Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Crompton, Charles John

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CROMPTON, Sir CHARLES JOHN (1797–1865), justice of the queen's bench, born at Derby on 12 June 1797, was the third son of Dr. Peter Crompton, whose father was a banker there. The Cromptons came of a Yorkshire puritan stock, connected with the Cheshire family of the regicide Bradshaw. Dr. Peter Crompton succeeded to an elder brother's inheritance, and at an early age married his second cousin Mary, daughter of John Crompton of Chorley Hall, Lancashire, a lady much admired by the poet Coleridge and often mentioned in his correspondence. Shortly after his third son's birth, Dr. Crompton removed from Derby to Eton House, near Liverpool, and there passed the rest of his days as a country gentleman, physicking the poor gratis and being noted for advanced liberal opinions at a time when it was not very safe to hold them. His son Charles (who never used his second name, John), having graduated with distinction at Trinity College, Dublin, was entered at the Inner Temple in 1817, after a short time spent in a Liverpool solicitor's office. He learned the art of special pleading (in which he became later a great adept) from Littledale and Patteson, and, being called to the bar in 1821, went the northern circuit. Practice came to him, if not very quickly, on the whole steadily, and he acquired in time the reputation of a learned and thoroughly sound lawyer, becoming an authority especially in mercantile cases and in questions arising out of the Municipal Corporation Reform Act. He became tubman and then postman in the exchequer, counsel for the board of stamps and taxes, reporter of exchequer decisions from 1830 to 1836 (first with Jervis, afterwards with Meeson and Roscoe), assessor of the court of passage in Liverpool from 1836, a member of the commission of inquiry into the court of chancery in 1851, and then, without having taken silk, was raised to the bench in February 1852 by Lord Truro, and knighted. A strong liberal in politics, like his father, he stood for parliament at Preston in 1832, and Newport (Isle of Wight) in 1847, but in both cases unsuccessfully. He proved an excellent judge, especially in banco, and was the author of many decisions still quoted. When he died, on 30 Oct. 1865, he was followed to his resting-place in Willesden churchyard with unusual marks of respect and affection from his professional brethren. He had a character as open and winning as it was upright and high-principled, with a lively humour that in youth was apt to brim over and later was sometimes rather caustic but which grew mellow with age. Through life he was an omnivorous reader, and amid the greatest press of work he always found time for the pursuits and interests of a highly cultivated mind. He married Caroline, fourth daughter of Thomas Fletcher, a Liverpool merchant, in 1832, and left four sons and three daughters.

[Foss's Lives of the Judges; Law Magazine, vol. xxiii. No. 45, art. 1, by Sir L. Peel; information from the family.]

G. C. R.