Scarlett, James, 1st Baron Abinger

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Scarlett, James, 1st Baron Abinger (1769–1844). Born in Jamaica and educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, Scarlett became an extremely successful lawyer and in 1819 was brought into Parliament by Fitzwilliam as a Whig. His maiden speech went off well and Tierney wrote that he had ‘a better parliamentary manner than any lawyer I recollect’. But Scarlett could not quite sustain this brilliant début and all through the 1820s the Whigs were in opposition. In 1827 he took office with Canning as attorney-general, resigned in 1828, and resumed in 1829. The following year he gave strong opposition to the Whig Reform Bill and was obliged to change patrons, coming in for one of Lord Lonsdale's boroughs. He seemed to have switched allegiance at the wrong moment and on the death of Lord Tenterden in 1832 was passed over for lord chief justice. But Peel's brief minority government in 1834 made him lord chief baron of the Exchequer with a peerage. Scarlett was more successful as an advocate than either a parliamentarian or a judge.

J. A. Cannon