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Eldon, John Scott, 1st earl of

Eldon, John Scott, 1st earl of (1751–1838). Lord chancellor. The son of a Newcastle coal merchant, Scott rose rapidly as a lawyer. He entered Parliament in 1783, and became solicitor-general 1788 and attorney-general 1793. He led for the crown in the ‘treason trials’ of Thomas Hardy and other radicals in 1794. He was appointed lord chief justice of Common Pleas in 1799, becoming Baron Eldon, and lord chancellor in 1801. He was a favourite of George III, who called him ‘My Lord Chancellor’. He served in the cabinets of Addington, Pitt, Perceval, and Liverpool until 1827. He was blamed by liberals for obstructing all reform and by others for the long delays in the Court of Chancery, though these were caused more by his conscientiousness in reaching judgments and the increase of litigation in this period. Eldon came to symbolize political obscurantism and right-wing extremism but was an exceptionally able lawyer and in private life good-natured, even-tempered, and affectionate, fond of a good story and good port.

E. A. Smith

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