Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Duval, Lewis

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DUVAL, LEWIS (1774–1844), the eminent conveyancer, born at Geneva on 11 Nov. 1774, was the second son of John Duval of Warnford Court, Throgmorton Street, London, a well-known diamond merchant of Genevese origin, by his wife Elizabeth Beaufel de Vismes of the Nowell, York. He was educated at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, where he took the degree of LL.B. in 1796, and was soon afterwards elected a fellow of his college. Duval was admitted a student of Lincoln's Inn on 18 June 1793, and on leaving Cambridge became a pupil of Charles Butler (1750–1832) [q. v.], in whose chambers he remained for rather more than two years. He then commenced practice as a conveyancer, and in the early years of his professional career was much employed by Butler, who entertained the highest opinion of the talents of his old pupil. Duval was afterwards called to the bar in Trinity term 1804. Unlike many eminent conveyancers, he owed his rise in the profession entirely to his skill as a chamber practitioner. He never published any legal work, and the hesitation in his speech, to which he was subject, prevented him from practising in court with any chance of success. Upon the retirement of Butler, Preston, and Sanders, Duval became the acknowledged head of his particular branch of learning. Though not an original member of the real property commission, he was subsequently appointed a commissioner, and wrote the greater portion of the second report, which related entirely to the establishment of a general registry of deeds (Parl. Papers, 1830, xi. 1–81). As a draughtsman Duval to a great extent followed Butler's forms; and being ‘endowed with a nice appreciation of language, and a clear understanding of the objects of legal instruments, he did much to improve their perspicuity and precision’ (Davidson, Precedents and Forms in Conveyancing, 1874, i. 8). Among his more distinguished pupils were Sugden, Christie, Bellenden Ker, Tierney, Loftus Wigram, Joshua Williams, and Charles Hall, who married Duval's niece, and afterwards became a vice-chancellor.

Duval died at St. Petersburg House, Bayswater Hill, on 11 Aug. 1844, in his seventieth year, and was buried at St. George's Chapel in the Bayswater Road. His portrait by Sir George Hayter and a bust by Sievier are in the possession of his nephew, Mr. Lewis Duval.

[Law Review and Quarterly Journal of British and Foreign Jurisprudence, i. 139–44; Gent. Mag. 1844, new ser. xxii. 328; Grad. Cantabr. (1823), p. 149; Lincoln's Inn Registers; private information.]

G. F. R. B.