Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Weston, Richard (1620-1681)

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WESTON, RICHARD (1620–1681), judge, son of Edward Weston of Hackney, and born in 1620. He matriculated at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, in 1639, but left without taking a degree. He was admitted a student of Gray's Inn on 10 Aug. 1642, and was called to the bar in 1649. He was made reader of Gray's Inn in Lent 1676, serjeant-at-law on 23 Oct. 1677, king's serjeant on 5 Feb. 1678 (whereupon he was knighted), and puisne baron of the exchequer on 7 Feb. 1680.

As early as 1662 his arguments in court had attracted attention and were noticed by Sir T. Raymond in his ‘Reports of Cases.’ He was judge in several important trials between 1678 and 1680. In the midsummer assizes at Kingston in 1680 he boldly checked Jeffreys, who, as counsel, was browbeating the other side in their examination of witnesses, and thereby made an implacable enemy for himself. He had the courage in 1680 to grant a habeas corpus to Sheridan, whom the House of Commons had committed, when some of the judges held back from so doing.

In December 1680 the commons voted an impeachment against him founded upon certain expressions used by him in his charge to the jury at Kingston. While inveighing against Calvin and Zwinglius he had said of those theologians: ‘Now they were amusing us with fears, and nothing would serve them but a parliament .... for my part I know no representative of the nation but the king.’ The crime with which he was charged was that his words were ‘scandalous to the reformation, and tending to raise discord.’ The dissolution of parliament delayed the bringing in of the impeachment, and the death of Weston took place before the succeeding parliament proceeded to the business. He died in Chancery Lane on 23 March 1681, and was buried on the 26th at Hackney. He married Frances, second daughter of Sir George Marwood of Little Buskby, but probably had no children. His widow, whose name does not appear in the will, was his sole executrix.

[Foss's Judges of England; North's Examen, pp. 566–7; Foster's Gray's Inn Register of Admissions; Hist. MSS. Comm. 7th Rep. p. 479, 11th Rep. ii. 43, 157–8, 204, 213; Woolrych's Jeffreys, pp. 64–6; Cobbett's State Trials, vol. viii. cols. 191–2; Dugdale's Visitation of Yorkshire (Surtees Soc.) p. 160; Burnet's Hist. of his Own Time, 1823, ii. 251; Lysons's Environs ii. 499; P.C.C. 18, North.]

B. P.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.278
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

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369 ii 36 Weston, Richard (1620-1681): for Bushby read Buskby