Hall, Charles (1814-1883) (DNB00)

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HALL, Sir CHARLES (1814–1883), vice-chancellor, fourth son of John Hall of Manchester and Mary, daughter of John Dobson of Durham, was born on 14 April 1814. His father, having sustained heavy losses by a bank failure, did not give him a university education, but articled him to a solicitor in Manchester. In 1835 he entered the Middle Temple, and read for the bar successively with William Taprell, special pleader, James Russell of the chancery bar, and Lewis Duval the conveyancer [q. v.] At the expiration of his year as a pupil he became Duval's principal assistant, and by extraordinary industry contrived to earn from him 700l. or 800l. a year, though receiving the unusually low proportion of one-fourth of the fees received by Duval. In 1837 he married Sarah, daughter of Francis Duval of Exeter and Lewis Duval's niece. Eventually Hall succeeded to the bulk of Duval's practice, and through his wife to the bulk of his fortune, and resided till his death in Duval's house, 8 Bayswater Hill, once the residence of Peter the Great when in London. During the next twenty years he became the recognised leader of the junior chancery bar, and the first authority of his day upon real property law. Having been called to the bar in Michaelmas term 1838, he gradually obtained a large court practice. His pupil room was always crowded, and from it came the foremost of the succeeding generation of equity lawyers. His best known cases were the Bridgewater peerage case in the House of Lords in 1853, the Shrewsbury peerage case, and Allgood v. Blake in the exchequer chamber in 1872, of his argument in which the lord chief baron said that it was the most perfect he had ever listened to. He drew several bills for Lord Westbury, including his Registration of Titles Act, and assisted Lord Selborne in drafting the Judicature Act of 1873. Twice Lord Westbury offered him a silk gown; but being without a rival at the chancery bar, and earning 10,000l. a year, he refused it. In 1862 he became under-conveyancer and in 1864 conveyancer to the court of chancery, and in 1872 a bencher of his inn. He was raised to the bench in succession to Vice-chancellor Wickens in November 1873 and knighted. Here he distinguished himself by an industry which eventually impaired his constitution. While walking home from his court he was attacked by a stroke of paralysis in June 1882. He resigned his judgeship before the ensuing Michaelmas sittings, and died on 12 Dec. 1883. He was fond of art and letters, but never played any part in politics. He had four sons, two of whom survived him—the younger, Charles, is a queen's counsel and attorney-general to the Prince of Wales, and M.P. for the Western Division of Cambridgeshire and four daughters.

[Times, 13 Dec. 1883; Solicitors' Journal, 15 Dec. 1883; Law Mag. 4th ser. ix. 220; Law Journal, 15 Dec. 1883; private information.]

J. A. H.