William Pickford, 1st Baron Sterndale

The Right Honourable
The Lord Sterndale
Master of the Rolls
In office
3 November 1919  7 August 1923
Preceded by The Lord Swinfen
Succeeded by Sir Ernest Pollock
Personal details
Born William Pickford
1 October 1848
Died 17 August 1923
King Sterndale, Derbyshire
Nationality British
Spouse(s) Alice Mary Brooke (d. 1884)
Alma mater Exeter College, Oxford
Profession Barrister, judge

William Pickford, 1st Baron Sterndale PC (1 October 1848 – 7 August 1923) was a British lawyer and judge. He served as a Lord Justice of Appeal between 1914 and 1918, as President of the Probate, Divorce and Admiralty Division between 1918 and 1919 and as Master of the Rolls between 1919 and 1923.

Background and education

Pickford was born in Manchester, son of the Manchester merchant Thomas Edward Pickford and his wife, Georgina, daughter of Jeremiah Todd-Naylor. He was educated at Liverpool College and went to Exeter College, Oxford in 1867. He entered the Inner Temple in 1871, reading under Thomas Henry Baylis, and was called to the bar in 1874. Going the Northern Circuit, he had chambers in Liverpool.[1]

As a junior Pickford appeared in the trial of Florence Maybrick. He took silk in 1893. He was made Recorder of Oldham in 1901, and then of Liverpool in 1904. He also represented the British government in 1905, in the enquiry after the Dogger Bank incident when Russia sunk some Hull trawlers.[1]

Pickford was appointed a judge of the High Court in 1907 and a Lord Justice of Appeal and sworn of the Privy Council in 1914.[2] In 1916 he was chairman of the Dardanelles Commission.[3] He was made President of the Probate, Divorce and Admiralty Division and raised to the peerage as Baron Sterndale, of King Sterndale in the County of Derby, in 1918.[4] The following year he became Master of the Rolls, a post he held until his death.


Lord Sterndale married Alice Mary Brooke, of Sibton Park Suffolk, on 18 August 1880. They had two daughters, Dorothy Frances Pickford (b. 1881) and Mary (Molly) Ada Pickford (b. 1884). His wife Alice died after childbirth on 5 September 1884. Sterndale's daughter the Hon. Mary Ada Pickford sat as Conservative Member of Parliament for Hammersmith North from 1931 to 1934. Lord Sterndale died in August 1923, aged 74, when the barony became extinct. He is buried at King Sterndale Church near Buxton, Derbyshire.


  1. 1 2 Mooney, Hugh. "Pickford, William". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/35525. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. The London Gazette: no. 28831. p. 3909. 15 May 1914.
  3. From: 'Appendix 1', Office-Holders in Modern Britain: Volume 10: Officials of Royal Commissions of Inquiry 1870-1939 (1995), pp. 85-8. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=16611. Date accessed: 12 August 2007.
  4. The London Gazette: no. 31013. p. 13492. 15 November 1918.
Legal offices
Preceded by
Sir Samuel Evans
President of the Probate, Divorce and Admiralty Division
Succeeded by
Sir Henry Duke
Preceded by
Sir Charles Swinfen Eady
Master of the Rolls
Succeeded by
Sir Ernest Pollock
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baron Sterndale
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