Fonblanque, John de Grenier (DNB00)

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FONBLANQUE, JOHN DE GRENIER (1760–1837), jurist, son of Jean de Grenier Fonblanque, a naturalised Englishman and banker in London, who was descended from an ancient and noble Huguenot family of Languedoc, was born in 1760. He was educated at Harrow and Oxford; became a student of the Middle Temple, and was called to the bar by that society 24 Jan. 1783. He soon obtained a good practice as an equity lawyer. He is said to have caused quite a sensation by disputing the then established, but now exploded, doctrine of scintilla juris. He was leading counsel on behalf of the merchants of London in their opposition to the Quebec Bill of 1791, and pleaded their cause at the bar of the House of Commons. By the influence of the Duke of Bedford he sat for Camelford, 1802–6. In 1804 he was made king's counsel. Fonblanque was a steady whig and a personal friend of the Prince of Wales, for whom he is supposed to have written the letters addressed to George III on his exclusion from the army. He died 4 Jan. 1837, and was interred in the Temple Church, in the vault belonging to the Middle Temple, of which society he was senior bencher. At the time of his death Fonblanque was called ‘Father of the English Bar.’ Writing to one of his sons Lord Lyndhurst says of him: ‘I have known jurists as profound as your father, but I have known no one who was so perfect a master of the philosophy of law.’ In 1786 Fonblanque married the daughter of Colonel John Fitzgerald, by whom he left three sons and a daughter. He assumed the old family prefix de Grenier in addition to the name of Fonblanque by royal license in May 1828. Fonblanque edited the ‘Treatise on Equity’ ascribed to Henry Ballow [q. v.], with such additions and improvements that it became almost a new work. It enjoyed considerable reputation as an authority on the subject, and went through several editions (5th ed. 1820). He also wrote two tracts, ‘A Serious Exhortation to the Electors of Great Britain’ (1791?), and ‘Doubts as to the Expediency of adopting the Recommendation of the Bullion Committee,’ 1810.

[Gent. Mag. March 1837, p. 325; Fonblanque's Life of Albany Fonblanque, pp. 1–4 (1874); County Courts Chron. and Bankruptcy Gaz. 1 Feb. 1866, p. 44; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

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