Smith, Josiah William (DNB00)

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SMITH, JOSIAH WILLIAM (1816–1887), legal writer, only child of the Rev. John Smith, rector of Baldock, Hertfordshire, was born on 3 April 1816, and graduated LL.B. from Trinity Hall, Cambridge, 1841 (Luard, Graduati Cantabrigienses). He entered himself a student of Lincoln's Inn on 9 Nov. 1836, where he was called to the bar on 6 May 1841, and chiefly practised in the court of chancery. He was the draughtsman of the ‘Consolidated General Orders of the High Court of Chancery’ (1860), and also edited Fearne's ‘Contingent Remainders’ and Mitford's ‘Chancery Pleadings.’ But he is best remembered as the author of the ‘Manual of Equity’ (1845), ‘Compendium of the Law of Real and Personal Property’ (1855), and ‘Manual of Common Law and Bankruptcy’ (1864). These works, clearly and concisely written, went through many editions, and are standard works. In addition he compiled several small manuals of devotion and a ‘Summary of the Law of Christ’ (1859 and 1860). Having attained the rank of queen's counsel on 25 Feb. 1861, Smith was chosen a bencher of Lincoln's Inn on 13 March following, and in September 1865 became county-court judge for Herefordshire and Shropshire (circuit No. 27). He was a judge of very strong individuality, resented being overruled by a superior court, and on one occasion, shortly before his retirement, declared his reason for not giving leave to appeal to be that if he was overruled the court would be deciding contrary to law and justice. This drew down upon him a rebuke from the court of queen's bench, Justice Mellor pronouncing him ‘an extraordinary specimen of a county-court judge.’ Credit was, however, given him for good intentions. Smith, who was a J.P. for Herefordshire, retired from the bench on a pension in February 1879. He died at Clifton on 10 April 1887, and was buried at Baldock. He married in 1844 Mary, second daughter of George Henry Hicks, M.D., of Baldock.

[Foster's Men at the Bar; Debrett's Judicial Bench; Law Journal.]

W. R. W.