1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Eyre, Sir James

21676361911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 10 — Eyre, Sir James

EYRE, SIR JAMES (1734–1799), English judge, was the son of the Rev. Thomas Eyre, of Wells, Somerset. He was educated at Winchester College and at St John’s College, Oxford, which, however, he left without taking a degree. He was called to the bar at Gray’s Inn in 1755, and commenced practice in the lord mayor’s and sheriffs’ courts, having become by purchase one of the four counsel to the corporation of London. He was appointed recorder of London in 1763. He was counsel for the plaintiff in the case of Wilkes v. Wood, and made a brilliant speech in condemnation of the execution of general search warrants. His refusal to voice the remonstrances of the corporation against the exclusion of Wilkes from parliament earned him the recognition of the ministry, and he was appointed a judge of the exchequer in 1772. From June 1792 to January 1793 he was chief commissioner of the great seal. In 1793 he was made chief justice of the common pleas, and presided over the trials of Horne Tooke, Thomas Crosfield and others, with great ability and impartiality. He died on the 1st of July 1799 and was buried at Ruscombe, Berkshire.

See Howell, State Trials, xix. (1154–1155); Foss, Lives of the Judges.