Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 52.djvu/15

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

proved to be a temporary residence in Trafalgar Square. Frequent attacks of a very violent nature were made during this time in the press and in parliament upon the Royal Academy and its administration, throughout which Shee acted with great dignity and determination as defender and spokesman in support of the academy and its privileges. Although Shee cannot be said to have assisted the progress of art, the Royal Academy owes to him a great debt for his conduct as president, both in internal as well as external affairs. Among other services to the academy Shee introduced the practice of giving a written discourse to the students at the biennial distribution of medals, and of inviting distinguished guests to attend this ceremony. When, at the age of seventy-six, in 1845 he resigned the presidential chair, a unanimous address was presented to him by the academicians and associates to continue in office, which he felt unable to refuse. He continued therefore to hold the office until his death at Brighton on 19 Aug. 1850. A public funeral in St. Paul's Cathedral was desired by the royal academicians, but at Shee's own request he was buried in the cemetery at Brighton. Shee married, on 19 Dec. 1796, at Paddington church, Mary (d. 1846) eldest daughter of James Power of Youghal, by whom he left three sons and three daughters. The eldest son, Martin Archer Shee, died at Brighton in his 94th year on 13 Sept. 1898. Shee's wife received, on 30 Sept. 1845, a civil list pension of 200l., which was settled jointly on her death on her three daughters.

In addition to the poem mentioned above Shee published ‘Commemoration of Reynolds, and other Poems’ (1814) and two novels—‘Oldcourt’ (1829) and ‘Cecil Hyde’ (1834). In 1823 Shee completed a tragedy entitled ‘Alasco,’ based on the partition of Poland, which was accepted by Charles Kemble and put in rehearsal at Covent Garden Theatre; but, to everybody's surprise, the play was prohibited in the following year by the examiner of plays, George Colman the younger [q. v.] The inoffensive play was published in 1824.

Among the learned and cultured societies of which Shee was a member were the Royal Society and the Society of Dilettanti. He was elected a member of the latter on 4 July 1830, when he succeeded Sir Thomas Lawrence as painter to the society. In that capacity he painted the portrait of John B. Sawrey Morritt [q. v.], in his robes as archmaster of the ceremonies to the society, which may be regarded as one of his best works. In the National Gallery there is a portrait by Shee of William Thomas Lewes the comedian as the Marquis in the ‘Midnight Hour,’ painted in 1791; and in the National Portrait Gallery portraits of Lord-chief-justice Denman, Thomas Morton the dramatist, General Sir Thomas Picton, and Lieutenant-general William Popham.

[Life of Sir Martin Archer Shee, by his son; Sandby's Hist. Roy. Acad.; Redgrave's Dict.]

L. C.

SHEE, Sir WILLIAM (1804–1868), judge, born at Finchley, Middlesex, on 24 June 1804, was the eldest son of Joseph Shee of Thomastown, co. Kilkenny, and of Laurence Pountney Place in the city of London, merchant, by his wife Teresa, daughter of John Darell of Scotney Castle, Kent. He was sent at a very early age to a French school at Somers Town, kept by the Abbé Carron, the friend and early counsellor of Lamennais. Thence he went in 1818 to St. Cuthbert's College, Ushaw, near Durham, where his cousin Nicholas (afterwards Cardinal) Wiseman was then a student. He subsequently attended lectures at the university of Edinburgh, and became a member of the Speculative Society. He was admitted a student of Lincoln's Inn on 31 May 1823, and studied law in the chambers of Mr. Chitty, the well-known special pleader. On 19 June 1828 he was called to the bar, where he gradually acquired an extensive practice. He led with great power and success the Maidstone sessions, and on taking the coif ‘obtained a considerable lead upon the home circuit’ (Ballantine, Some Experiences of a Barrister's Life, 1882, p. 171). He took the degree of serjeant-at-law on 19 Feb. 1840, received a patent of precedence in Trinity vacation 1845, and was appointed queen's serjeant in 1857.

Shee was a moderate and consistent liberal throughout his life. Soon after his call to the bar he distinguished himself by an eloquent speech in favour of catholic emancipation, at the great protestant meeting held on Pennenden Heath, near Maidstone, on 24 Nov. 1828. He unsuccessfully contested the borough of Marylebone at the general election in July 1847. In July 1852 he obtained a seat in the House of Commons for the county of Kilkenny, which he continued to represent until the dissolution of parliament in March 1857. Shee spoke in the house for the first time on 12 Nov. 1852, during the debate on the report on the address (Parl. Debates, 3rd ser. cxxiii. 139–41). In the absence of William Sharman Crawford [q. v.] from parliament, Shee took charge of the Tenant Right Bill, which he reintroduced on 25 Nov. 1852 (ib. pp. 529, 530). On 7 Dec. following he made a long and exhaustive speech on Napier's Tenants' Im-