Powys, Littleton (DNB00)

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POWYS, Sir LITTLETON (1648?–1732), judge, eldest son of Thomas Powys of Henley in Shropshire, the representative of one branch of the ancient Welsh family of Powys, by his first wife, Mary, daughter of Sir Adam Littleton, bart., was born about 1648, and named after his maternal grandfather. He became a student of Lincoln's Inn, and was called to the bar in May 1671. In 1688 he took the side of William of Orange, read his declaration at Shrewsbury, and, when the new government was established, was appointed a judge on the Chester circuit in May 1689. In 1692 he became a serjeant (Luttrell, Diary, ii. 404, 427) and a knight, and eventually was raised to the bench of the exchequer on 29 Oct. 1695 (cf. Calendar of Treasury Papers, 1697–1702, lvii. 54). He was transferred to the court of king's bench in June 1700 (see Luttrell, Diary, iv. 653, v. 11), but did not take his seat till 29 Jan. 1701. While a member of this court he was one of the majority of judges who heard the well-known leading case Ashby v. White, arising out of the Aylesbury election, and decided against the plaintiff (see Luttrell, Diary, v. 358, 380, 519). At the age of seventy-eight he retired on a pension of 1,500l. a year on 26 Oct. 1726, and died on 16 March 1732.

He appears to have been a dull, respectable judge, not so able as his brother, Sir Thomas Powys [q. v.], but less of a political partisan. His infelicitous way of expressing himself made him the object of much pointless satire (Harris, Life of Lord Hardwicke, i. 82, 84; Cooksey, Lord Somers and Lord Hardwicke, pp. 57, 66).

[Foss's Judges of England; State Trials, xv. 1407–22; Raymond's Reports; Public Records, 9th Rep. App. ii. 252; Collins's Peerage, viii. 578.]

J. A. H.