Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Woolrych, Humphry William

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WOOLRYCH, HUMPHREY WILLIAM (1795–1871), biographer and legal writer, was the representative of an ancient Shropshire family [see Wolrich, Sir Thomas]. His father, Humphry Cornewall Woolrych, purchased in 1794 and 1799 an estate at Croxley in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, and died there on 25 March 1816. He married on 12 Sept. 1793, at the church of St. George the Martyr, Queen Square, London, Elizabeth, elder daughter and coheiress of William Bentley of Red Lion Square, London.

Their son, Humphry William, was born at Southgate, Middlesex, on 24 Sept. 1795. At the election of 1811 Woolrych was in the fifth form, upper division, at Eton (Stapylton, Eton Lists, p. 67), and he matriculated from St. Edmund Hall, Oxford, on 14 Dec. 1816, but did not proceed to a degree. He was admitted student at Lincoln's Inn on 24 Nov. 1819, and called to the bar in 1821. In 1830 he was called ad eundem at the Inner Temple; he was admitted at Gray's Inn on 13 July 1847, and in 1855 he was created serjeant-at-law. His love of the order of the coif prompted the publication of ‘Remarks on the Rank of Queen's Serjeant,’ 1866; ‘The Bar of England and the Serjeant-at-law,’ 1867; and ‘Lives of Eminent Serjeants-at-law,’ 1869, in two volumes; and he laboured zealously, but in vain, for the maintenance of the body. Woolrych dwelt at Croxley and at 9 Petersham Terrace, Kensington. He died at Kensington on 2 July 1871, and was buried in Rickmansworth cemetery. He married, on 3 July 1817, at Abbot's Langley, Hertfordshire, Penelope, youngest daughter of Francis Bradford of Great Westwood, Hertfordshire. She died at 9 Petersham Terrace on 23 Sept. 1876, aged 76, and was also buried at Rickmansworth. They had issue three sons and four daughters. His third daughter, Anna Maria Raikes Woolrych, married, on 2 July 1862, John James Stewart Perowne, at one time bishop of Worcester.

Besides the works mentioned above, Woolrych wrote: 1. ‘Winter: a Poem,’ 1824, which was inspired by Thomson's ‘Seasons.’ 2. ‘A Series of Lord Chancellors, Keepers, and other Legal Officers from Queen Elizabeth until the Present Day,’ 1826. 3. ‘The Life of Sir Edward Coke,’ 1826; and 4. ‘Memoirs of the Life of Judge Jeffreys,’ 1827. The permanent value of his biographical volumes is small.

His legal textbooks and tracts comprise: 5. ‘Rights of Common,’ 1824; 2nd edit. 1850. 6. ‘Law of Certificates,’ 1826. 7. ‘Law of Ways,’ 1829; 2nd edit. 1847. 8. ‘Commercial and Mercantile Law of England,’ 1829. 9. ‘Law of Waters and Sewers,’ 1830; 2nd edit. 1851. 10. ‘History and Results of Present Capital Punishments in England,’ 1832. 11. ‘Our Island: a Novel’ [anon.], 1832, 3 vols. 12. ‘Four Letters on Bill for General Registry of Deeds,’ 1833. 13. ‘Law of Window Lights,’ 1833. 14. ‘New Highways Act,’ 2nd edit. 1836. 15. ‘Treatise on Criminal Statutes of 7 Will. IV & 1 Vict. 1837.’ 16. ‘New Inclosure Act,’ 1837; with notes and indexes, 1846. 17. ‘Treatise on Misdemeanours,’ 1842. 18. ‘Law of Party Walls and Fences, including the New Metropolitan Buildings Act,’ 1845. 19. ‘Treatise on Sewers and Drainage Acts;’ 2nd edit. 1849; 3rd edit. 1864. 20. ‘Public Health Act,’ 1849. 21. ‘Legal Time, its Computations and Reckonings,’ 1851. 22. ‘Metropolitan Building Act,’ 1856; 2nd edit. 1877; 3rd edit. 1882. 23. ‘Game Laws,’ 1858. 24. ‘Criminal Law as amended by Statutes of 1861,’ 1862. 25. ‘Private Executions,’ 1867. He published in 1842 a ‘second edition, revised with additions,’ of Charles Penruddocke's ‘Short Analysis of the Criminal Law of England,’ was a frequent contributor to the ‘Globe and Traveller,’ and read many papers before the Law Amendment Society.

[Gent. Mag. 1793 ii. 861, 1816 i. 376; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1715–1886; Robinson's Herefordshire Mansions, p. 100; Cussans's Hertfordshire (Rickmansworth), pp. 131–2, 153, 160; Shirley's Noble Men of England, 1866 ed., p. 99; Lincoln's Inn Reg. ii. 59; Burke's Landed Gentry, 1894; information from Mr. W. R. Woolrych of Croxley House, Hertfordshire, and Mrs. Perowne.]

W. P. C.