Edward Fry

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Sir Edward Fry
Lord Justice of Appeal
In office
Justice of the High Court
In office
Personal details
Born(1827-11-04)4 November 1827
Died19 October 1918(1918-10-19) (aged 90)

Lord Justice Fry in the mid to late 1870s

Sir Edward Fry, GCB, GCMG, FRS, FBA (4 November 1827 – 19 October 1918) was an English Lord Justice of Appeal (1883–1892) and an arbitrator on the Permanent Court of Arbitration.[1]


Joseph Fry (1795-1879) and Mary Ann Swaine were his parents. He was a Quaker from a prominent Bristol family which founded and owned the chocolate firm J. S. Fry & Sons. His grandfather was Joseph Storrs Fry (1767–1835) and his brothers included a second Joseph Storrs Fry (1826-1913) who ran the firm and Lewis Fry (1832-1921) who was a politician.

He was called to the bar in 1854, took silk in 1869 and became a judge in Chancery in 1877, receiving the customary knighthood.[2][3] He was raised to the Court of Appeal in 1883, and was sworn of the Privy Council.[4][5] He retired in 1892. Retirement from the court did not mean retirement from legal work. He sat on some cases in the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. In 1897 he accepted an offer to preside over the royal commission on the Irish Land Acts. He also acted as an arbitrator in the Welsh coal strike (1898), the Grimsby fishery dispute (1901) and between the London and North Western Railway Company and its employees (1906, 1907).

Fry was appointed GCMG and GCB in 1907.[6][7]

International legal and arbitration career[edit]

He was also involved in international law. In 1902 he acted as one of five arbitrators at The Hague in the Pious Fund of the Californias dispute between the United States and Mexico, the first dispute between states arbitrated by the Permanent Court of Arbitration. In 1904 he was the British legal assessor on the commission to investigate the Dogger Bank incident where the Russian navy accidentally attacked a British herring fleet in the North Sea. He was involved in the second Hague Conference (1907). In 1908/1909 he was an arbitrator between France and Germany over a case where France had seized deserters (including some German citizens) from German diplomatic protection.[8]

Zoological and botanical work[edit]

Besides law he was on the council of University College London and interested in Zoology (he was elected to the Royal Society in 1883).

He wrote two books on bryophytes, British Mosses (1892) and, with his daughter Agnes, The Liverworts: British and Foreign (1911).

"Map showing where opium is grown in China" reproduced from the British government White Paper on China in 1908

Suppression of opium[edit]

In his preface to the 1884 report to the Houses of Parliament titled The Indo-Chinese opium trade considered in relation to its history, morality, and expediency, and its influence on Christian missions, Fry wrote:

"We English, by the policy we have pursued, are morally responsible for every acre of land in China which is withdrawn from the cultivation of grain and devoted to that of the poppy; so that the fact of the growth of the drug [opium] in China ought only to increase our sense of responsibility".[9]


Judgments of Fry include:


Edward Fry married in 1859 Mariabella Hodgkin (1833–1930), daughter of John Hodgkin, granddaughter of Luke Howard, and sister of the historian, Thomas Hodgkin: and they were the parents of seven daughters, one dying young, and two sons.[12][13] They lived in Highgate at 5 The Grove, a house later owned by the singer George Michael.[14]


  1. ^ "Death Of Sir E. Fry. A Great Equity Lawyer. The Hague Arbitration Court". The Times. 21 October 1918. p. 2.
  2. ^ "The New Judge". The Times. No. 28927. London. 27 April 1877. p. 10; col F.
  3. ^ "London Gazette, Friday, May 4". The Times. No. 28934. London. 5 May 1877. p. 10; col B.
  4. ^ "London Gazette, Tuesday, May 1". The Times. No. 28931. London. 2 May 1877. p. 9; col F.
  5. ^ "London Gazette, Tuesday, April 24". The Times. No. 30803. London. 25 April 1883. p. 8; col B.
  6. ^ "The King has been pleased to approve of the following appointments". The Times. No. 38320. London. 30 April 1907. p. 9; col E.
  7. ^ London Gazette Issue 28019, p.3080, published on 7 May 1907. Retrieved on 7 October 2008
  8. ^ "The Casablanca Affair, 1908-9". www.mtholyoke.edu. Retrieved 8 September 2021.
  9. ^ Spencer Hill, J. (1884). The Indo-Chinese opium trade considered in relation to its history, morality, and expediency, and its influence on Christian missions. London: Henry Frowde. Prefatory note by Lord Justice Fry.
  10. ^ The Law Reports, Queens Bench Division (1887). "In the Arbitration between Secretary of State for Home Department and Fletcher" (Vol XVIII): 340–346. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  11. ^ "Report 63 (1988) – Jurisdiction of Local Courts Over Foreign Land". Law Reform Commission, New South Wales. 30 May 2001. Retrieved 1 September 2008. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  12. ^ Agnew, Sinéad. "Fry, Sir Edward". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/33283. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  13. ^ "FamilySearch.org". ancestors.familysearch.org. Retrieved 23 January 2021.
  14. ^ Richardson, John (1983). Highgate: Its history since the Fifteeenth Century. Eyre and Spottiswoode. ISBN 0-9503656-4-5.


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