Sedgwick, James (DNB00)

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SEDGWICK, JAMES (1775–1851), author, son of James Sedgwick of Westminster, was born in London in 1775. He matriculated from Pembroke College, Oxford, on 30 Oct. 1797, but did not graduate. He was called to the bar at the Middle Temple on 23 Jan. 1801. In 1809 he was appointed a commissioner of excise at Edinburgh, and in 1811 chairman of the excise board. In 1815 he was nominated by the treasury to a seat at the London excise board, but his patent was cancelled in consequence of the prince regent having promised the Marchioness of Hertford that Colonel Sir Francis Hastings Doyle should have the first vacancy. By way of compensation Sedgwick was appointed examiner of the droits of admiralty accounts, with his previous salary of 1,500l. a year. He was promoted by patent, dated 25 Aug. 1817, to be chairman of the board of stamps. At the beginning of 1818 he conducted an inquiry into the conduct of the stamp revenue in Scotland, and discovered great abuses. His effort to secure the permanent dismissal of the officer to whom the disorder was attributable proved, to his irritation, unsuccessful. At the same time he gave offence to Lord Liverpool and the government by printing ‘Observations’ on the position of affairs and engaging in controversy in the ‘Morning Chronicle’ respecting the inquiry. His fourteen letters were reissued in the form of three pamphlets. When, in 1826, the board of stamps was dissolved, he alone of all the members was denied a pension. In 1828, however, he received a small retiring allowance of 400l. a year. Henceforth he had a grievance, and the greater part of his life was spent in memorialising successive administrations or petitioning parliament. In 1845 he published another series of ‘Letters addressed to Lord Granville Somerset and others’ on ‘The Dissolution of the Board of Stamps, with Strictures on the Conduct of Sir John Easthope as proprietor of the “Morning Chronicle.”’ The ‘Morning Chronicle’ had ceased to print his complaints. He was a director of the County Fire Office. He died, from the effects of a fall, on 26 Jan. 1851 at his house, 3 Church Street, Kensington. He was married and left one daughter.

Besides the works already mentioned, Sedgwick wrote: 1. ‘An Abridgment of the Modern Determinations in the Courts of Law and Equity,’ being a supplement to C. Viner's ‘Abridgment,’ 1799. 2. ‘Remarks on the Commentaries of Sir W. Blackstone,’ 1800; 2nd edit. 1804. Under the signature of ‘A Barrister’ he published: 3. ‘Hints to the Public on the Nature of Evangelical Preaching,’ 1808; 2nd edit. 1812: this work was replied to by W. B. Collyer, 1809. 4. ‘A Letter to the Ratepayers of Great Britain on the Repeal of the Poor Laws,’ to which is subjoined the outline of a plan for the abolition of the poor rates at the end of three years, 1833. Sedgwick edited the sixth edition of Sir G. Gilbert's ‘Law of Evidence,’ 1801. He is said to have conducted the ‘Oxford Review’ January 1807 to March 1808—fifteen monthly numbers.

[Gent. Mag. April, 1851, pp. 436–7; Times, 30 Jan. 1851, p. 4; Biogr. Dict. of Living Authors, 1816, p. 310.]

G. C. B.