William Webb Follett

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Sir William Webb-Follett. Marble bust sculpted by Edward Bowring Stephens, presented in 1842 to the Devon & Exeter Institution, Exeter
File:Sir William Webb Follett by Sir Martin Archer Shee.jpg
Sir William Webb Follett, portrait by Sir Martin Archer Shee (1769-1850). National Portrait Gallery, London
File:William Webb Follett.jpg
Sir William Webb Follett

Sir William Webb Follett (2 December 1796 – 28 June 1845), was an English lawyer and politician who served as MP for Exeter (1835-1845). He served twice as Solicitor-General, in 1834-5 and 1841 and as Attorney-General in 1844. He was knighted in 1835. He was reputed to have been the "greatest advocate of the century".[1]


Follett was born at Topsham in Devon, the son of Captain Benjamin Follett, who had retired from the army in 1790 and gone into business, and his wife Ann Webb, daughter of John Webb.[2] His younger brother was Brent Spencer Follett (1810-1887) QC, MP.[2]


Follett received his education at Exeter grammar school and Trinity College, Cambridge, graduating in 1818.[3] Follett entered the Inner Temple in 1816 and began to practise as a pleader below the bar in 1821, was called to the bar in 1824, and joined the western circuit in 1825. In 1835 he was returned to parliament for Exeter. In parliament he rapidly distinguished himself, and under the first administration of Sir Robert Peel he was appointed in November 1834 as Solicitor-General. He resigned with the ministry in April 1835. In the course of this year he was knighted. On the return of Peel to power in 1841 Follett was again appointed Solicitor-General, and in April 1844 he succeeded Sir Frederick Pollock as Attorney-General.


In 1830 Follett married the eldest daughter of Sir Ambrose Hardinge Giffard (1771–1827) chief justice of British Ceylon.

Death & burial

His health began to fail him in 1838, and he was permanently injured by a severe illness in 1841. In 1845 his health broke down, and he was compelled to relinquish legal practice and to visit the south of Europe to recuperate. He returned to England in March 1845, but the tuberculosis, with which he had previously been diagnosed, reasserted itself and he died in London on the 28th of June 1845. He was buried in the Temple Church in London.[4]


A statue of Follett executed by William Behnes was erected by subscription in Westminster Abbey. His marble bust by Edward Bowring Stephens exists in the Devon and Exeter Institution, Exeter.


  1. Per inscribed plaque on base of his bust in the Devon & Exeter Institution
  2. 2.0 2.1 Dod, Charles Roger Phipps (1852). The Parliamentarian Companion (2nd ed.). London: Whitaker and Co. p. 178.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Follett, William Webb (FLT813WW)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Per inscribed plaque on base of his bust in the Devon & Exeter Institution

Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. Missing or empty |title= (help)CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
James Wentworth Buller
Edward Divett
Member of Parliament for Exeter
1835 – 1845
With: Edward Divett
Succeeded by
Sir John Duckworth, Bt
Edward Divett
Political offices
Preceded by
Sir Robert Rolfe
Solicitor-General for England and Wales
Succeeded by
Sir Robert Rolfe
Preceded by
Sir Thomas Wilde
Solicitor-General for England and Wales
Succeeded by
Sir Frederic Thesiger
Preceded by
Sir Frederick Pollock
Attorney-General for England and Wales
Succeeded by
Sir Frederic Thesiger