Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Hughes, Henry George

HUGHES, HENRY GEORGE (1810–1872), Irish judge, born in Dublin on 22 Aug. 1810, was eldest son of James Hughes, solicitor, of Dublin, by his wife Margaret, daughter of Trevor Stannus Morton of Dublin,solicitor. Hughes received his early education at a private school in Jervis Street, Dublin, and subsequently entered Trinity College, but did not proceed to a degree. In Hilary term 1830 he was admitted a student of the King's Inns, Dublin, and in Trinity term 1832 of Gray's Inn, London; he was called to the Irish bar in Michaelmas term 1834.

Hughes devoted himself almost exclusively to the chancery courts, and in 1837 published a ‘Chancery Practice,’ which had a considerable success. He rapidly acquired an extensive practice, and was specially known for his complete mastery of all the details of chancery procedure, then much more complicated than at present. In 1844 he took silk, and as a leader continued to enjoy a very large practice, especially in the rolls court. In 1850 he was appointed by Lord John Russell solicitor–general for Ireland, and held that office till the fall of Lord John's government in 1852. During this period the Ecclesiastical Titles Act was passed, and Hughes as a Roman catholic incurred some unpopularity with the more zealous of his co-religionists from his connection with the government. He nevertheless received the support of the Roman catholic bishop and clergy when he unsuccessfully contested Cavan in 1855. In 1856 he was returned for Longford, but did not secure re-election at the general election of 1857. In 1858 he was again solicitor-general for Ireland in Lord Palmerston's administration, and in 1859, on the return of Lord Palmerston to power, was appointed a baron of the court of exchequer in succession to Baron Richards. On the bench Hughes was one of the rare instances of a chancery lawyer making a successful common law judge. He continued a member of the court of exchequer till his death on 22 July 1872.

In 1836 he married Sarah Isabella, daughter of Major Francis L'Estrange. Two daughters survived him, the elder now the wife of Lord Morris (lord of appeal); the younger the wife of Mr. Edward Fitzgerald of Fitz William Place, Dublin.

[Annual Register, 1872; Life of Frederick Lucas, London, 1886, ii. 197; information from the family.]

J. D. F.