John Duke Coleridge, 1st Baron Coleridge

Lord Chief Justice Coleridge and his Lady wife booked into the Midland Hotel, Bradford,  June 9th 1893.

Whilst travelling, Lord Coleridge caught a chill and fever subsequently set in. Unfortunately it was too late to let the public awaiting the silver tongued Lord’s address, know of his illness.    The large crowds that had  gathered outside Victoria Hall in Saltaire, were somewhat disappointed, however Coleridge got out of his sick bed to entertain his public the following night at Salt’s Schools.   By the 14th of June he was passed fit to travel and left the Midland Hotel for London, on the 12.55 train.

John Duke Coleridge, 1st Baron Coleridge (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.

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. He 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. 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 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, 12th Baronet. 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 Rev. 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 he 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.