Solicitor General for England and Wales

1461-1613

Her Majesty's Solicitor General for England and Wales, often known as the Solicitor General, is one of the Law Officers of the Crown, and the deputy of the Attorney General for England and Wales, whose duty is to advise the Crown and Cabinet on the law. He can exercise the powers of the Attorney General in the Attorney General's absence.

 Office Holder

Year
of
appointment

Richard Fowler   1461-1470
Richard Page   1470-1483
Thomas Lynom   1483-1485
Andrew Dimmock   1485-1503
Thomas Lucas   1503-1507
John Ernley   1507-1514
John Port his ancestors had been merchants for some generations : his father, Henry Port, was mayor of Chester in 1486, and his mother was a daughter of Robert Barrow, also a mayor of Chester in 1526. Sir John Port was involved in the trials of Thomas More, John Fisher and Anne Boleyn. 1514-1521
Richard Lyster he is mentioned with the title in the will of Cecily Marchioness of Dorset, dated 6 May, 1527; and as Christopher Hales was made attorney-general immediately after Lyster's elevation to the bench as chief baron of the Exchequer on 12 May 1529, apparently as his successor. On his promotion he was knighted and was named as a commissioner on the trials both of Bishop Fisher and Sir Thomas More; but he does not appear to have taken any prominent part in either. 1521-1525
Christopher Hales became attorney-general on 3 June 1529. During the seven years that he filled this office, he had to conduct the proceedings against several illustrious persons who had incurred the king's displeasure. He prosecuted Wolsey by an indictment to which the cardinal made no defence; he appeared for the king against Sir Thomas More and Bishop Fisher on their last arraignment; and the trials of Queen Anne Boleyn and those charged with being implicated with her occurred during the last few months of his official tenure; but history charges him with no harshness in performing the delicate duties thus devolving upon him. On the elevation of Thomas Cromwell to the office of Lord Privy Seal, Hales succeeded him as Master of the Rolls on 10 July 1536, and retained the place for the five remaining years of his life, having received the honour of knighthood soon after his appointment. 1525-1531
Baldwin Mallet   1531-1533
Richard Rich   1533-1536
William Whorwode   1536-1540
Henry Bradshaw   1540-1545
Edward Griffin   1545-1552
John Gosnel   1552-1553
William Cordell Master of the Rolls and Speaker of the House of Commons during the reign of Queen Mary I. Knighted 1558, member of Lincoln's Inn 1538, called to the bar 1544, bencher 1553, reader 1554, a founding member of the Russia Company, received a grant of arms for his father in 1548 and one for himself (quartering Webb) in 1549, Solicitor General to Mary I 1553, master of the rolls and a member of the privy council 1557, sat in five parliaments between 1545 and 1571, Speaker of the House of Commons 1558, executor to Queen Mary I, Cardinal Pole, and Archbishop Parker, founded a hospital; the Holy Trinity at Long Melford, first visitor and supporter of the foundation of St John's College, Oxford.

Cordell married Mary Clopton (d. 1584), the daughter of Richard Clopton of Groton. By his will it is found that he left charitable bequests to Cambridge and Oxford including £20 to be distributed among the poor scholars of the universities ‘unto suche as be moste towardes in vertewe and learninge’.

1553-1557
Richard Weston   1557-1559
William Rosewell son of William Rosewell (Rowswell) of Loxton, Somerset. He came to some prominence as Solicitor-General to Queen Elizabeth. He appears in the list of Queen’s Counsel between 1558-1603 as W. Ruswell and was Solicitor-General from 1 Feb 1559 until his death in 1566. Only two items have been found relative to his action while in office. With the Attorney-General, Garrard, he signed a note, concerning grants of privileges to the University of Cambridge, about 1561; and in 1563 he made a note of the grant of the advowson of Northchurch. He was succeeded by Richard Onslow.

