Justice of Chester

The Justice of Chester was the chief judicial authority for the county palatine of Chester, from the establishment of the county[1] until the abolition of the Great Sessions in Wales and the palatine judicature in 1830.[2]

Within the County Palatine (which encompassed Cheshire, the City of Chester, and Flintshire), the Justice enjoyed the jurisdiction possessed in England by the Court of Common Pleas and the King's Bench.[3] While the legal reorganisation of Wales and the Marches under Henry VIII diminished the authority of the Earl of Chester (i.e., the Prince of Wales) in the County Palatine, the authority of the Justice was, in fact, increased. In 1542, the Great Sessions were established in Wales, that country being divided into four circuits of three shires each. Denbighshire, Flintshire, and Montgomeryshire were made part of the Chester circuit, over which the Justice presided. Under Elizabeth I, a second justice was added to each of the Welsh circuits,[4] after which the senior and junior justice are generally referred to as the Chief Justice of Chester and the Second or Puisne Justice of Chester.

Because the Cheshire justices were free to practice as barristers in the English courts or sit in Parliament, the post of Chief Justice was often awarded as a form of patronage by the Government to aspiring lawyers. The offices of Chief and Puisne Justice were abolished in 1830, as part of reforms that also brought Wales under the jurisdiction of the courts at Westminster.

Justices of Chester

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Chief and Puisne Justices of Chester

YearChief JusticePuisne Justice
1603 Sir Richard Lewknor Henry Townshend
1616 Sir Thomas Chamberlayne
1620 Sir James Whitelocke
1624 Sir Thomas Chamberlayne
1625 Sir John Bridgeman Marmaduke Lloyd
1636 Richard Prytherg
1638 Sir Thomas Milward
1648 John Bradshaw Peter Warburton
1649 Thomas Fell
1660 Timothy Turner
1661 Sir Geoffrey Palmer, Bt Robert Milward
1662 Sir Job Charlton
1674 George Johnson
1680 Sir George Jeffreys
1681 John Warren
1684 Sir Edward Herbert
1686 Sir Edward Lutwyche
1686 Sir Job Charlton
1689 Sir John Trenchard Lyttelton Powis
1690 John Coombe
1696 Salathiel Lovel
1697 Joseph Jekyll
1707 John Pocklington
1711 John Warde
1714 Edward Jeffreys
1717 Spencer Cowper
1726 John Willes
1729 Sir John Willes William Jessop
1734 John Verney Richard Potenger
1738 Matthew Skinner
1740 John Talbot
1749 William Noel
1756 Taylor White
1762 John Morton
1771 John Skynner
1777 Francis Buller
1778 Daines Barrington
1780 Lloyd Kenyon
1784 Richard Pepper Arden
1788 Edward Bearcroft Francis Burton
1796 James Adair
1798 William Grant
1799 James Mansfield
1804 Vicary Gibbs
1805 Robert Dallas
1813 Richard Richards
1814 Sir William Garrow
1815 William Draper Best
1816 Samuel Marshall
1817 John Leach Thomas Jervis
1818 William Draper Best
1818 John Copley
1819 Charles Warren

Offices abolished 1830


  1. Yates, p. 6
  2. Yates, p. 7
  3. Yates, pp. 32–33
  4. The Penny Cyclopedia, p. 505


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