William Bodkin (judge)

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The grave of William Bodkin, Highgate Cemetery, London

Sir William Henry Bodkin (5 August 1791[1] – 26 March 1874[2]) was a British barrister and Conservative Party politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1841 to 1847, before becoming a judge.

Early life[edit]

Bodkin was the son of Peter Bodkin from Galway and his wife Sarah.[1] His father's family had long connections with County Galway.[3]

He was educated at the Islington Academy and called to the bar in 1826 at Gray's Inn.[1]


Bodkin initially practised on the Home Circuit, taking mostly criminal cases at the Middlesex, Westminster and Kent Sessions, and in the Central Criminal Court in the Old Bailey.[3] was appointed as a recorder of Dover in 1834.[1]

He was elected at the 1841 general election as a Member of Parliament (MP) for the borough of Rochester in Kent,[4] winning the seat by a margin of only two votes over the Liberal Party candidate Viscount Melgund.[3] Bodkin was defeated at the 1847 general election[5] as a result of his support for the free trade measures introduced by Sir Robert Peel.[1] He did not stand at the 1852 general election,[5] but unsuccessfully contested the borough at a by-election in February 1856.[5]

He was knighted in 1867.[6] He later became a Justice of the Peace (J.P) in Middlesex, and a Deputy Lieutenant of Middlesex,[1] and judge of the Court of Sessions in Middlesex.[1]

He was an active member of the Society of Arts, becoming its vice-president.[1][3] He wrote several pamphlets on the English Poor Laws.[1][3]

Bodkin died aged 82 on 26 March 1874,[2] after a long and painful illness.[3] He was buried in the family grave at Highgate Cemetery[7]

Personal life[edit]

Bodkin lived at West Hill in Highgate, North London.[3]

He married twice, first in 1812[3] to Sara Sophia Poland,[1] who died in 1848, and then in 1865 to Sarah Constance Miles, the daughter of Joseph Johnson Miles, a J.P from Highgate.[1] He had one son and one daughter.[1]

He is buried with his first wife.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Mair, Robert Henry (1870). Debrett's Illustrated House of Commons and the Judicial Bench 1870. London: Dean & Son. p. 455. 
  2. ^ a b Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "R" (part 2)
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h "The Late Sir W. H. Bodkin". The Times. London. 28 March 1874. p. 8, col C. 
  4. ^ "No. 19998". The London Gazette. 13 July 1841. p. 1812. 
  5. ^ a b c Craig, F. W. S. (1989) [1977]. British parliamentary election results 1832–1885 (2nd ed.). Chichester: Parliamentary Research Services. p. 258. ISBN 0-900178-26-4. 
  6. ^ "From the LONDON GAZETTE, Tuesday, Aug. 6". The Times. London. 7 August 1867. p. 3, col A. 
  7. ^ "The Late Sir William Bodkin.-The mortal". The Times. London. 2 April 1874. p. 5, col B. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Thomas Hobhouse
Ralph Bernal
Member of Parliament for Rochester
With: James Douglas Stoddart Douglas
Succeeded by
Ralph Bernal
Thomas Twisden Hodges