Gordon Hewart, 1st Viscount Hewart

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The Right Honourable
The Viscount Hewart
Gordon Hewart, 1st Viscount Hewart.jpg
7th Lord Chief Justice of England
In office
8 March 1922 – 12 October 1940
Monarch George V
Preceded by The Lord Trevethin
Succeeded by The Viscount Caldecote
Attorney General for England
In office
10 January 1919 – 6 March 1922
Monarch George V
Prime Minister David Lloyd George
Preceded by Sir F. E. Smith
Succeeded by Sir Ernest Pollock
Solicitor General for England
In office
10 December 1916 – 10 January 1919
Monarch George V
Prime Minister David Lloyd George
Preceded by Sir George Cave
Succeeded by Sir Ernest Pollock
Personal details
Born Gordon Hewart
7 January 1870
Bury, Lancashire, England
Died 5 May 1943(1943-05-05) (aged 73)
Totteridge, Hertfordshire, England
Political party Liberal
Alma mater University College, Oxford
Occupation Politician, judge

Gordon Hewart, 1st Viscount Hewart, PC (7 January 1870 – 5 May 1943) was a politician and judge in the United Kingdom.

Background and education[edit]

Hewart was born in Bury, Lancashire, the eldest son of Giles Hewart, a draper, and Annie Elizabeth Jones. He was educated at Bury Grammar School, Manchester Grammar School and University College, Oxford.

Political and legal career[edit]

Hewart as Lord Chief Justice, by John St Helier Lander.

Hewart began his career as a journalist for the Manchester Guardian and the Morning Leader. He was called to the bar at the Inner Temple in 1902, joining the Northern Circuit. He took silk in 1912.

He was a Liberal Member of Parliament for Leicester from 1913, and, after the constituency was divided in 1918, Leicester East. He was appointed Solicitor General in 1916, receiving the customary knighthood, and was sworn of the Privy Council in 1918. He was Attorney General from 10 January 1919 to 6 March 1922. He entered the Cabinet in 1921, and was Lord Chief Justice of England from 8 March 1922 to 12 October 1940. He was elevated to the peerage as Baron Hewart, of Bury, in the County of Lancaster in 1922 to allow him to sit in the House of Lords as Lord Chief Justice.[1] Upon his retirement in 1940 he was created Viscount Hewart, of Bury in the County Palatine of Lancaster.[2]

In 1929 Hewart published The New Despotism, in which he asserted that the rule of law in Britain was being undermined by the executive at the expense of the legislature and the courts.[3] This book was very controversial and led to the appointment of a Committee on Ministers' Powers—chaired by the Earl of Donoughmore—but its Report rejected Hewart's arguments.

He has been described as "one of the most vigorous and vociferous believers in the impeccability of the English jury system of this or any other century"[4] However, in 1931, Hewart made legal history, when (sitting with Mr Justice Branson and Mr Justice Hawke) he quashed the conviction for murder of William Herbert Wallace, on the grounds that the conviction was not supported by the weight of the evidence. In other words, the jury was wrong.

Lord Hewart was the originator (paraphrased from the original) of the aphorism "Not only must Justice be done; it must also be seen to be done."

He died 5 May 1943 in Totteridge, Barnet, Hertfordshire aged 73.


Lord Hewart married twice; first in 1892 Sarah Wood Riley, daughter of J. H. Riley and secondly in 1934, Jean Stewart, the daughter of J. R. Stewart. With his first wife he had a daughter Katharine and a son and heir, Hugh.[5] When he died in Totteridge, on 5 May 1943, his titles were inherited by his son, Hugh Hewart, 2nd Viscount Hewart.

See also[edit]


Further reading:
R. Jackson, The chief: the biography of Gordon Hewart, lord chief justice of England, 1922–40 (1959)
R. F. V. Heuston, Lives of the Lord Chancellors, 1885–1940 (1964)
R. Stevens, The independence of the judiciary: the view from the lord chancellor's office (1993)
R. Stevens, ‘Hewart, Gordon, first Viscount Hewart (1870–1943)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004)


  1. ^ "No. 32653". The London Gazette. 28 March 1922. pp. 2507–2508.
  2. ^ "No. 34984". The London Gazette. 1 November 1940. p. 6348.
  3. ^ Lord Hewart, The New Despotism (London: Ernest Benn Limited, 1929), p. 17.
  4. ^ The Killing of Julia Wallace, by Jonathan Goodman (Headline, London, 1987), p.251
  5. ^ http://thepeerage.com/p23483.htm

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Eliot Crawshay-Williams and
Ramsay MacDonald
Member of Parliament for Leicester
With: Ramsay MacDonald
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Leicester East
Succeeded by
George Banton
Legal offices
Preceded by
Sir George Cave
Solicitor General for England and Wales
Succeeded by
Sir Ernest Pollock
Preceded by
Sir F. E. Smith
Attorney General for England and Wales
Succeeded by
Sir Ernest Pollock
Preceded by
The Lord Trevethin
Lord Chief Justice of England
Succeeded by
The Viscount Caldecote
Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
New Creation
Viscount Hewart
Succeeded by
Hugh Hewart