Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Selwyn, Charles Jasper

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SELWYN, Sir CHARLES JASPER (1813–1869), lord justice, third and youngest son of William Selwyn (1775–1855) [q. v.], and brother of George Augustus Selwyn (1809–1878) [q. v.], bishop of Lichfield, and of William Selwyn (1806–1875) [q. v.], divine, was born at Church Row, Hampstead, Middlesex, on 13 Oct. 1813. He was educated at Ealing, at Eton, and at Trinity College, Cambridge, of which he was successively scholar and fellow. He graduated B.A. 1836, M.A. 1839, and LL.D. 1862. He was called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn on 27 Jan. 1840, practised chiefly before the master of the rolls, and amassed a large fortune. As a counsel he was not very brilliant, but he got up his cases with singular accuracy and was listened to with great attention by the court. He served as commissary to the university of Cambridge from 1855 to 1858, received a silk gown on 7 April 1856, and in the same year was made a bencher of his inn. He entered parliament as member for Cambridge University in April 1859, and sat for that constituency until 1868. He was a staunch conservative and a sound churchman, remarkable for polished elocution and firm but conciliatory tone. He first spoke in the house on the address to the queen on arming the volunteer corps (Hansard, 5 July 1859, p. 678), and on 13 Aug. 1859 made a powerful speech on a question of privilege connected with the Pontefract election inquiry (ib. pp. 1409–11). In the same month he moved a resolution whereby the committee on the Stamp Duties Bill was enabled to introduce a clause extending probate duty to property exceeding one million in value (ib. 4 Aug. p. 991), and a few months later secured the rejection of Mr. L. L. Dillwyn's Endowed Schools Bill (ib. 21 March 1860, pp. 979–83). His best speech was on the motion for the second reading of the Ecclesiastical Commission Bill (ib. 6 June 1860, pp. 2087–103). He spoke for a long time with great earnestness against the bill, and moved an amendment to it. The bill was subsequently withdrawn after a three nights' debate. On 20 Feb. 1861 he divided the house successfully by an amendment to the Trustees of Charities Bill (ib. pp. 675–83). One of his last speeches was on the Reform Bill of 1867, when he advocated that the lodger franchise should be extended to university lodgers in the town of Cambridge (ib. 24 June 1867, p. 484).

Selwyn became solicitor-general in Lord Derby's administration on 18 July 1867, and was knighted on 3 Aug. Disraeli appointed him a lord-justice of appeal on 8 Feb. 1868, and he was named a privy councillor on 28 March. As a judge, Selwyn proved himself considerate and patient. He died at Pagoda House, Richmond, Surrey, on 11 Aug. 1869, and was buried in Nunhead cemetery. He married, first, in 1856, Hester, fifth daughter of J. G. Ravenshaw, chairman of the East India Company, and widow of Thomas Dowler, M.D. He married, secondly, on 2 April 1869, Catherine Rosalie, daughter of Colonel Godfrey T. Greene and widow of the Rev. Henry Dupuis, vicar of Richmond. His issue were a son and two daughters. Selwyn, in conjunction with L. F. Selwyn, wrote in 1847 ‘Annals of the Diocese of New Zealand.’

[Foss's Biographia Juridica, 1870, p. 607; Law Times, 1869, xlvii. 376; Pen-and-Ink Sketches in Chancery, 1867, No. 2, pp. 10–12; Eton Portrait Gallery, 1876, pp. 447–8; Men of the Time, 1868, p. 725; Illustrated London News, 1867, li. 200 (with portrait); Register and Mag. of Biography, 1869, ii. 145.]

G. C. B.