Men of the Time, eleventh edition/Cairns (Earl), Hugh MacCalmont
CAIRNS (Earl), The Right Hon. Hugh MacCalmont, second son of the late William Cairns, Esq., of Cultra, county Down, Ireland, was born in 1819. He received his education at Trinity College, Dublin, where he was first class in classics, and obtained other academical honours. In Jan., 1844, he was called to the English bar at the Middle Temple, and he soon acquired an extensive practice in the courts of Equity. In July, 1852, he was returned to the House of Commons as one of the members for Belfast, and he continued to represent that city in the Conservative interest until his elevation to the judicial bench. He was appointed one of Her Majesty's Counsel and a bencher of Lincoln's Inn in 1856. When Lord Derby formed his administration in Feb., 1858, he appointed to the office of Solicitor-General Mr. Cairns, who on this occasion received the honour of knighthood. It is worthy of note that the earliest Bill he submitted to Parliament related to Chancery Reform, on which subject he has since proposed several important measures. Sir Hugh Cairns first showed himself to be a great parliamentary orator in the celebrated debate of four nights' duration in May, 1858, concerning Lord Ellenborough's censure of Lord Canning's proclamation to the inhabitants of our Indian Empire. Many of his subsequent speeches in the House of Commons, and more recently in the House of Peers, have justly been regarded as masterpieces of eloquence. When the Conservative administration resigned in June, 1859, Sir Hugh Cairns' first brief tenure of office came to an end. On the return of Lord Derby to power in June, 1866, he was appointed Attorney-General, and he worthily occupied for a few months the post which Sir Roundell Palmer (now Lord Selborne) had held under the Liberal administration. The first vacancy which had occurred in the Court of Chancery (with the exception of the woolsack) for the long period of fourteen years, was occasioned on Oct. 1, 1866, by the retirement of Sir James Knight Bruce, and Sir Hugh Cairns was appointed to succeed that veteran judge as Lord Justice of the Court of Appeal; being in the following Feb. (1867) raised to the peerage as Baron Cairns of Garmoyle, in the county of Antrim. He became Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain in Feb., 1868, and he continued to hold that office until the resignation of Mr. Disraeli's ministry in Dec., 1868, after which time, however, he continued to take an active part in the legislative and judicial business of the House of Lords. In Feb., 1874, on the return of the Conservative party to power, he was reappointed Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, and he held that office till April, 1880. In Sept., 1878, he was created a Viscount and Earl of the United Kingdom by the titles of Viscount Garmoyle, in the county of Antrim, and Earl Cairns. His lordship was made LL.D. of Cambridge in 1862; D.C.L. of Oxford in 1863; and was elected Chancellor of the University of Dublin in 1867.