Chambré, Alan (DNB00)

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CHAMBRÉ, Sir ALAN (1739–1823), judge, descended from a family which had 'settled in Westmoreland in the reign of 'Henry III, and had acquired Halhead Hall' in the reign of Henry VIII (Nicholson and Brown, Westmoreland and Cumberland, 1777, i. 84–5), was the eldest son of Walter Chambré, of Halhead Hall, Kendal, barrister, by his wife, Mary, daughter of Jacob Morland, of Capplethwaite Hall, in the same county. He was born at Kendal on 4 Oct. 1739. After receiving an early education at the free grammar school of the town he was sent to Sedbergh school, then under the care of Dr. Bateman. From Sedbergh he came up to London, where first of all he went into the office of Mr. Forth Wintour, solicitor, in Pall Mall. He also became a member of the Society of Staple Inn, and paid the customary dozen of claret on admission. His arms are still to be seen emblazoned on one of the windows of the hall. He removed from this inn to the Middle Temple in February 1758, and in November 1764 from the Middle Temple to Gray's Inn. In May 1767 he was called to the bar, and went the northern circuit, of which he soon became one of the leaders. He was elected to the bench of Gray's Inn June 1781, and in 1783 filled the annual office of treasurer. In 1796 he was appointed recorder of Lancaster. On the retirement of Baron Perryn from the judicial bench he was chosen as his successor. In order to qualify for the bench, it was necessary that Chambré should be made a serjeant. As Sir Richard Perryn had retired in the vacation just before the summer circuit, and Serjeants could only be called in term, a special act of parliament (39 Geo. III, c. 67) was passed authorising for the first time the appointment of a serjeant in the vacation. Under the provisions of this act Chambré received the degree of serjeant on 2 July 1799, and on the same day was appointed a baron of the exchequer. Lord chief-justice Eyre dying five days after the special act had received the royal assent, the same difficulty again occurred, and a general act (39 Geo. III, c. 113) was thereupon passed in the some session authorising the appointment of any barrister to the degree of serjeant during the vacation if done for the purpose of filling up a vacancy on the bench. Lord Eldon was the first judge appointed under the provisions of this act. On 13 June in the following year Chambré was transferred to the court of common pleas, as successor to Sir Francis Buller. In this court he remained until December 1815, when he resigned his seat, and having sat on the bench rather more than fifteen years became entitled to a pension of 2,000l. a year by virtue of an act passed in the same year in which he had been appointed a judge (39 Geo. III, c. 110). He died at the Crown Inn, Harrogate, on 20 Sept. 1823, in his 84th year, and was buried in the family vault in Kendal parish church, where a monument was erected to his memory. He was never married, and was succeeded in his estates by his nephew, Thomas Chambré. Chambré had a high reputation at the bar both for his legal knowledge and for the justice of his decisions. He is described by Lord Brougham in his sketxih of Lord Mansfield as being 'among the first ornaments of his profession as among the most honest and amiable of men' (Historical Sketches, 1839, i. 117). So extremely careful was he lest any of his actions should be misconstrued that, it is said, he once refused an invitation to a house where the judges usually dined when on circuit, because the owner had been a defendant in one of the causes which had been tried at an assize at which he had lately presided. An excellent portrait of Chambré, by Sir William Allan, is in the possession of Mr. Alan Chambré, of South Norwood, the present head of the family. It has been engraved by Henry Meyer.

[Foss's Judges, viii (1864) 267–9; Cornelius Nicholson's Annals of Kendal, 1832, pp. 63, 255; Durnford and East's Term Reports, viii. (1817) 421, 587; Gent. Mag. vol. xciii. pt. ii. p. 469; Law and Lawyers (1840), ii. 129.]

G. F. R. B.