The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

William Bovill M.P.

William Bovill M.P.

A carte-de-visite portrait of William Bovill (1814-1873), the Member of Parliament for Guildford and distinguished barrister, later a judge.

Born at Barking on 26 May 1814, the younger son of Benjamin Bovill of Wimbledon, London, on leaving school he was articled to a firm of solicitors, but entering the Middle Temple, he practised for a short time as a special pleader below the bar. He was called in 1841 and joined the home circuit. His special training in a solicitor’s office, and its resulting connection, combined with a thorough knowledge of the details of engineering, acquired through his interest in a manufacturing firm in London’s East End, soon brought him a very extensive patent and commercial business.

He took silk in 1855 and in 1857 was elected Member of Parliament for Guildford. In the House of Commons he was very zealous for legal reform, and the Partnership Law Amendment Act (1865), which he helped to steer through the House, is always referred to as Bovill’s Act. In 1866 he was appointed solicitor-general, an office he vacated on becoming chief justice of the common pleas in November of the same year.

Sir William Bovill died at Kingston-upon-Thames on 1 November 1873. According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1911), ‘As a barrister, he was unsurpassed for his remarkable knowledge of commercial law; and when promoted to the bench his painstaking labour and unswerving uprightness, as well as his great patience and courtesy, gained for him the respect and affection of the profession.’

Photographed by Camille Silvy of London on 12 February 1861.


Code: 124634
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