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Law, Edward, 1st Baron Ellenborough

Law, Edward, 1st Baron Ellenborough (1750–1818). Lawyer. Law was called to the bar in 1780 and practised successfully on the northern circuit. He was leading defence counsel in the impeachment of Warren Hastings and through his success acquired a lucrative London practice. In 1793–4 he acted as counsel for the crown in the ‘treason trials’ of prominent radicals. He accepted office as attorney-general under Addington and entered Parliament in 1801, becoming lord chief justice of Common Pleas a year later. He spoke forcefully in the Lords and in 1806 he was brought into the cabinet to strengthen Addington's numbers, but the appointment was objected to on the grounds that it violated the independence of the judiciary. He presided over several important political trials and led the opposition in the Lords to criminal law reform. The collapse of his health obliged him to resign from the bench in November 1818 and he died a month later. He was ‘a remorseless cross-examiner’, too severe and intolerant to be popular, but in private an entertaining table companion.

E. A. Smith

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Ellenborough, Edward Law, 1st Baron

Edward Law Ellenborough, 1st Baron, 1750–1818, British jurist and statesman. He achieved fame through his successful defense of Warren Hastings in the impeachment trial (1788–95), but his principal influence on England lay in his lifelong conservatism. As attorney general (1801) and lord chief justice (1802–18), he opposed Catholic Emancipation and supported the repressive measures against radicals.

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