Shadwell, Lancelot (DNB00)

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SHADWELL, Sir LANCELOT (1779–1850), last vice-chancellor of England, eldest son of Lancelot Shadwell of Lincoln's Inn, barrister-at-law, an eminent conveyancer, by his wife Elizabeth, third daughter of Charles Whitmore of Southampton, was born on 3 May 1779. He was educated at Eton, and subsequently went to St. John's College, Cambridge, where, in 1800, he became seventh wrangler, obtained the second chancellor's medal, and graduated B.A. He was elected a fellow of his college on 23 March 1801, graduated M.A. in 1803, and received the honorary degree of LL.D. in 1842. Shadwell was admitted a member of Lincoln's Inn on 30 June 1797, and was called to the bar on 10 Feb. 1803. After practising eighteen years with much success as a junior in the court of chancery, he was appointed a king's counsel on 8 Dec. 1821, and took his seat within the bar on the first day of Hilary term 1822 (J. B. Moore, Reports of Cases in the Common Pleas and Exchequer Chamber, 1824, vi. 441). In spite of much pecuniary loss, he refused to follow the practice then prevalent of taking briefs in more than one equity court, and honourably confined himself to practising before the lord chancellor, not being able, as he said, ‘to induce himself to think that it is consistent with justice, much less with honour, to undertake to lead a cause and either forsake it altogether or give it an imperfect, hasty, and divided attention—consequences that inevitably result from the attempt to conduct causes before two judges sitting at the same time in different places’ (Gent. Mag. 1850, ii. 545). At the general election in June 1826 Shadwell obtained a seat in the House of Commons for the borough of Ripon through the influence of Miss Elizabeth Sophia Lawrence [see Aislabie, John], under whose will he subsequently received a handsome bequest. On 14 Feb. 1827 he introduced a bill for the limitation of a writ of right and for the amendment of the law of dower, but it did not get beyond the committee stage (Parliamentary Debates, 2nd ser. xvi. 471–3, 474–5, xvii. 94, 174). His parliamentary career was short, for on 31 Oct. 1827 he was appointed vice-chancellor of England in the place of Sir Anthony Hart (London Gazette, 1827, ii. 2250). On 16 Nov. following he was sworn a member of the privy council and knighted (ib. 1827, ii. 2385, 2386). He presided in the vice-chancellor's court for nearly twenty-three years. During this period he twice filled the office of a commissioner of the great seal: from 23 April 1835 to 16 Jan. 1836 in conjunction with Sir C. C. Pepys (afterwards Lord Cottenham) and Sir J. B. Bosanquet, and again from 19 June to 15 July 1850 in conjunction with Lord Langdale and Sir R. M. Rolfe (afterwards Lord Cranworth). On 24 June he was seized with a sudden illness, which prevented him from sitting again during the continuance of the second commission. He died at his residence, Barn Elms, Surrey, on 10 Aug. 1850, aged 71, and was buried in Barnes churchyard.

Shadwell married, first, on 8 Jan. 1805, Harriet, daughter of Anthony Richardson of Powis Place, Great Ormond Street, a London merchant, and sister of Sir John Richardson, some time a justice of the common pleas, by whom he had Sir Charles Frederick Alexander Shadwell [q. v.], and five other sons. His first wife died on 25 May 1814, and on 4 Jan. 1816 he married, secondly, Frances, third and youngest daughter of Captain Locke, by whom he had six sons and five daughters. Shadwell's second wife died on 27 Oct. 1854, aged 66.

Shadwell, who was the last ‘vice-chancellor of England,’ was a learned and able judge, with a handsome presence and courteous manners. Of his complete subjection to Bethell, the leader of his court, many stories are told (see Nash, Life of Richard, Lord Westbury, 1888, i. 69, 84–5, 95). He was president of the Society of Psychrolutes, the qualification for the membership of that body being the daily practice of bathing out of doors from November to March (Roget, History of the ‘Old Water Colour’ Society, 1891, ii. 210–11). He was in the habit of bathing every day, whatever the weather, in one of the creeks of the Thames near Barn Elms, and while thus engaged is said to have granted an injunction on one occasion in the long vacation. In his early days he was an active pedestrian (see Arnould, Memoir of Lord Denman, 1873, i. 17, 25), and in 1797 he served as a member of the light-horse volunteers (Lord Colchester, Diary and Correspondence, 1861, i. 114). He was elected a bencher of Lincoln's Inn on 30 Jan. 1822, and acted as treasurer in 1833.

His portrait, painted in 1842 by Thomas Phillips, R.A., is in the possession of his inn. His decisions will be found in the ‘Reports’ of Nicholas Simons (ii. 41 to xvii. 166).

The vice-chancellor's eighth son, Lawrence Shadwell (1823–1887), born in July 1823, was educated at Eton, and entered the army as ensign in the 98th foot on 26 April 1841. He served in the China expedition of 1842, the Punjab campaign of 1848–9, and in the Crimean war of 1854–6. He held the appointment of assistant quartermaster-general in the Crimea during the greater part of the war. After his return to England, he was assistant quartermaster-general to the troops in the northern district from April 1857 to September 1861, in Nova Scotia from January to August 1862, and in the south-western district of England from April 1864 to February 1866. From 1866 to 1871 he was military assistant at the war office. He was promoted to the rank of major-general on 6 March 1868, and was created a companion of the Bath on 2 June 1869. He was granted a reward for distinguished and meritorious services in January 1874, and was advanced to the rank of lieutenant-general on 27 April 1879, and to that of general on 1 July 1881. He retired from the army on 25 July 1881, and died at Reading on 16 Aug. 1887, aged 64. Lawrence Shadwell married, on 2 Aug. 1853, Helen Frances, daughter of the Rev. Edward Coleridge, vicar of Mapledurham, Oxfordshire, and fellow of Eton College.

[Foss's Judges of England, 1864, ix. 261–4; Hardy's Memoirs of Lord Langdale, 1852, ii. 258–68; Georgian Era, 1833, ii. 552; Law Times, xv. 467; Legal Observer, xl. 305; De Gex and Smale's Reports, vol. iv. pp. ix–xi; Illustrated London News, 17 Aug. 1850 (with portrait); Brayley and Britton's Surrey, 1850, iii. 437, 438; Ann. Reg. 1850, app. to chron. pp. 251–2; Gent. Mag. 1805 i. 83, 1814 i. 628, 1845 ii. 423, 1854 ii. 644; Baker's History of St. John's College, Cambridge, 1869, pt. i. pp. 311, 312; Grad. Cantabr. 1856, p. 341; Stapylton's Eton School Lists, 1864, pp. 14, 21, 172; Official Return of Lists of Members of Parliament, pt. ii. p. 309; Haydn's Book of Dignities, 1890; Lincoln's Inn Registers; Army Lists.]

G. F. R. B.