John Coleridge, 1st Baron Coleridge

For other people named John Coleridge, see John Coleridge (disambiguation).
The Right Honourable
The Lord Coleridge

The Lord Coleridge

Lord Coleridge by Eden Upton Eddis
2nd Lord Chief Justice of England
In office
29 November 1880  14 June 1894
Monarch Victoria
Preceded by Sir Alexander Cockburn, Bt
Succeeded by The Lord Russell of Killowen
Chief Justice of the Common Pleas
In office
November 1873  20 November 1880
Monarch Victoria
Preceded by Sir William Bovill
Succeeded by Himself
as Lord Chief Justice of England
Attorney General for England
In office
10 November 1871  20 November 1873
Monarch Victoria
Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone
Preceded by Robert Collier
Succeeded by Henry James
Solicitor General for England
In office
12 December 1868  10 November 1871
Monarch Victoria
Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone
Preceded by Sir Richard Baggallay
Succeeded by Sir George Jessel
Personal details
Born John Duke Coleridge
3 December 1820
Ottery St Mary, Devon
United Kingdom
Died 14 June 1894(1894-06-14) (aged 73)
Westminster, London
United Kingdom
Nationality United Kingdom
Political party Liberal
Spouse(s) Jane Fortescue Seymour
Amy Augusta Jackson Lawford (1885–1894)
Relations John Taylor Coleridge (Father)
Children Bernard Coleridge
Stephen Coleridge
1 Other Son
1 Daughter
Alma mater Eton College
Balliol College, Oxford
Occupation Barrister, Politician

John Duke Coleridge, 1st Baron Coleridge, PC (3 December 1820 – 14 June 1894) was a British lawyer, judge and Liberal politician. He held the posts, in turn, of Solicitor General for England and Wales, Attorney General for England and Wales, Chief Justice of the Common Pleas and Lord Chief Justice of England.

Background and education

Coleridge was the eldest son of John Taylor Coleridge, and the great-nephew of the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. He was educated at Eton and Balliol College, Oxford, and was called to the bar in 1846.

Coleridge was a member of the Canterbury Association from 24 June 1851.[1]

Coleridge established a successful legal practice on the western circuit. From 1853 to 1854 he held the post of secretary to the Royal Commission on the City of London.[2] In 1865 he was elected to the House of Commons for Exeter for the Liberal Party. He made a favourable impression on the leaders of his party and when the Liberals came to office in 1868 under William Ewart Gladstone, Coleridge was appointed Solicitor-General. In 1871 he was promoted to Attorney-General, a post he held until 1873. In 1871 he was also involved in the high-publicity Tichborne Case.

In November 1873 Coleridge succeeded Sir William Bovill as Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, and in January the following year was raised to the peerage as Baron Coleridge, of Ottery St Mary in the County of Devon. In 1880 he was made Lord Chief Justice of England on the death of Sir Alexander Cockburn. Despite his health failing towards the end of his life he remained in this office until his death.


Lord Coleridge married Jane Fortescue Seymour, daughter of the Reverend George Seymour of Freshwater, Isle of Wight, herself an accomplished artist who notably painted John Henry Newman. They had three sons and a daughter. His first wife died in February 1878. He remained a widower until 1885 when married Amy Augusta Jackson Lawford, who survived him. Lord Coleridge died in June 1894, aged 74, and was succeeded by his eldest son Bernard John Seymour, who later became a Judge of the High Court of Justice. His second son Stephen also became a barrister. His daughter Mildred eloped with the lawyer Charles Warren Adams, to whom she was married in 1885. This led to two celebrated libel actions won by Adams while Coleridge was serving as lord chief justice.[3]

Leading cases and judgments


  1. Blain, Rev. Michael (2007). The Canterbury Association (1848-1852): A Study of Its Members’ Connections (PDF). Christchurch: Project Canterbury. pp. 22–23. Retrieved 20 March 2013.
  2. "List of commissions and officials: 1850–1859 (nos. 53–94)". Office-Holders in Modern Britain: Volume 9. 1984. Retrieved 2008-03-10.
  3. ODNB entry on Coleridge, John Duke, first Baron Coleridge by David Pugsley. Retrieved 16 December 2012. Pay-walled.
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Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Richard Sommers Gard
Viscount Courtenay
Member of Parliament for Exeter
With: Viscount Courtenay 1865–1868
Edgar Alfred Bowring 1868–1873
Succeeded by
Edgar Alfred Bowring
Arthur Mills
Political offices
Preceded by
Sir Richard Baggallay
Solicitor General
Succeeded by
Sir George Jessel
Preceded by
Sir Robert Collier
Attorney General
Succeeded by
Sir Henry James
Legal offices
Preceded by
Sir William Bovill
Chief Justice of the Common Pleas
Succeeded by
(office abolished)
Preceded by
Sir Alexander Cockburn
Lord Chief Justice of England
Succeeded by
Lord Russell of Killowen
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baron Coleridge
Succeeded by
Bernard John Seymour Coleridge
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