Falconer, Thomas (1805-1882) (DNB00)

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FALCONER, THOMAS (1805–1882), county court judge, second son of the Rev. Thomas Falconer, M.D., of Bath (1772–1839) [q. v.], by his wife Frances, daughter of Lieutenant-colonel Robert Raitt of the 2nd regiment, a great-grandson of William Falconer, recorder of Chester. He was born on 25 June 1805, and having been admitted a member of Lincoln's Inn on 13 Nov. 1823, was called to the bar on 8 Feb. 1830. Falconer practised as an equity draftsman and conveyancer, and from 1837 to 1840 held the post of revising barrister for the boroughs of Finsbury, Tower Hamlets, and Marylebone. He subsequently spent more than two years in travelling through North America, returning to England in December 1842. In 1850 he was appointed by the governor-general and the council of Canada arbitrator on behalf of that province for the purpose of determining the boundaries between Canada and New Brunswick. On 29 July 1851 he was nominated colonial secretary of Western Australia, but resigning this appointment, he was appointed by Lord-chancellor Truro judge of the county courts of Glamorganshire and Breconshire and of the district of Rhayader on 22 Dec. 1851. After sitting on the bench for thirty years he retired in December 1881, and died at Bath on 28 Aug. 1882, in the seventy-eighth year of his age. Falconer was a laborious worker, a staunch liberal, and an energetic opponent of abuses. He was a member of several learned societies, and was a traveller of much experience. He contributed some articles to the ‘Westminster Review’ and the ‘Colonial Magazine,’ was the author of several books, and of a very large number of pamphlets.

The following is a list of his more important works:

  1. ‘The History, Opinions, and Present Legal Position of the English Presbyterians,’ published under the direction of the English Presbyterian Association (anon.), London, 1834, 8vo. Some passages of this work were written by other hands.
  2. ‘Cases of Controverted Elections, determined in Committees of the House of Commons, in the Second Parliament of the Reign of Queen Victoria,’ by Thomas Falconer and Edward H. Fitzherbert, London, 1839, 8vo.
  3. ‘On the Discovery of the Mississippi, and on the South-Western Oregon and North-Western Boundary of the United States, with a translation from the original manuscript of Memoirs, &c., relating to the discovery of the Mississippi,’ by Robert Cavelier de la Salle and the Chevalier Henry de Tonty, London, 1844, 12mo.
  4. ‘The Oregon Question,’ London, 1845, 8vo; another edition, New York, 1845; second edition, London, 1845, 8vo.
  5. ‘On Probate Courts,’ London, 1850, 8vo.
  6. ‘On Surnames and the Rules of Law affecting their Change,’ Cardiff, 1862, 12mo, privately printed; second edition, with additions, London, 1862, 8vo.
  7. ‘Supplement to an Essay on Surnames, and the Rules of Law affecting their Change, with Comments on the Speeches delivered in the House of Commons by Sir G. Grey, Bart., and the Solicitor-General,’ London, 1863, 8vo.
  8. ‘List of County Court Judges;’ ‘Note on the Abolition of certain Franchise Gaols,’ London, 1865, 8vo, privately printed.
  9. ‘On County Courts, Local Courts of Record, and on the Changes proposed to be made in such Courts in the Second Report of the Judicature Commissioners,’ London, 1873, 8vo.

[Falconer's List of County Court Judges, p. 8; Falconer's Bibliography of the Writings of the Falconer Family, pp. 20–30; Debrett's House of Commons and the Judicial Bench, 1881, p. 391; Wilkins's History of Merthyr Tydfil (1867), pp. 353–7; Law Times, lxxiii. 315–16; Merthyr Express, 2 Sept. 1882, p. 6; Illustrated London News, 16 Sept. 1882, where a portrait of Falconer will be found; Lincoln's Inn Registers; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

G. F. R. B.