Reynolds, James (1686-1739) (DNB00)

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REYNOLDS, JAMES (1686–1739), judge, born at Clerkenwell on 6 Jan. 1685–6, was second son of James Reynolds of Helions Bumpstead, Essex, afterwards of Bury St. Edmunds, by his first wife, Bridget Parker. His grandfather was Sir James Reynolds of Castle Camps, Cambridgeshire. Sir John Reynolds [q. v.] and Robert Reynolds (fl. 1640–1660) [q. v.] were his uncles. He was educated at St. John's College, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. in 1701, proceeded M.A. in 1705, and was elected a fellow. He was called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn on 11 Nov. 1712, and the same year was elected recorder of Bury St. Edmunds, for which borough he was returned to parliament on 16 May 1717, having in the meantime been made serjeant-at-law (24 Jan. 1714–15).

At the conference held by the judges at Serjeants' Inn on 22–24 Jan. 1717–18 on the question whether the royal prerogative included the care and education of the royal grandchildren, Reynolds argued with great learning and ability the claim of the Prince of Wales to be both natural and legal guardian of his children. Appointed on 16 March 1724–5 to the puisne-judgeship in the king's bench vacant by the advancement of Sir Robert Raymond [q. v.] to the chief-justiceship, he was continued in office on the accession of George II. On 30 April 1730 he succeeded Sir Thomas Pengelly [q. v.] as lord chief baron of the exchequer. Failing eyesight compelled his resignation in July 1738, when he was succeeded by Sir John Comyns [q. v.] His death followed on 9 Feb. 1738–9. His remains were interred in St. James's Church, Bury St. Edmunds, where a costly but inartistic monument and magniloquent epitaph perpetuate his fame. His portrait was engraved by Vertue (Bromley).

Reynolds married twice. His first wife, Mary, daughter of Thomas Smith of Thrandeston Hall, Suffolk, died on 18 July 1736. His second wife, married in July 1737, was Alicia Rainbird. He had issue by neither wife. His estate passed to the Frere family, with which he was connected by the marriage of his first wife's sister with Edward Frere of Thwaite, Suffolk. Some of his letters are in Addit. MS. 32556, ff. 121, 196, 200, 232.

[Lincoln's Inn Reg.; Grad. Cant.; Addit. MSS. 19146 f. 344, 21498 f. 52; Baker's St. John's Coll. Cambr., ed. Mayor, i. 302; Wynne's Serjeants-at-law; Howell's State Trials, xv. 1203; Hist. Reg. Chron. Diary, 16 March 1724–1725, 30 April 1730; Lord Raymond's Rep. p. 1381; Gillingwater's St. Edmund's Bury, p. 184; Foss's Judges of England; Hist. MSS. Comm. 11th Rep. App. iv. 264; Gent. Mag. 1736 p. 424, 1737 p. 450, 1738 p. 381, 1739 p. 106; Notes and Queries, 3rd ser. iii. 54; Lysons's Mag. Brit. ii. (pt. i.) 155; Haydn's Book of Dignities, ed. Ockerby.]

J. M. R.