Blackstone, Sir William

Blackstone, Sir William

Blackstone, Sir William, 1723-80, English jurist. At first unsuccessful in legal practice, he turned to scholarship and teaching. He became (1758) the first Vinerian professor of law at Oxford, where he inaugurated courses in English law. British universities had previously confined themselves to the study of Roman law. Blackstone published his lectures as Commentaries on the Laws of England (4 vol., 1765-69), a work that reduced to order and lucidity the formless bulk of English law. It ranks with the achievements of Sir Edward Coke and Sir Matthew Hale, Blackstone's great predecessors. Blackstone's Commentaries, written in an urbane, dignified, and clear style, is regarded as the most thorough treatment of the whole of English law ever produced by one man. It demonstrated that English law as a system of justice was comparable to Roman law and the civil law of the Continent. Blackstone has been criticized, notably by Jeremy Bentham, for a complacent belief that, in the main, English law was beyond improvement and for his failure to analyze exactly the social and historical factors underlying legal systems. Blackstone's book exerted tremendous influence on the legal profession and on the teaching of law in England and in the United States. In his later life Blackstone resumed practice, served in Parliament, was solicitor general to the queen, and was a judge of the Court of Common Pleas.

See The Sovereignty of the Law, selections from Blackstone's Commentaries, ed. and with an introd. by G. Jones (1973); biography by O. A. Lockmiller (1938); J. Bentham, A Comment on the Commentaries (ed. by C. W. Everett, 1928); P. Lucas, Essays in the Margin of Blackstone's Commentaries (1962).

Sir William Fenwick Williams, 1st Baronet GCB (4 December 1800 – 26 July 1883) was a British military leader of the Victorian era.

Early life

He was born in Annapolis, Nova Scotia, the second son of Commissary-General Thomas Williams, barrack-master at Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Career

He entered the Royal Artillery as second lieutenant in 1825. His services were lent to Turkey in 1841, and he was employed as a captain in the arsenal at Constantinople. He was British commissioner in the conferences preceding the treaty of Erzerum in 1847, and again in the settlement of the Turko-Persian boundary in 1848 (brevet majority and lieutenant-colonelcy and CB).

Promoted colonel, he was British commissioner with the Turkish army in Anatolia in the Russian War of 1854–56, and, having been made a pasha (general/governor/lord) with the degree of ferik (major-general), he practically commanded the Turks during the heroic defence of Kars, repulsing several Russian attacks and severely defeating the Russian general Muraviev in the siege of Kars (not to be confused with the Battle of Kars) on 29 September 1855. Cold, cholera, famine and hopelessness of succour from without, however, compelled Williams to make an honourable capitulation on 28 November following.

A baronetcy with pension for life, the KCB, the grand cross of the Legion of Honour and of the Turkish Medjidie, the freedom of the City of London with a sword of honour, and the honorary degree of DCL of Oxford University, were the distinctions conferred upon him for his valour.

Promoted major-general in November 1855 on his return from captivity in Russia, he held the Woolwich command, and represented the borough of Calne in parliament from 1856 to 1859.

From 1859 to 1864 he held the position of Commander in Chief, North America, and was responsible for preparations for war with the United States in the case that relations broke down. The most severe strain in relations occurring during the Trent Affair.

He became lieutenant-general and colonel-commandant Royal Artillery in 1864, general in 1868, commanded the forces in Canada from 1859 to 1865, held the governorship of Nova Scotia 1865–1867, and the governorship of Gibraltar 1870–1876. He was made GCB in 1871, and Constable of the Tower of London in 1881.

Later life

He died in London on 26 July, 1883 and is buried in Brompton Cemetery.

External links

References

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