Justice of Chester
The Justice of Chester was the chief judicial authority for the county palatine of Chester, from the establishment of the county until the abolition of the Great Sessions in Wales and the palatine judicature in 1830.
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. 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, 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
- Sir John Holland 1381–1385
- Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York 1385–1387
- Robert de Vere, Duke of Ireland 1387–1388
- Thomas of Woodstock, 1st Duke of Gloucester 1388–1391
- John Holland, 1st Duke of Exeter 1391–1394
- Thomas de Mowbray, 1st Duke of Norfolk 1394–1398
- William le Scrope, 1st Earl of Wiltshire 1398–1399
- Henry Percy 1400–1403
- Gilbert Talbot, 5th Baron Talbot 1403–1419
- Thomas Beaufort, Duke of Exeter 1420–1427
- Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester 1427–1440
- William de la Pole, 1st Duke of Suffolk 1440–1450
- Thomas Stanley, 1st Baron Stanley 1443–1459 (joint)
- John Talbot, 2nd Earl of Shrewsbury 1459–1460
- Thomas Stanley, 1st Earl of Derby 1461–?
- Richard, Duke of Gloucester 1471–?
- Sir Thomas Englefield 1505–1514?
- Sir Nicholas Hare 1540–1545
- Sir Robert Townshend 1545–1557
- Sir John Pollard 1557
- George Wood 1558
- John Throckmorton 1558–1578
- Sir George Bromley 1564–1589
- Richard Shuttleworth 1589–1592
- Sir Richard Lewknor 1592–1616
Chief and Puisne Justices of Chester
Offices abolished 1830
- Yates, Joseph Brooks (1856). The Rights and Jurisdiction of the County Palatine of Chester, the Earls Palatine, the Chamberlain, and Other Officers. Charles Simms & Co. Retrieved 4 May 2007.
- The Penny Cyclopedia of the Society for the Dissemination of Useful Knowledge, Volume XXVI. London: Charles Knight & Co. 1843. Retrieved 4 May 2007.