Chief Baron of the Exchequer

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The Chief Baron of the Exchequer was the first "baron" (i.e., judge) of the English Exchequer of pleas. "In the absence of both the Treasurer of the Exchequer or First Lord of the Treasury, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, it was he who presided in the equity court and answered the bar i.e. spoke for the court."[1] Practically speaking, he held the most important office of the Exchequer of Pleas.

The chief baron along with the three puisne barons, sat as a court of common law, heard suits in the court of equity, and settled revenue disputes. A puisne baron was styled "Mr Baron X" and the chief baron as "Lord Chief Baron X".

From 1550 to 1579, there was a major distinction between the chief baron and the second, third and fourth puisne barons. The difference was in social status and education. All of the chief barons had been trained as lawyers in the inns of court. With the exception of Henry Bradshaw and Sir Clement Higham, both barristers-at-law, all of the chief barons who served Queen Elizabeth I, had attained the highest and most prestigious rank of a lawyer, serjeant-at-law.

In 1875, the Court of Exchequer became the Exchequer Division of the High Court. Following the death of the last chief baron, the division and that of Common Pleas were merged into the Queen's Bench Division.[2]

Chief Barons of the Exchequer

See also


  1. Bryson, W., The equity side of the Exchequer; Its jurisdiction, administration, procedures, and records; York prize essay for 1973.
  2. Lord Mackay of Clashfern (ed.) (2002) Halsbury's Laws of England, 4th ed. Vol.10 (Reissue), "Courts", 603 'Divisions of the High Court'
  3. Vivian, Lt.Col. J.L., (Ed.) The Visitation of the County of Devon: Comprising the Heralds' Visitations of 1531, 1564 & 1620, Exeter, 1895, p.150, pedigree of Cary; See also biography of his son Sir Robert Cary in History of Parliament [1]
  4. Ball, F. E., The Judges in Ireland, 1221-1921, Volume 1, P 342

Further reading

  • Walker, David M., The Oxford Companion to Law, Appendix I, list of Chief Barons 1660-1880
  • Sainty (comp.), Sir John, The Judges of England, 1272-1990: a list of the judges of the Superior courts (Selden Society: Supplementary Series 1993, 10).