He married Elizabeth Dale, widow of Gregory Isham of Braunston, Northamptonshire in about 1559. They left three children: Parry, William and Philippa. Parry died before he came of age. Philippa married Sir George Speke of Whitelackington, Somerset in 1584. The second son, William, was born in 1561 and inherited from Parry in 1573. William came into the possession of Forde Abbey, Devon in about 1581 and had one son, Sir Henry Rosewell.

William Rosewell, the Solicitor-General, possessed a large number of estates which, in several instances, he bought from those who had obtained the properties at the dissolution of the monasteries. At the time of his death he held the manors of Ermington and Carswell (Broadhembury) in Devon and the manors of Southbrent (Brent Knoll), Stapleton, Limington and Alford, in Somerset. His will is dated 10 Jun 1566 and it was probated 4 Nov 1567.

 

1559-1566
Richard Onslow lawyer who served as Solicitor General and Speaker of the House of Commons. (He was one of two Richard Onslows and three Onslows to be elected Speaker.) Onslow was a barrister and member of the Inner Temple, and Recorder of London in 1563. From 1557 to 1571 he was Member of Parliament for Steyning, a tiny borough in Sussex. His religious sympathies were with the Puritan party, and the Spanish ambassador described him as a "furious heretic".

In 1566 he was appointed Solicitor General, and was summoned to attend the House of Lords by a writ of assistance. However, later the same year the Speaker of the Commons died, and the Privy Council chose Onslow to succeed him. At this period the appointment was effectively a Crown nomination, though theoretically the House of Commons had a free choice; Onslow was the royal candidate but was opposed, the only occasion on which this happened during the Elizabethan period. As is the convention, Onslow spoke in opposition to his own appointment, and argued that the independence of the Speakership was incompatible with the Solicitor General's oath to the Queen; this gave his critics good excuse to oppose, but he was nevertheless eventually approved by 82 votes to 70, and became Speaker on 2 Oct 1566. He was Speaker for the remaining five years of his life.

1566-1569
Sir Thomas Bromley   1569-1579
Sir John Popham   1579-1581
Sir Thomas Egerton

Egerton,Thomas(1540-1617).jpg (45392 bytes)

As Solicitor General, Egerton became a frequent legal advocate for the crown, often arguing cases instead of the Attorney General. He was one of the prosecutors of Mary, Queen of Scots in 1586. He was also the prosecutor in the trial of Phillip Howard, Earl of Arundel, for high treason. He was made Attorney General on 2 Jun 1592, he was knighted the next year. He was made Master of the Rolls on 10 Apr 1594 where he excelled as an equity judge and became a patron of the young Francis Bacon. After the death of the Lord Keeper Puckering he was appointed Lord Keeper of the Great Seal and made a Privy Councillor on 6 May 1596, remaining Master of the Rolls and thus the sole judge in the Court of Chancery. During this time his first wife died, and he married a widow, Elizabeth Walley (née More) 1581-1592
Sir Edward Coke   1592-1594
Thomas Fleming called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn in 1574. He represented Winchester in parliament from 1584 to 1601, when he was returned for Southampton. In 1594 he was appointed recorder of London, and in 1595 was chosen solicitor-general in preference to Francis Bacon. This office he retained under James I and was knighted in 1603. In 1604 he was created chief baron of the exchequer and presided over many important state trials.

In 1607 he was promoted to the chief justiceship of the king's bench, and was one of the judges at the trial of the post nati in 1608, siding with the majority of the judges in declaring that persons born in Scotland after the accession of James I were entitled to the privileges of natural-born subjects in England.

He purchased the North Stoneham estate from the young Earl of Southampton who inherited the title and estate at the age of eight

He was praised by his contemporaries, more particularly Coke, for his great judgments, integrity and discretion. He died on 7 Aug 1613 at his seat, Stoneham Park, Hampshire.

 

1595-1604
Sir John Doderidge   1604-1607
Sir Francis Bacon   1607-1613
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