Peacock, Barnes (DNB00)

From Wikisource
 
Jump to: navigation, search

PEACOCK, Sir BARNES (1810–1890), judge, third son of Lewis H. Peacock, a solicitor practising in Lincoln's Inn Fields, was born in 1810. At the age of eighteen he joined the Inner Temple, but postponed his call to the bar till he had been in practice as a special pleader some five or six years. In 1836 he was called, and joined the home circuit, and presently obtained the name of a sound lawyer. He made his chief reputation as one of the counsel for O'Connell in his appeal to the House of Lords, and it was a technical objection which he suggested that led the majority of the House of Lords to allow the appeal. He pointed out that the indictment contained numerous counts and several separate charges, and that some of the counts had been held to be bad in law. Yet upon this indictment, and upon good counts and bad counts indiscriminately, one general verdict and judgment had been given. This, it is true, had been done in accordance with a practice which, however slovenly, was common, and supposed to be undoubtedly valid, but the House of Lords declared it to be a wrong practice, and that a judgment so given could not stand (see State Trials, new ser. vol. v.)

In spite of this success Peacock did not become a queen's counsel till 1850, when he was also elected a bencher of the Inner Temple. In 1852 he was appointed legal member of the supreme council of the viceroy at Calcutta, in succession to Drinkwater Bethune, and here, in the preparation of various codifying acts, he proved his high excellence as a jurist. He wrote an important minute on the affairs of Oudh, in which he advocated complete annexation. In 1859 he succeeded Sir James Colville in the chief-justiceship of the supreme court in Calcutta, and was knighted. He held the post, the duties of which were modified in 1862 on the constitution of the high court, until 1870. He was indefatigable in moulding the practice of his court as an appellate tribunal, and for eighteen years, with equally remarkable vigour of mind and body, worked in the plains of India with only one furlough. In 1870 he resigned and returned to England, where, in 1872, he was appointed under the act of 1871 a paid member of the judicial committee of the privy council. Here his great knowledge of Indian customs, his persevering industry, and his painstaking accuracy made him a specially useful member of the court. He was sitting to hear appeals only three days before his death, which took place, from failure of the heart, at his house, 40 Cornwall Gardens, Kensington, on 3 Dec. 1890. He was in person slight and short, an indifferent speaker, but possessing rare powers of memory and application. He was twice married; first, to Elizabeth, daughter of W. Fanning, in 1835; and then, in 1870, to Georgina, daughter of Major-general Showers, C.B.

His eldest son, Frederick Barnes Peacock (1836–1894), was born in 1836, educated at Haileybury, entered the Bengal civil service, and landed in India in February 1857. He was employed in the revenue and judicial department of the service, became registrar of the high court in 1864, was president of the committee on the affairs of the king of Oudh, officiating secretary to the board of revenue in 1871, a magistrate and collector in 1873, commissioner of the Dacca division in 1878 and of the Presidency division in 1881. In 1883 he was appointed chief secretary to the government of Bengal for the judicial, political, and appointments departments, an acting member of the board of revenue in 1884, and an actual member in 1887, and in 1890 he was made a C.S.I. and retired. He died on board the Britannia, off Sicily, in April 1894.

[See Times, 4 Dec. 1890 and 25 April 1894; Law Times, 20 Dec. 1890.]

J. A. H.