William Grantham

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Sir William Grantham
High Court of Justice, Queen's Bench Division
In office
Personal details
Born23 October 1835 (1835-10-23)
Lewes, Sussex
Died30 November 1911 (1911-12-01) (aged 76)
Eaton Square, London
Political partyConservative
RelationsWarren de la Rue
Thomas de la Rue
Alexander Grantham
Professionbarrister, politician, judge

Sir William Grantham (23 October 1835 – 30 November 1911) was a British barrister, politician and judge.


Sir William Grantham was born 23 October 1835 in Lewes, Sussex, England to George Grantham and Sarah Grantham (née Verrall). He was educated at King's College School, and was called to the bar in 1863, becoming a member of the Inner Temple. He was appointed Queen's Counsel in 1877.[1]

Grantham married Emma L Wilson on 15 February 1865 in Sussex, England. The couple had seven children: William Wilson Grantham, Emma Laura Grantham, Constance Grantham, Frederick Grantham, Gertrude Grantham, Maud Grantham and Muriel Georgina Grantham. He was related to the famous British astronomer and chemist Warren de la Rue who was the paternal grandfather of the wife of his son, William Wilson Grantham.

He was a Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) for East Surrey from 1874 to 1885 and was elected as for Croydon in 1885, but resigned in 1886 on his appointment as a judge of the Queen's Bench Division. In parliament, he was a fairly frequent speaker who was seen as a militant opponent of Gladstone.

As a judge, he was seen as competent but with a weakness for commenting on cases in a way that brought him into conflict with various groups, a habit that eventually led to hints in the newspapers that he should retire. His tenure as a judge was mainly uncontroversial until 1906, when, in a series of decisions on election petitions following the general election of that year, in Bodmin, Maidstone and Great Yarmouth, he was seen as favouring the Conservatives. A censure motion was proposed in the House of Commons and led to a vigorous debate, but the government declined to take it further, possibly because of the precedent it would set.

Five years later, an indiscreet speech to the grand jury in Liverpool led to the judge being rebuked by the Prime Minister, H. H. Asquith, in the House of Commons,[2] 'one of the severest ever dealt to an English judge by a minister of the crown'.[3] He died later that year, of pneumonia, in his house in Eaton Square, London, aged 76.


  1. ^ "Obituary: Sir William Grantham", Evening Post, Volume LXXXII, Issue 132, 1 December 1911, Page 6.
  2. ^ Hansard, HC 5ser vol 22 col 366.
  3. ^ J. B. Atlay, ‘Grantham, Sir William (1835–1911)’, rev. Robert Stevens, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004


External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Peter John Locke King
James Watney
Member of Parliament for East Surrey
With: James Watney
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Croydon
Succeeded by
Sidney Herbert