Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Brown, Joseph

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BROWN, JOSEPH (1809–1902), barrister, born at Walworth on 4 April 1809, was second son of Joseph Brown, wine merchant, of the Cumberland family of Scales near Kirk Oswald. Educated by his uncle, the Rev. John Whitridge of Carlisle, at Camberwell grammar school, and at a private school at Wimbledon, he entered at eighteen the office of Armstrong & Co., a London firm of West India merchants, but after two years commenced to study law with Peter Turner, a solicitor in the City of London. Meanwhile he matriculated at Queens' College, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. in 1830 and M.A. 1833. He was admitted to the Middle Temple on 12 Jan. 1832, and under Sir William Henry Watson [q. v.] and Sir John Bayley [q. v.] he learnt the art of special pleading, becoming a pleader under the bar in 1834. Called to the bar on 7 Nov. 1845, he soon acquired a large commercial practice and was engaged in several important actions, including the trial of the Royal British Bank directors before Lord Campbell in 1858. In 1865 he took silk and was made a bencher of the Middle Temple, of which he was treasurer 1878–9. Brown played a prominent part in the steps taken to supersede the old law reports, which were entirely due to private initiative. He was largely responsible for the preparation and publication in 1865 of the 'Law Reports,' which began the new departure. He was chosen to represent the Middle Temple on the Council of Law Reporting in 1872, and from 1875 to 1892 was chairman of the council. Created C.B. upon his retirement, he largely contributed by his energy and practical ability to the success of the council's publications. He died at his residence, 54 Avenue Road, N.W., on 9 June 1902. Brown was a fellow of the Geological Society and a skilled numismatist and antiquary. He contributed to the 'Proceedings' of the Social Science Congress, and wrote several pamphlets, including two urging reform of the system of trial by jury. He married in 1840 Mary (d. 1891), daughter of Thomas Smith of Winchcomb, Gloucestershire, by whom he had three sons and two daughters.

[The Times, 10 June 1902; Law Journal, 14 June 1902; Who's Who, 1901.]

C. E. A. B.