Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Barnardiston, Thomas (d.1752)

BARNARDISTON, THOMAS (d. 1752), legal reporter, was educated at the Middle Temple, and created a serjeant-at-law 3 June 1735. He died 14 Oct. 1752, and was buried on the 20th at Chelsea.

His reports in Chancery were published in folio, 1740, 1741, and 1742; and his ‘Reports of Cases adjudged in the King's Bench,’ from 12 Geo. I to 7 Geo. II, were published in 2 vols. folio in 1744. Sir James Burrow asserts that ‘Lord Mansfield absolutely forbid the citing of Barnardiston's reports in Chancery, for that it would only be misleading students to put them upon reading it (sic). He said it was marvellous, however, to those who knew the serjeant and his manner of taking notes, that he should so often stumble upon what was right, but that there was not one case in his book which was so throughout.’ And Lord Lyndhurst remarks: ‘I recollect in my younger days it was said of Barnardiston that he was accustomed to slumber over his note-book, and the wags in his rear took the opportunity of scribbling nonsense in it.’ Lord Manners, on the other hand, said on one occasion: ‘Although Barnardiston is not considered a very correct reporter, yet some of his cases are very accurately reported;’ and Lord Eldon, in reference to the same work, observed: ‘I take the liberty of saying that in that book there are reports of very great authority.’ A comparison of the volumes with the registrar's book has proved that Barnardiston for the most part correctly reported the decisions of the court. His reports have a peculiar value from the fact of their containing the decisions of the great Lord Hardwicke.

Barnardiston's King's Bench reports also have been repeatedly denounced, and yet they are frequently cited.

[Faulkner's Chelsea, ii. 136; Clarke's Bibliotheca Legum, 348; Bridgman's Legal Bibliography, 12; Stevens and Hayne's Bibliotheca Legum, 9; Woolrych's Serjeants-at-Law, ii. 537; Burrow's King's Bench Reports, ii. 1142 n.; Marvin's Legal Bibliography, 94; Wallace's Reporters, 261, 322; Notes and Queries, 4th ser. i. 580; Gent. Mag. xxii. 478; Bromley's Cat. of Engr. Portraits, 285.]

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