John Coleridge, 1st Baron Coleridge

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The Lord Coleridge
The Lord Coleridge
Lord Coleridge by Eden Upton Eddis
Lord Chief Justice of England
In office
29 November 1880 – 14 June 1894
MonarchQueen Victoria
Preceded bySir Alexander Cockburn, Bt
Succeeded byThe Lord Russell of Killowen
Chief Justice of the Common Pleas
In office
November 1873 – 20 November 1880
MonarchQueen Victoria
Preceded bySir William Bovill
Succeeded byHimself
as Lord Chief Justice of England
Attorney General for England
In office
10 November 1871 – 20 November 1873
MonarchQueen Victoria
Prime MinisterWilliam Ewart Gladstone
Preceded byRobert Collier
Succeeded byHenry James
Solicitor General for England
In office
12 December 1868 – 10 November 1871
MonarchQueen Victoria
Prime MinisterWilliam Ewart Gladstone
Preceded bySir Richard Baggallay
Succeeded bySir George Jessel
Personal details
John Duke Coleridge

3 December 1820
Ottery St Mary, Devon
United Kingdom
Died14 June 1894(1894-06-14) (aged 73)
Westminster, London
United Kingdom
Political partyLiberal
Spouse(s)Jane Fortescue Seymour
Amy Augusta Jackson Lawford
ChildrenMildred Coleridge
Bernard Coleridge
Stephen Coleridge
Gilbert Coleridge
Alma materEton College
Balliol College, Oxford
OccupationBarrister, Politician

John Duke Coleridge, 1st Baron Coleridge, PC (3 December 1820 – 14 June 1894) was an English lawyer, judge and Liberal politician. He held the posts, in turn, of Solicitor General for England and Wales, Attorney General for England and Wales, Chief Justice of the Common Pleas and Lord Chief Justice of England.

Background and education[edit]

Coleridge was the eldest son of John Taylor Coleridge, and the great-nephew of the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. He was educated at Eton and Balliol College, Oxford, and was called to the bar in 1846.

Coleridge was a member of the Canterbury Association from 24 June 1851.[1]

Legal career[edit]

Coleridge established a successful legal practice on the western circuit. From 1853 to 1854 he held the post of secretary to the Royal Commission on the City of London.[2] In 1865 he was elected to the House of Commons for Exeter for the Liberal Party. He made a favourable impression on the leaders of his party and when the Liberals came to office in 1868 under William Ewart Gladstone, Coleridge was appointed Solicitor-General. In 1871 he was promoted to Attorney-General, a post he held until 1873. In 1871 he was also involved in the high-publicity Tichborne Case. In 1873 he was described by the Manchester-based Women's Suffrage Journal as a "firm and consistent" supporter of women's suffrage.[3]

In November 1873 Coleridge succeeded Sir William Bovill as Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, and in January 1874 was raised to the peerage as Baron Coleridge, of Ottery St Mary in the County of Devon.[4]

In 1875, the three English common law courts (the Court of Queen's Bench, the Court of Common Pleas, and the Court of the Exchequer) merged to become divisions of the new High Court of Justice. The head of each court (Lord Chief Justice Sir Alexander Cockburn, Chief Justice of the Common Pleas Lord Coleridge, and Chief Baron of the Exchequer Sir Fitzroy Kelly) continued in post. After the deaths of Kelly and Cockburn in 1880, the three divisions were merged into a single division, with Lord Coleridge as Lord Chief Justice of England.[5] In 1884, he was elected as a member of the American Philosophical Society.[6] Despite his health failing towards the end of his life he remained in this office until his death on 14 June 1894, aged 74.


On 11 August 1846, Coleridge married Jane Fortescue Seymour, daughter of the Rev. George Turner Seymour of Freshwater, Isle of Wight, herself an accomplished artist who notably painted John Henry Newman. They had three sons and a daughter:[4]

His first wife died on 6 February 1878. He remained a widower until 13 August 1885, when he married Amy Augusta Jackson Lawford, daughter of Henry Baring Lawford, who survived him.[4]

When Coleridge's daughter Mildred went to live with the lawyer Charles Warren Adams – they married in 1885, Lord Coleridge refusing to attend the wedding – the family considered the match inappropriate. Mildred's brother Bernard wrote her a letter disparaging Adams as a fortune hunter, which prompted Adams to sue for libel. The resultant legal proceedings in November 1884 and November 1886 were highly embarrassing for Lord Coleridge, who was obliged as Lord Chief Justice to appear in the court of which he was the senior judge.[7][8]

Leading cases and judgements[edit]


Coat of arms of John Coleridge, 1st Baron Coleridge
Coronet of a British Baron.svg
Coleridge Escutcheon.png
A crucifix Or rising from an otter as in the arms.
Argent on a mount Vert in base an otter Proper; a chief Gules charged with a dove of the field between two crosses patée fitchée Or.
Dexter an otter Proper, gorged with a garland of roses Gules leaved Vert, sinister a lion sable gorged as the former.[9]


  1. ^ Blain, Rev. Michael (2007). The Canterbury Association (1848–1852): A Study of Its Members' Connection (PDF). Christchurch: Project Canterbury. pp. 22–23. Retrieved 20 March 2013.
  2. ^ "List of commissions and officials: 1850–1859 (nos. 53–94)". Office-Holders in Modern Britain: Volume 9. 1984. Retrieved 10 March 2008.
  3. ^ "Election Intelligence". Women's Suffrage Journal. 1 December 1873. Retrieved 8 February 2018.
  4. ^ a b c "Coleridge, Baron (UK, 1874)". Cracroft's Peerage. Retrieved 19 October 2020.
  5. ^ The Lord Burnett of Maldon (14 November 2019). "What's in a Name? The High Court and its Divisions" (PDF). Retrieved 10 October 2020.
  6. ^ "APS Member History". Retrieved 21 May 2021.
  7. ^ Wadlow, Christopher (December 2012). "The Incredible Affair of the Secret Santa". Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice. 7 (12): 855–864. doi:10.1093/jiplp/jps167.
  8. ^ "John Duke Coleridge, 1st baron Coleridge (1820–1894)". University of Leeds. Retrieved 18 October 2020.
  9. ^ Debrett's Peerage. 1878.
  • ^ A short notice of her by Dean Church of St Paul's was published in The Guardian, and was reprinted in her husband's privately printed collection of poems.
  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Coleridge, John Duke Coleridge, 1st Baron". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 6 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 677–678.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Exeter
With: Viscount Courtenay 1865–1868
Edgar Alfred Bowring 1868–1873
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Solicitor General
Succeeded by
Preceded by Attorney General
Succeeded by
Legal offices
Preceded by Chief Justice of the Common Pleas
Succeeded by
(office abolished)
Preceded by Lord Chief Justice of England
Succeeded by
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baron Coleridge
Succeeded by