Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bosanquet, John Bernard

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BOSANQUET, Sir JOHN BERNARD (1773–1814), judge, was the youngest son of Samuel Bosanquet of Forest House, Waltham Forest, and Dingestow Court, Monmouthshire, governor of the Bank of England 1792, by his wife Eleanor, daughter of Henry Lannoy Hunter of Beechill, Berkshire. He was born at Forest House on 2 May 1773, and educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford, where he took the degree of B.A. 9 June 1796, and of M.A. 20 March 1800. He was admitted a student of Lincoln's Inn 22 Jan. 1794, and on being called to the bar, 9 May 1800, joined the home circuit. He also attended the Essex sessions, of which his father was chairman. Previously to his call he had, in conjmiction with Mr. (afterwards Sir) Christopher Puller, commenced the 'Reports of Cases argued and determined in the Court of Common Pleas and Exchequer Chamber, and in the House of Lords.' Of these reports there are two series, the first in three volumes from 1790 to 1804, and the second in two volumes from 1804 to 1807. Owing to family influence his career at the bar was soon a successful one, and he was appointed standing counsel both to the East India Company and to the Bank of England. On 22 Nov. 1814 he was made a serjeant-at-law, and from that time came prominently before the public in the numerous bank prosecutions which he conducted with great discretion for thirteen years. In 1824 he declined the appointment of chief justice of Bengal, and in Easter term 1827 was made king's serjeant. On 16 May 1828 he was nominated one of the commissioners appointed to inquire into the practice of the common law courts. Over this commission he presided for three years. Upon the retirement of Sir James Burrough he was made a judge of the court of common pleas 1 Feb. 1830 and was knighted on the following day. On 4 Sept. 1833 he was sworn a member of the privy council, and thenceforth, until 1840, constantly formed one of the judicial committee of that body. Upon the resignation of Lord-chancellor Lyndhurst, Bosanquet in conjunction with Sir Charles Pepys, the master of the rolls, and Sir Lancelot Shadwell, the vice-chancellor, was appointed a lord commissioner of the great seal. This commission lasted from 23 April 1835 to 16 Jan. 1836, when Pepys was made lord chancellor. After eleven years of judicial work he was compelled by his state of health to retire from the bench shortly before the beginning of Hilary term 1842. He died at the Firs, Hampstead Heath, on 25 Sept. 1847, aged 74, and was buried at Llantillio-Crossenny, Monmouthshire. A monument is erected to his memory in his parish church of Dingestow, and his portrait hangs in the hall of Eton College. He was a man of considerable learning, with a great taste for scientific inquiries. It is stated in Foss that he published anonymously a 'Letter of a Layman,' in which he showed the connection between the prophecies of Daniel and the Apocalypse. As a judge he was remarkable for his ability and impartiality. He married in 1804 Mary Anne, the eldest daughter of Richard Lewis of Llantillio-Crossenny, by whom he had an only son, who predeceased him.

[Foss (1864), ix. 149–61; Law Times, x. 122; Gent. Mag. 1847, new ser. xxviii. 537–8, 661; Notes and Queries, 6th ser. x. 147; Annual Register, 1847, App. p. 263.]

G. F. R. B.