Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Holroyd, George Sowley

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HOLROYD, Sir GEORGE SOWLEY (1758–1831), judge, of a Yorkshire family, eldest son of George Holroyd, by Eleanor, daughter of Henry Sowley of Appleby, Westmoreland, was born at York on 31 Oct. 1758. He was placed at Harrow under Dr. Sumner in 1770, but owing to his father's heavy pecuniary losses was unable to proceed to a university. In April 1774 he was articled to a London attorney named Borthwick, and then, deciding to go to the bar, he entered in 1777 at Gray's Inn, read in the chambers of Sir Alan Chambre [q. v.], and in April 1779 began practice as a special pleader. He was at this time the associate of Romilly, Christian, and Baynes, and joined them in founding a legal debating society. He was called to the bar 26 June 1787, and joining the northern circuit obtained a good practice both at assizes and at Westminster. Declining to take silk, he continued to practise with great success as a junior. In 1811 he highly distinguished himself in the case of Burdett v. Abbott, speaker of the House of Commons, in which he appeared for the plaintiff (reported East, Reports, xiv. 1). In 1815 he was sent as commissioner to Guernsey to inquire into certain grievances there complained of. On 14 Feb. 1816 he succeeded Sir Henry Dampier as a judge of the king's bench, and obtained a high judicial reputation in that court for learning and courtesy (Campbell, Chief Justices, iii. 155); but on 17 Nov. 1828 ill-health compelled him to retire, and he died at his house at Hare Hatch, Berkshire, 21 Nov. 1831. There is a monument to him in Wargrave Church, with an inscription by Lord Brougham. In 1787 he married Sarah, daughter of Amos Chaplin of Brydges Street, Covent Garden; of his fourteen children by her, six survived him.

[Foss's Lives of the Judges; Gent. Mag. 1831.]

J. A. H.