John Singleton Copley Baron Lyndhurst

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Lyndhurst, John Singleton Copley, 1st Baron (1772–1863). Lord chancellor. Born in Boston (Mass.), son of J. S. Copley the elder, the portrait painter, he came to England, attended Cambridge University, and was called to the bar in 1804. He was appointed solicitor-general in 1819 and prosecuted the Cato Street conspirators and in the ‘trial’ of Queen Caroline. He became attorney-general in 1824, master of the rolls 1826, and Tory lord chancellor 1827–30, 1834–5, and 1841–6. A leading opponent of the Reform Bill, and a tower of strength to the Conservative Party in the Lords after 1830, he was a vigorous and effective speaker even in his later years. In 1856 at the age of 84 he was instrumental in defeating the government's plan to create life peerages. Benjamin Haydon wrote in 1845 that he looked like ‘a superannuated Mephistopheles’.

E. A. Smith