Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Burke, Edmund Plunkett

1323941Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 07 — Burke, Edmund Plunkett1886John Andrew Hamilton

BURKE, EDMUND PLUNKETT (1802–1835), judge, was born of Irish parents at Lisbon in 1802, and, being brought to England at an early age, was, till his fifteenth year, educated at home or by Dr. Robertson, a schoolmaster of some repute. At fifteen he was placed in the Lycée at Caen, Normandy, where during three years he greatly distinguished himself. He was then entered at Caius College; Cambridge, but, disliking mathematics, did not proceed to a degree, and devoted his great talents to the study of civil law. While still an undergraduate he wrote his ‘Essay on the Laws and Government of Rome; introductory to the Civil Law,’ a work which if not erudite, for he was ignorant of German, was surprising for his years and excited great attention at Cambridge. In 1830 he published a second edition with his name. He joined the Inner Temple and was called to the bar, but his private means being lost by the imprudence of a relation, he was too poor to buy books or pay fees for reading in counsel's chambers, and too proud to seek aid of his friends. Though diligent he was unsystematic, and made little legal progress. He wrote biographical notices for the ‘Law Magazine,’ but even here, though his research was extensive, his dilatory habits stood in his way. In 1832, on the reputation of his book and his knowledge of French, he was appointed to a judgeship in St. Lucia, West Indies, and in 1833 the governor, General Farquhar, made him judge of the admiralty court. He died in 1835 of an injury received during a hurricane in St. Dominica.

[Law Magazine, xiii. 532.]

J. A. H.