Thomas Townsend Bucknill
'Tommy' Bucknill was born at Exminster in 1845, the second son of Sir John Charles Bucknill FRS, a famous mental health specialist who was knighted in 1894 in recognition of his services as one of the founders of the Volunteer Movement. Thomas Bucknill was educated at Westminster School and afterwards at Geneva. He was called to the bar in 1868, became a QC in 1885, and a bencher of the Inner Temple in 1891. From 1885 to 1899 he was Recorder of Exeter. He edited The Cunningham Reports and Sir S. Cook's Common Pleas Reports, and was a leading Counsel on the Admiralty Circuit and on the Western Circuit. He sat as the Conservative Member of Parliament for Epsom from 1892 to 1899, in which year he was raised to the bench, succeeding Sir Henry Hawkins, and was knighted. In 1914 he was appointed a Privy Councillor.
Among the notable cases tried before Bucknill was that in 1912 of poisoner Frederick Seddon, who, on being found guilty of murder appealed directly to Bucknill as a brother Mason and in the name of 'The Great Architect Of The Universe' to overturn the jury’s verdict. According to some sources he gave the First Degree sign, according to others the Sign of Grief and Distress, begging for mercy. Bucknill is reported as having said, with some emotion:
"It is not for me to harrow your feelings – try to make peace with your Maker. We both belong to the same Brotherhood, and though that can have no influence with me this is painful beyond words to have to say what I am saying, but our Brotherhood does not encourage crime, it condemns it."
Bucknill died at Epsom on 4 October 1915.
He was the father of Sir Alfred Townsend Bucknill (1880–1963), also a High Court Judge and who became a Privy Councillor in 1945 and John Alexander Strachey Bucknill who served as Chief Justice of the Straits Settlements and Puisne Judge in Patna, India.
- In the 1981 TV series Lady Killers Christopher Banks played Bucknill in an episode entitled Root of All Evil.
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Thomas Townsend Bucknill
- Bucknill in the Encyclopædia Britannica
- Bucknill in The New York Times 16 January 1899
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
|Member of Parliament for Epsom