Mellor, John (DNB00)

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MELLOR, Sir JOHN (1809–1887), judge, son of John Mellor, a member of an old South Lancashire family, and partner in the firm of Gee, Mellor, Kershaw & Co., who resided at Leicester, and was mayor of the borough and a justice of the peace there, was born at Hollinwood House, Oldham, 1 Jan. 1809. He was educated at the Leicester grammar school, and afterwards under Charles Berry, a unitarian minister of Leicester. Being unwilling to subscribe the Thirty-nine Articles, he abandoned his original intention of entering at Lincoln College, Oxford, and after reading for a time in the office of a Leicester attorney, he entered as a student at the Inner Temple in 1828, read in the chambers of Thomas Chitty for four years, attended John Austin's lectures at University College, and was called to the bar 7 June 1833. He joined the midland circuit, and practised at Leicester borough and Warwick sessions, at assizes, and at the parliamentary bar. After becoming a queen's counsel in 1851 he became leader of the circuit, and also had a fair London practice. From 1849 to 1852 he was recorder of Warwick, and from 1855 to 1861 recorder of Leicester. He stood as a liberal unsuccessfully for Warwick in 1852, and for Coventry in 1857, but late in 1857 he was elected for Great Yarmouth, and at the general election of 1859 was returned for Nottingham. He spoke little in parliament. On 3 Dec. 1861 he succeeded Mr. Justice Hill in the queen's bench and was knighted. He was a member of the special commission which tried the Fenian prisoners at Manchester in 1867 and of the court which tried Arthur Orton, alias Castro, for perjury in the Tichborne case in 1873. In June 1879 being troubled with increasing deafness, he retired on a pension and was sworn of the privy council. Thereafter he often attended the judicial committee, went the northern circuit once as commissioner of assize, and frequently acted as an arbitrator in important cases. He died at his house, 16 Sussex Square, Bayswater, on 26 April 1887, and was buried at Dover, where he had lived in his later years, on 30 April. He married in 1833 Elizabeth Cooke, only daughter of William Moseley of Peckham, Surrey, by whom he had eight sons, John William, a queen's counsel, a member of the privy council, judge advocate-general from 1880 to 1885, and chairman of committees in the House of Commons in 1893; James Robert, master of the crown office; and six others. He published two lectures on the ‘Christian Church before the Reformation,’ 1857, and ‘The Life and Times of John Selden,’ and a pamphlet advocating the abolition of oaths in courts of law or in parliament in 1882.

[Foss's Judges of England; Law Times, 7 May 1887; Times, 25 April 1887; Solicitors' Journal, 30 April 1887.]

J. A. H.