and in literae humaniores in 1913. At Oxford he won the Hertford, Craven and Ireland prizes, and was elected Eldon scholar. In 1913 he was elected a fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford.

During the First World War he served in the 16th Battalion (Queen's Westminster Rifles), London Regiment, gaining the rank of captain. In September 1917 he joined the Ministry of Munitions delegation on the British War Mission to the United States, and served for a time in America.[1]

He was called to the bar at the Inner Temple in 1920, and was a pupil in the chambers of William Jowitt who, as Lord Chancellor, recommended Asquith's promotions to the Court of Appeal and the House of Lords. In 1936 he was elected to serve on the Liberal Party Council.[2] He took silk in 1936, was appointed Recorder of Salisbury in 1937, and was elected Bencher of the Inner Temple in 1939.

Judicial career[edit]

Asquith was appointed as a Justice of the King's Bench Division of the High Court in 1938, receiving the customary knighthood.[3] His appointment caused some surprise at the bar, and the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Hewart, felt that he had not been properly consulted about the appointment. In 1946, Asquith was appointed a Lord Justice of Appeal and was sworn into the Privy Council.

On 23 April 1951 he was appointed a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary and was made a life peer as Baron Asquith of Bishopstone, of Bishopstone in the County of Sussex.[4] He held office until his death in 1954.

Asquith was conservative as a judge. Famously, in Candler v. Crane, Christmas & Co. (1951), in response to Lord Denning's dissent that "there were the timorous souls who were fearful of allowing a new cause of action", Asquith wrote that "If this relegates me to the company of timorous souls, I must face that consequence with such fortitude as I can command".

In October 1951, he was unexpectedly offered the Lord Chancellorship by Winston Churchill, but declined the offer.


He married Anne Stephanie Pollock (27 April 1896 – 1964), daughter of Sir Adrian Donald Wilde Pollock, of the Pollock Baronets, on 12 February 1918. They had four children:[5]


  1. ^ Who’s Who in the British War Mission in the United States of America, 2nd Ed; Edward J. Clode, 1918: 3
  2. ^ The Liberal Magazine, 1936
  3. ^ "No. 34498". The London Gazette. 1 April 1938. p. 2148. 
  4. ^ "No. 39212". The London Gazette. 24 April 1951. p. 2327. 
  5. ^ L. G. Pine, The New Extinct Peerage 1884-1971: Containing Extinct, Abeyant, Dormant and Suspended Peerages With Genealogies and Arms (London, U.K.: Heraldry Today, 1972), page 16
  6. ^ Charles Mosley, editor, Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage, 107th edition, 3 volumes (Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.A.: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, 2003), volume 3, page 4095
  7. ^ Charles Mosley, editor, Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage, 107th edition, 3 volumes (Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.A.: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, 2003), volume 1, page 1272.

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