1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Hall, William Edward
HALL, WILLIAM EDWARD (1835-1894), English writer on international law, was the only child of William Hall, M.D., a descendant of a junior branch of the Halls of Dunglass, and of Charlotte, daughter of William Cotton, F.S.A. He was born on the 22nd of August 1835, at Leatherhead, Surrey, but passed his childhood abroad, Dr Hall having acted as physician to the king of Hanover, and subsequently to the British legation at Naples. Hence, perhaps, the son’s taste in after life for art and modern languages. He was educated privately till, at the early age of seventeen, he matriculated at Oxford, where in 1856 he took his degree with a first class in the then recently instituted school of law and history, gaining, three years afterwards, the chancellor’s prize for an essay upon “the effect upon Spain of the discovery of the precious metals in America.” In 1861 he was called to the bar at Lincoln’s Inn, but devoted his time less to any serious attempt to obtain practice than to the study of Italian art, and to travelling over a great part of Europe, always bringing home admirable water-colour drawings of buildings and scenery. He was an early and enthusiastic member of the Alpine Club, making several first ascents, notably that of the Lyskamm. He was always much interested in military matters, and was under fire, on the Danish side, in the war of 1864. In 1867 he published a pamphlet entitled “A Plan for the Reorganization of the Army,” and, many years afterwards, he saw as much as he was permitted to see of the expedition sent for the rescue of Gordon. He would undoubtedly have made his mark in the army, but in later life his ideal, which he realized, with much success, first at Llanfihangel in Monmouthshire, and then at Coker Court in Somersetshire, was, as has been said, “the English country gentleman, with cosmopolitan experiences, encyclopaedic knowledge, and artistic feeling.” His travels took him to Lapland, Egypt, South America and India. He had done good work for several government offices, in 1871 as inspector of returns under the Elementary Education Act, in 1877 by reports to the Board of Trade upon Oyster Fisheries, in France as well as in England; and all the time was amassing materials for ambitious undertakings upon the history of civilization, and of the colonies. His title to lasting remembrance rests, however, upon his labours in the realm of international law, recognized by his election as associé in 1875, and as membre in 1882, of the Institut de Droit International. In 1874 he published a thin 8vo upon the Rights and Duties of Neutrals, and followed it up in 1880 by his magnum opus, the Treatise on International Law, unquestionably the best book upon the subject in the English language. It is well planned, free from the rhetorical vagueness which has been the besetting vice of older books of a similar character, full of information, and everywhere bearing traces of the sound judgment and statesmanlike views of its author. In 1894 Hall published a useful monograph upon a little-explored topic, “the Foreign Jurisdictions of the British Crown,” but on the 30th of November of the same year, while apparently in the fullest enjoyment of bodily as well as mental vigour, he suddenly died. He married, in 1866, Imogen, daughter of Mr (afterwards Mr Justice) Grove, who died in 1886; and in 1891, Alice, daughter of Colonel Hill of Court Hill, Shropshire, but left no issue.
(T. E. H.)