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Chitty, Sir Joseph William

CHITTY, SIR JOSEPH WILLIAM (1828-1899), English judge, was born in London. He was the second son of Thomas Chitty (himself son and brother of well-known lawyers), a celebrated special pleader and writer of legal text-books, in whose pupil-room many distinguished lawyers began their legal education. Joseph Chitty was educated at Eton and Balliol, Oxford, gaining a first-class in Literae Humaniores in 1851, and being afterwards elected to a fellowship at Exeter College. His principal distinctions during his school and college career had been earned in athletics, and he came to London as a man who had stroked the Oxford boat and captained the Oxford cricket eleven. He became a member of Lincoln's Inn in 1851, was called to the bar in 1856, and made a queen's counsel in 1874, electing to practise as such in the court in which Sir George Jessel, master of the rolls, presided. Chitty was highly successful in his method of dealing with a very masterful if exceedingly able judge, and soon his practice became very large. In 1880 he entered the house of commons as liberal member for Oxford (city). His parliamentary career was short, for in 1881 the Judicature Act required that the master of the rolls should cease to sit regularly as a judge of first instance, and Chitty was selected to fill the vacancy thus created in the chancery division. Sir Joseph Chitty was for sixteen years a popular judge, in the best meaning of the phrase, being noted for his courtesy, geniality, patience and scrupulous fairness, as well as for his legal attainments, and being much respected and liked by those practising before him, in spite of a habit of interrupting counsel, possibly acquired through the example of Sir George Jessel. In 1897, on the retirement of Sir Edward Kay, L.J., he was promoted to the court of appeal. There he more than sustained - in fact, he appreciably increased - his reputation as a lawyer and a judge, proving himself to possess considerable knowledge of the common law as well as of equity. He died in London on the 15th of February 1899. He married in 1858 Clara Jessie, daughter of Chief Baron Pollock, and left children who could thus claim descent from two of the best-known English legal families of the 19th century.

See E. Manson, Builders of our Law (1904).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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