Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Littler, Ralph Daniel Makinson

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LITTLER, Sir RALPH DANIEL MAKINSON (1835–1908), barrister, second son of Robert Littler, minister of the Lady Huntingdon Chapel at Matlock Bath, where he was born on 2 Oct. 1835. His father was cousin of Sir John Hunter Littler [q. v.], and his mother was Sarah, daughter of Daniel Makinson, cotton spinner and borough reeve of Bolton-le-Moors, Lancashire. He was educated at University College School and University College, London, where he graduated B.A. in 1854. Admitted to the Inner Temple on 14 Nov. 1854, he was called to the bar on 6 June 1857. He went the northern and afterwards the north-eastern circuit, but acquiring no large practice, he was appointed a revising barrister for Northumberland in 1868. In 1866 he contributed to a treatise by (Sir) John Henry Fawcett on ‘The Court of Referees in Parliament’ a chapter on engineering and a digest of the reports made by the referees. Turning his attention to the parliamentary bar, he obtained a position there. His interest in engineering proved useful as counsel for the railway companies, and he became an associate of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1877. He took silk in 1873. He was made a bencher of the Middle Temple (to which he had been admitted ad eundem on 28 April 1870) on 24 Nov. 1882, and was treasurer 1900–1. He was created C.B. in 1890 and was knighted in 1902. From 1889 till death Littler was chairman of the Middlesex sessions. While anxious to assist the young offender to reform, he gave long sentences even for small offences to the habitual criminal, and his judicial action was often adversely criticised in the press. At the time of his death he was taking proceedings for libel against two newspapers, ‘Reynolds's Newspaper’ and ‘Vanity Fair.’ He was also chairman of the Middlesex county council from 1889, and in recognition of his long service in the two capacities he was presented in July 1908 with a testimonial amounting to 1300l. (The Times, 8 July 1908). As a freemason he attained the rank of past deputy grand registrar and past provincial grand senior warden for Middlesex. He died on 23 Nov. 1908 at his residence, 89 Oakwood Court, Kensington, and was buried at Hampstead.

Two portraits commissioned by Littler's fellow justices—one painted by Sir Hubert von Herkomer and the other by Miss B. O. Offer—are in the Guildhall, Westminster.

In addition to various pamphlets and the book already mentioned Littler wrote (with Richard Thomas Tidswell) a volume on ‘Practice and Evidence in Cases of Divorce and other Matrimonial Causes’ (1860), and (with Mr. Arthur Hutton) ‘The Rights and Duties of Justices’ (1899).

[The Times, 24 Nov. 1908; Law Journal, 28 Nov. 1908; Foster, Men at the Bar; Brit. Mus. Cat.; private information.]

C. E. A. B.