Eyre, Robert (DNB00)

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EYRE, Sir ROBERT (1666–1735), judge, eldest son and heir of Sir Samuel Eyre [q. v.] of Newhouse, Wiltshire, and cousin of Sir Giles Eyre [q. v.], both judges of the king's bench under William III, was born in 1666, entered Lincoln's Inn in April 1683, was called to the bar in February 1689, and went the western circuit. He became recorder of Salisbury in 1696, succeeding his cousin Sir Giles, and represented the borough in the last three parliaments of William III and the first of Anne, 1698–1710. In May 1707 he was made a queen's counsel, and on 21 Oct. 1708 succeeded Sir James Montagu as solicitor-general. He was a manager of Sacheverell's impeachment, although he had disapproved of it, and advised merely burning the sermon and confining its author during the session, and appeared afterwards against the persons accused of the riots arising out of that trial. Just before the whig administration resigned he was appointed a judge of the queen's bench in succession to Mr. Justice Gould, 5 May 1710, and was knighted. Upon the accession of George I he was appointed chancellor to the Prince of Wales, with a patent allowing him to advise the prince, and take fees in spite of his judgeship. Hence in 1718, when the opinion of the judges was taken upon the king's prerogative touching the marriages of members of his family, he differed from the other judges in favour of the prince. This, however, did not prevent his promotion. He became lord chief baron 16 Nov. 1723, and lord chief justice of the common pleas 27 May 1725. Charges were made against him in 1729 of having corruptly assisted in prison Thomas Bambridge [q. v.], the warden of Newgate, who had been convicted before him for misconduct in the management of the gaol. A committee of the House of Commons investigated the charges and acquitted Eyre. He was the intimate friend of Godolphin, Marlborough, and Walpole and Burnet, and appears to have been a peculiarly haughty man. He died 28 Dec. 1735, and was buried in St. Thomas's, Salisbury, 7 Jan. 1736. By his wife, Elizabeth, daughter of Edward Rudge of Warley Place, Essex, who died in 1724, he had three sons and one daughter.

[Foss's Lives of the Judges; Burnet's History of his own Time; Redington's Treasury Papers, 1707–14; Hoare's Wiltshire; Luttrell's Diary; State Trials, vols. xv. and xvii.; Raymond's Reports, 1309, 1331.]

J. A. H.