Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Sleigh, William Campbell

SLEIGH, WILLIAM CAMPBELL (1818–1887), serjeant-at-law, eldest son of William Willcocks Sleigh, M.D., of Bull House, Buckinghamshire, and subsequently of Dublin, was born in Dublin in 1818. He matriculated from St. Mary Hall, Oxford, on 9 Feb. 1843, but took no degree. He was entered as a student of the Middle Temple on 18 Jan. 1843, and on 30 Jan. 1846 he was called to the bar. He went the home circuit, attended the central criminal court, and the London, Middlesex, and Kent sessions. On 2 Nov. 1868 he was created a serjeant-at-law, being the last person not a judge received into Serjeants' Inn. Like his fellow-serjeants Parry, Ballantine, and Huddleston (afterwards Baron Huddleston), he enjoyed a lucrative practice at the Old Bailey, and took part in many leading criminal trials, being a most effective cross-examiner. In 1871 he accepted the first brief for the claimant Arthur Orton, alias Roger Tichborne, in his civil action. He was long retained as leading counsel to the Bank of England, Hardinge Giffard (now Lord Halsbury) being his junior. As a conservative he unsuccessfully contested Lambeth 5 May 1862, Huddersfield 20 March 1868, Frome 17 Nov. 1868, and Newark 1 April 1870. In 1877 he emigrated to Australia, and on 21 March of that year was called to the bar of Victoria; but his claim to precedence as a serjeant-at-law was not allowed. He continued to practise in Melbourne until 1886, when he returned to England. He died at Ventnor, Isle of Wight, on 23 Jan. 1887.

Among his publications were:

  1. ‘Marriage with a Deceased Wife's Sister,’ 1850.
  2. ‘The Grand Jury System subversive of the Moral Interests of Society,’ 1852.
  3. ‘A Handy Book on Criminal Law, applicable chiefly to Commercial Transactions,’ 1858.
  4. ‘Personal Wrongs and Legal Remedies,’ 1860.

[Law Times, 12 Feb. 1887, p. 274; Robinson's Bench and Bar, 1889, pp. 112, 298; private information.]

G. C. B.