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Richard Everard Webster

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Richard Everard Webster (1842-1915)

1916 Obituary [1]

The Right Hon. RICHARD EVERARD WEBSTER, VISCOUNT ALVERSTONE, G.C.M.G., P.C., LL.D. (Cantab.), late Lord Chief Justice of England, died at Cranleigh, Surrey, on the 15th December, 1915.

Born on the 22nd December, 1842, he was the second son of the late Mr. Thomas Webster, Q.C., who was the first Secretary and subsequently Honorary Secretary of The Institution, with which both father and son were thus identified.

Richard Webster was educated at King’s College, London, and Charterhouse, and at Trinity College, Cambridge. Taking his degree in 1865, he was called to the Bar in Lincoln’s Inn in 1868, and ten years later was made Queen’s Counsel.

From the earliest years of his distinguished career at the Bar, he became intimately associated with the Parliamentary and legal side of engineering enterprise, particularly in railway matters, and his thorough grasp of the principles of mechanical science and keen interest in their practical applications, an aptitude inherited from his father, rendered his work in this field especially notable. He entered Parliament in 1885, and immediately afterwards became Attorney-General.

In October, 1900, after serving a few months as Master of the Rolls, he became Lord Chief Justice in succession to Lord Russell of Killowen. He served his country in many important commissions, including the Behring Sea arbitration, the Venezuela dispute, and the Alaska Boundary Commission; was made a G.C.M.G. in 1893, a baronet in 1899, and was raised to the peerage in the following year.

On his retirement, he was created a Viscount. Despite many and onerous preoccupations, Lord Alverstone retained to the last his interest in the work of The Institution, and was a frequent speaker at its annual dinners.

He was elected an Associate on the 4th December, 1883; and on the 5th March, 1901, he was elected an Honorary Member, “because, during his distinguished career at the Bar, he has gained the respect and esteem of the members of this Institution, the best interests of which, during his long attachment to it as an Associate, have uniformly received his support.”

1916 Obituary [2]

RICHARD EVERARD WEBSTER, VISCOUNT ALVERSTONE, G.C.M.G., born on the 22nd December, 1842, was the second son of Thomas Webster, one of the founders of the Society of Arts.

He was educated at King's College, London, at Charterhouse, and at Trinity College, Cambridge.

In 1868 he was called to the Bar and soon obtained a large practice, devoting himself more particularly to railway work and patents.

In 1885 he entered Parliament as member for Launceston. This town shortly afterwards ceasing to be a Parliamentary borough, he successfully contested the Isle of Wight and sat for that constituency for 15 years. He was made Attorney-General soon after entering Parliament and held that office from 1885 to 1892 and from 1895 to 1900. In the last-mentioned year he was appointed Master of the Rolls, becoming in October of the same year Lord Chief Justice of England.

During his Parliamentary career and whilst on the Bench he was engaged in many important cases, among others, the Behring Sea Arbitration in 1893, the Transvaal raid of 1896, the Venezuela dispute in 1899, and the arbitration between the United States and Great Britain to determine the boundaries of Alaska. In recent years he took a prominent part in the Court of Criminal Appeal, over which he usually presided.

In 1899 he was made a baronet, and in June 1900 he was raised to the peerage, being afterwards created a Viscount on his retirement in 1913.

He died on the 15th December, 1915, at Cranleigh, Surrey.

He was elected a Member of the Institution in 1891.

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