1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Blackburn, Colin Blackburn

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17359861911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 4 — Blackburn, Colin Blackburn

BLACKBURN, COLIN BLACKBURN, Baron (1813–1896), British judge, was born in Selkirkshire in 1813, and educated at Eton and at Trinity College, Cambridge, taking high mathematical honours in 1835. He was called to the bar in 1838, and went the northern circuit. His progress was at first slow, and he employed himself in reporting and editing, with T. F. Ellis, eight volumes of the highly-esteemed Ellis and Blackburn reports. His deficiency in all the more brilliant qualities of the advocate almost confined his practice to commercial cases, in which he obtained considerable employment in his circuit; but he continued to belong to the outside bar, and was so little known to the legal world that his promotion to a puisne judgeship in the court of queen’s bench in 1859 was at first ascribed to Lord Campbell’s partiality for his countrymen, but Lord Lyndhurst, Lord Wensleydale and Lord Cranworth came forward to defend the appointment. Blackburn himself is said to have thought that a county court judgeship was about to be offered him, which he had resolved to decline. He soon proved himself one of the soundest lawyers on the bench, and when he was promoted to the court of appeal in 1876 was considered the highest authority on common law. In 1876 he was made a lord of appeal and a life peer. Both in this capacity and as judge of the queen’s bench he delivered many judgments of the highest importance, and no decisions have been received with greater respect. In 1886 he was appointed a member of the commission charged to prepare a digest of the criminal law, but retired on account of indisposition in the following year. He died at his country residence, Doonholm in Ayrshire, on the 8th of January 1896. He was the author of a valuable work on the Law of Sales.

See The Times, 10th of January 1896; E. Manson, Builders of our Law (1904).