James Eyre (judge)

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Sir James Eyre, 1770 portrait by Lemuel Francis Abbott.

Sir James Eyre PC, (1734 – 1 July 1799) was an English judge, the son of the Rev. Thomas Eyre, of Wells, Somerset.[1]


He was educated at Winchester College and at St John's College, Oxford, which he left without taking a degree. He was called to the bar at Gray's Inn in 1755, Thomas Parker, chief baron of the exchequer. He commenced practice in the lord mayors and sheriffs courts, paying £63 (2011: £8,000) for one of the four counsel to the City of London Corporation.[1]

He was appointed Recorder of London in 1763 and knighted in 1770.

He was counsel for the plaintiff in the case of Wilkes v. Wood, and made a brilliant speech in condemnation of the execution of general search warrants. His refusal to voice the remonstrances of the corporation against the exclusion of Wilkes from Parliament earned him the recognition of the ministry, and he was appointed a Baron of the Exchequer in 1772 and Chief Baron of the Exchequer in 1787. From June 1792 to January 1793 he was Chief Commissioner of the Great Seal. In 1793 he was made Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, and presided over the trials of Horne Tooke, Thomas Crosfield and others.

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in May 1791.[2]

He died in 1799 and was buried at Ruscombe in Berkshire.


  1. ^ a b Douglas Hay, ‘Eyre, Sir James (bap. 1734, d. 1799)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008
  2. ^ "Library and Archive Catalogue". Royal Society. Retrieved 1 December 2010. 

Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "article name needed". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Alexander Wedderburn
Chief Justice of the Common Pleas
Succeeded by
John Scott
Preceded by
Sir John Skynner
Chief Baron of the Exchequer
Succeeded by
Sir Archibald Macdonald