Page:Dictionary of National Biography. Sup. Vol II (1901).djvu/141

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
Denman
Denman
129

[Foster's Alumni Oxon. and Index Ecclesiasticus; Le Neve's Fasti Eccl. Angl.; Proceedings against the Archdeacon of Taunton. … Reprinted from the official documents and other authentic sources, Bath, 1857; Moore's Privy Council Cases, xi. 324; Phillimore's Ecclesiastical Law, i. 532; Chronicles of Convocation, 1858-93; Notes of my Life and Supplement thereto above cited; J. B. Mozley's Letters; Overton and Wordsworth's Life of Christopher Wordsworth, bishop of Lincoln; Purcell's Life of Manning; Benson's Life of Archbishop Benson; Selborne's Memorials, Family and Personal; Liddon's Life of Pusey; Davidson and Benham's Life of Archbishop Tait; Macdonell's Life of Archbishop Magee; Prothero's Life of Dean Stanley; Dean Burgon's Lives of Twelve Good Men; Goulburn's Life of Dean Burgon; Life of Dean Butler; Gent. Mag. 1838, ii. 543; Men and Women of the Time, 1895; Times, 23 March 1896; Ann. Reg. 1896, ii. 142; Guardian, 25 March, 1 April 1896; Westminster Gazette, 23 March 1896.]

J. M. R.

DENMAN, GEORGE (1819–1896), judge of the high court of justice, was the twelfth child and seventh son of Thomas, first baron Denman [q. v.], by Theodosia Anne, eldest daughter of the Rev. Richard Vevers, rector of Kettering. He was born on 23 Dec. 1819 at 50 Russell Square, London, and was educated first at Felstead and then at Repton school. He entered Trinity College, Cambridge, in October 1838, and obtained a scholarship there in 1840. As son of a peer he was permitted to go in for the classical tripos without competing for mathematical honours, and distinguished himself as senior classic in 1842. He also proved himself an athlete, rowing No. 7 in the boat-race against Oxford in both 1841 and 1842, and winning the Colquhoun sculls in October 1842. In 1842 he graduated B.A., and was elected fellow of his college on 10 Oct. 1843; he proceeded M.A. in 1845, and acted as auditor of Trinity from 1852 to 1865. Encouraged by his father to choose the bar as a profession he became a student at Lincoln's Inn in November 1843, entering the chambers of a well-known conveyancer, Peter Bellinger Brodie [q. v.] In November 1844 he became a pupil of (Sir) Barnes Peacock [q. v.], then a junior in large practice, with whom he remained until he was called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn on 24 Nov. 1846. He joined the home circuit on 2 March 1849, where he gradually acquired practice, and during his early years at the bar acted as a law-reporter on the staff of the 'Law Journal.'

In 1856 he unsuccessfully stood as parliamentary candidate for the university of Cambridge in the liberal interest on the death of Henry Goulburn [q. v.], and in the following year was appointed counsel to the university; he was created a Q.C. in 1861. At the general election in May 1859, he was elected M.P. for Tiverton as Lord Palmerston's colleague, and held the seat until 1872, excepting a short interval, 1865-6. In parliament he interested himself in the reform of the law of evidence in criminal trials, and on 20 June 1860 moved the second reading of the felony and misdemeanor bill, with the object of assimilating proceedings on trial to those at nisi prius. The bill passed the Commons, but was abandoned after alteration in the Lords. Five years later, 22 Feb. 1865, he successfully carried through a similar measure, the felony and misdemeanor evidence and practice bill. The Evidence further Amendment Act, 1869, popularly known as Denman's Act, by which witnesses professing no religious belief were enabled to affirm in courts of justice, and parties before incompetent were enabled to give evidence, was entirely due to his initiative.

On 3 May 1864 he seconded a motion for a select committee to inquire into the expediency of maintaining the punishment of death (Hansard, clxxiv. 2069), and 19 May 1865 he carried a resolution in favour of relieving attorneys and solicitors from the payment of an annual certificate duty, which, however, led to no practical result (ib. clxxix. 566). He was always in favour of enlarging the operation of the various reform bills and took an active part in the debate on the representation of the people bill, 1867. In all questions in parliament affecting the public schools and universities he exhibited great interest and supported the university tests bill, 23 May 1870 (Hansard, cci. 1280).

In October 1872 Denman was chosen to succeed Sir James Shaw Willes [q. v.] in the court of common pleas. As the son of a peer he did not accept the customary knighthood. In November 1875, by virtue of the Judicature Act, he became justice of the common pleas division of the high court. From 1881 to 1892, when he retired from the bench, he acted as judge of the high court of justice, queen's bench division. After retirement he became a privy councillor, January 1893, and occasionally sat on the judicial committee of the privy council.

Denman was popular on the bench, but was more distinguished as a graceful scholar than as a strong lawyer. He was gifted with a fine presence and a beautiful voice, and maintained without effort the dignity of his office. From his school days he was a facile writer of verses, and throughout life