November 23, 2005
Today in History: Mansfield Admitted to Bar
On this date, November 23, 1730, twenty-five year-old William Murray of Lincoln's Inn is called to the Bar. The fourth son of the Scottish noble Viscount Stormont, his political connections will keep him in business during his early years. His marriage to the daughter of the Earl of Winchelsea, a former secretary of state and Lord President of the Council, won't hurt his advancement, either. (Image: Private collection.)
Murray will be Solicitor General at 37, Attorney General and Leader of the House of Commons at 49, and Chief Justice of the King's Bench at 51, where, as 1st Earl of Mansfield, he’ll go on to become the most famous (if not actually the most influential) commercial law judge in British history.
By the way, the Murrays, a canny Scots clan, will play both sides of the fence in true Master of Ballantrae style in the decades that follow the “Glorious Revolution” of 1688. While William is working his way up the ladder in King George’s government, his brother James Murray will go with the Jacobites and be made Earl of Dunbar by the exiled king, an honor he'll never enjoy.
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