Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Pearson, Charles John

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PEARSON, Sir CHARLES JOHN, Lord Pearson (1843–1910), Scottish judge, born at Edinburgh on 6 Nov. 1843, was second son of Charles Pearson, chartered accountant, of Edinburgh, by his wife Margaret, daughter of John Dalziel, solicitor, of Earlston, Berwickshire. After attending Edinburgh Academy, he proceeded to the University of St. Andrews, and thence to Corpus Christi College, Oxford, where he distinguished himself in classics, winning the Gaisford Greek prizes for prose (1862) and verse (1863). He graduated B.A. with a first class in the final classical school in 1865. He afterwards attended law lectures in Edinburgh, and became a member of the Juridical Society, of which he was librarian in 1872–3, and of the Speculative Society (president 1869–71). He was called to the English bar (from the Inner Temple) on 10 June 1870, and on 19 July 1870 passed to the Scottish bar, where he rapidly obtained a large practice. Though not one of the crown counsel for Scotland, he was specially retained for the prosecution at the trial of the City of Glasgow Bank directors (Jan. 1879), became sheriff of chancery in 1885, and procurator and cashier for the Church of Scotland in 1886. In 1887 he was knighted, and was appointed sheriff of Renfrew and Bute in 1888, and of Perthshire in 1889. Pearson was a conservative, though not a keen politician, and in 1890 was appointed solicitor-general for Scotland in Lord Salisbury's second administration, and was elected (unopposed) as M.P. for Edinburgh and St. Andrews Universities. In the same year he became Q.C. In 1891 he succeeded James Patrick Bannerman Robertson, Lord Robertson [q. v. Suppl. II], as lord advocate, and was sworn of the privy council. At the general election of 1892 he was again returned unopposed for Edinburgh and St. Andrews Universities. After the fall of Lord Salisbury's ministry in 1892 he ceased to be lord advocate, and was chosen dean of the Faculty of Advocates. He received the honorary degree of LL.D. from Edinburgh University in 1894, and on the return of the conservatives to power in the following year became again lord advocate, and resigned the deanship. In 1896, on the resignation of Andrew Rutherfurd Clark, Lord Rutherfurd Clark, he was raised to the bench, from which he retired, owing to bad health, in 1909. He died at Edinburgh on 15 Aug. 1910, and was buried in the Dean cemetery there.

Pearson married on 23 July 1873 Elizabeth, daughter of M. Grayhurst Hewat of St. Cuthbert's, Norwood, by whom he had three sons. A painting, by J. Irvine, belongs to his widow.

[Scotsman, and The Times, 16 Aug. 1910; Roll of the Faculty of Advocates; Hist. of the Speculative Soc., p. 156; Records of the Juridical Soc.; Acts of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, 1886; Foster, Men at the Bar.]

G. W. T. O.