Henry Hawkins, 1st Baron Brampton

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The Right Honourable
The Lord Brampton
File:Photo of Henry Hawkins, 1st Baron Brampton.jpg
Lord Brampton.
Personal details
Born (1817-09-14)14 September 1817
Hitchin, Hertfordshire
Died 6 October 1907(1907-10-06) (aged 90)
Tilney Street, Park Lane, London
Nationality British
Spouse(s) (1) Hanna Casey (d. 1886)
(2) Jane Louisa Reynolds (d. 1907)

Henry Hawkins, 1st Baron Brampton, PC, KC (14 September 1817 – 6 October 1907), known as Sir Henry Hawkins between 1876 and 1899, was an English judge. He served as a Judge of the High Court of Justice between 1876 and 1898.

Background and education

Born at Hitchin, Hertfordshire, Hawkins was the son of John Hawkins, a solicitor, and Susanna, daughter of Theed Pearse. Through his father he was early familiarised with legal principles. He was educated at Bedford School, and was called to the Bar, Middle Temple, in 1843.[1]

Legal career 1843-1876

Hawkins at once joined the old home circuit, and after enjoying a lucrative practice as a junior, became a barrister in 1858 and a Queen's Counsel in 1859. His name is identified with many of the famous trials of the reign of Queen Victoria. He was engaged in the Simon Bernard case, in that of Roupell v. Waite, and in the Overend-Gurney prosecutions. The two causes célèbres, however, in which Hawkins attained his highest legal distinction were the Tichborne trials and the great will case of Sugden v. Lord St. Leonards, relating to the lost will of Edward Sugden, 1st Baron St Leonards. In both of these he won. He had a lucrative business in references and arbitrations, and acted for the royal commissioners in the purchase of the site for the new law courts. Election petitions also formed another branch of his extensive practice.

Judicial career 1876-1898

Hawkins was raised to the bench in 1876, and was assigned to the then exchequer division of the High Court of Justice, not as baron (an appellation which was being abolished by the Judicature Act), but with the title of Sir Henry Hawkins. His knowledge of the criminal law was extensive and intimate and he got a reputation as a hanging judge. Hawkins would be the judge at a large number of the most famous English criminal trials of his day. His first major case was the 1877 trial of Louis Staunton, his brother Patrick, and two others for the murder of Louis' wife Harriet and her baby by starvation. A question regarding whether he was too favourable to the prosecution's case (coupled with evidence of meningitis rather than starvation being the cause of death) led to a public campaign orchestrated by the novelist Charles Reade. The decision reduced the sentences of the three convicted defendants (for the Staunton brothers prison sentences rather than death sentences). Patrick Staunton's barrister, Edward Clarke, never forgave Hawkins, whom he considered a wicked judge, and refused years later to support any attempt by the British Bar to celebrate the man upon his retirement.

Other trials that Hawkins presided over included Dr George Henry Lamson for the poisoning of his brother-in-law Percy Johns at Wimbledon in December 1881 (the trial was in April 1882); the trial of Mary Fitzpatrick for murder in November 1882;[2] the Earl of Euston's 1889 libel case against newspaper editor Ernest Parke – a notorious miscarriage of justice that was part of the Cleveland Street scandal; the trial of Dr Thomas Neill Cream for the Lambeth/Stepney poisonings of prostitutes from December 1891 to April 1892 (the trial was in November 1892); and the trial of Albert Milsom and Henry Fowler for the Muswell Hill murder in February 1896 (the trial was in May 1896). In 1898 he retired from the bench. The following year he was raised to the peerage as Baron Brampton, of Brampton in the County of Huntingdon,[3] and sworn of the Privy Council.[4] He frequently took part in determining House of Lords appeals.

Personal life

File:The grave of Henry Hawkins, Lord Brampton, Kensal Green Cemetery.JPG
The grave of Henry Hawkins, Lord Brampton, Kensal Green Cemetery.

Lord Brampton was twice married. He married firstly Hannah T. Casey. After her death in September 1886 he married secondly Jane Louisa, daughter of Henry Francis Reynolds, in 1887. He held for many years the office of counsel to the Jockey Club, and as an active member of that body found relaxation from his legal and judicial duties at the leading race meetings, and was considered a capable judge of horses. In 1898 he converted to Catholicism, and in 1903 he presented, in conjunction with Lady Brampton (his second wife), the chapel of Sts. Augustine and Gregory to the Roman Catholic Westminster Cathedral, which was consecrated in that year. In 1904 he published his Reminiscences edited by Richard Harris, K.C. ( Publisher; Edward Arnold, London)

Lord Brampton died at Tilney Street, Park Lane, London, on 6 October 1907, aged 90; the barony then became extinct. He left a fortune of £141,000. Lady Brampton (Jane Louisa Reynolds) died in November the following year.[1] They are buried together in Kensal Green Cemetery in London.


  1. 1.0 1.1 thepeerage.com Henry Hawkins, 1st and last Baron Brampton of Brampton
  2. "Yorkshire Assizes". York Herald. British Newspaper Archive. 4 November 1882. p. 3 col5. Retrieved 19 August 2019.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. The London Gazette: no. 27047. p. . 31 January 1899.
  4. The London Gazette: no. 27061. p. . 10 March 1899.
  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). [https%3A%2F%2Fen.wikisource.org%2Fwiki%2F1911_Encyclop%C3%A6dia_Britannica%2FBrampton%2C_Henry_Hawkins "Brampton, Henry Hawkins" ] Check |ws link in chapter= value (help). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Adam, Hargrave L. (ed.) The Trial of George Henry Lamson. (The Notable British Trial Series) (London, Edinburgh, Glasgow: William Hodge and Company, Ltd., 1911, 1912).
  • Lustgarten, Edgar The Woman In the Case. (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1955), Chapter III: "The Victim: Harriet Staunton", p. 117–151 (the same chapter appears in Lustgarten's The Murder and the Trial (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1958), as 10. "The Brothers Staunton", p. 155–178. It mentions Reade's campaign to save the defendants, and Clarkes' unforgiving view of Hawkins.).

External links

  • Works by Henry Hawkins, 1st Baron Brampton at Project Gutenberg
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  • Wikisource-logo.svg Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). [https%3A%2F%2Fen.wikisource.org%2Fwiki%2FCatholic_Encyclopedia_%281913%29%2FSir_Henry_Hawkins "Sir Henry Hawkins" ] Check |ws link in chapter= value (help). Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • The Police Code Includes an essay by Hawkins on the duties of the police.
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baron Brampton