Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Merewether, Henry Alworth

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MEREWETHER, HENRY ALWORTH (1780–1864), serjeant-at-law, born in 1780, was eldest son of Henry Merewether of Calne, Wiltshire. A younger brother, Francis (1784–1864), was well known as the rector of Coleorton, a living to which he was presented by his friend Sir George Beaumont in 1816 (cf. Gent. Mag 1864, pt. ii. pp. 387–9). Henry was educated at Reading school under Dr. Valpy, was called to the bar 5 May 1809, was created serjeant-at-law 25 June 1827, and became king's counsel with patent of precedence in Hilary term 1853. He practised on the western circuit with much success. Merewether was appointed recorder of Reading, and was attorney-general to Adelaide, queen-dowager. He received the degree of D.C.L. from the university of Oxford on 12 June 1839.

He was elected town-clerk of London on 23 June 1842, by a majority of twenty-six votes, in competition with William Pritchard, then high bailiff of Southwark. By accepting this appointment he relinquished an income of over 5,000l. at the bar. It is said by those among the corporation who knew him that the office of town-clerk had never been filled with such dignity as in his time. He appeared on behalf of the corporation in the court of chancery and elsewhere on several occasions, and defended their interests with great learning and ability. He resigned the office of town-clerk on 10 Feb. 1859, and died at his family seat, Castlefield, near Calne, Wiltshire, on 22 July 1864, in his eighty-fourth year.

Merewether was twice married, and left several children. His eldest son, Henry Alworth (1812–1877), was recorder of Devizes and a bencher of the Inner Temple. His youngest son, Sir William Lockyer Merewether, is separately noticed.

The serjeant's principal work is ‘The History of the Boroughs and Municipal Corporations of the United Kingdom,’ written in conjunction with Archibald John Stephens, and published in three octavo volumes in 1835. He also wrote: 1. ‘A New System of Police,’ 8vo, London, 1816. 2. ‘A Sketch of the History of Boroughs, and of the Corporate Right of Election,’ 8vo, London, 1822. 3. ‘Report of the Case of the Borough of West Looe,’ 8vo, London, 1823. 4. ‘An Address to the King, the Lords, and Commons on the Representative Constitution of England,’ 8vo, London, 1830. 5. ‘The Speech … at the Bar of the House of Commons against the Bill intituled An Act to make Temporary Provision for the Government of Jamaica,’ 8vo, London, 1839. 6. ‘The Speech … upon the Claim of the Commissioners of Woods and Forests to the Seashore, &c.,’ 8vo, London, Dublin, 1850.

[Gent. Mag. 1864, pt. ii. pp. 393–4; City Press, 30 July 1864, p. 4; Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Burke's Landed Gentry, 5th edit., 1871; Haydn's Book of Dignities, 1890, pp. 413, 417; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

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