Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Waley, Jacob

WALEY, JACOB (1818–1873), legal writer, born in 1818, was elder son of Solomon Jacob Waley (d. 1864) of Stockwell, and afterwards of 22 Devonshire Place, London, by his wife, Rachel Hort. Simon Waley Waley [q. v.] was his younger brother. He was educated at Mr. Neumegen's school at Highgate, and University College, London, and he graduated B.A. at London University in 1839, taking the first place in both mathematics and classics. He was entered as a student at Lincoln's Inn on 3 Nov. 1837, and was called to the bar on 21 Nov. 1842. Only three Jews had been called to the bar previously, (Sir) Francis Henry Goldsmid [q. v.] being the first. Waley practised as an equity draughtsman, and in time became recognised as one of the most learned conveyancers in the profession. Although conveyancers rarely appear before court, Waley was several times summoned in cases of particular difficulty relating to real property. He acted as conveyancing counsel for the Bedford estates, and, in conjunction with Thomas Cooke Wright and C. D. Wright, edited ‘Davidson's Precedents and Forms in Conveyancing’ (London, 1855–65, 5 vols. 8vo). In 1870 he was appointed one of the conveyancing counsel of the court of chancery. In 1867 he was nominated a member of the royal commission to consider the law on the transfer of real property, and he had a large share in framing the report on which was based the lord chancellor's bill passed in 1874.

Notwithstanding his mastery of his own subject, Waley had numerous other interests. He was known as a political economist, acting as examiner for the university of London, and in 1853–4 he was appointed professor of that subject at University College. He held the post until 1865–6, when the press of other work compelled his resignation, and he received the title of emeritus professor. He was also, until his death, joint secretary of the Political Economy Club.

Waley was a prominent member of the Jewish community. In conjunction with Lionel Louis Cohen he organised the London synagogues into a corporate congregational alliance, known as the ‘United Synagogue.’ On the formation of the Anglo-Jewish Association he was chosen the first president, a post which lack of time compelled him later to resign. He was also president of the Jews' orphan asylum and a member of the council of the Jews' college, where he occasionally lectured. He promoted the Hebrew Literary Society, and assisted to organise the Jewish board of guardians. He took much interest in the treatment of Jews abroad, and in 1872 wrote a brief preface to Mr. Israel Davis's ‘Jews in Roumania,’ in which he remonstrated against the persecutions his countrymen were undergoing. He died in London on 19 June 1873, and was buried in West Ham cemetery. Waley married, on 28 July 1847, Matilda, third daughter of Joseph Salomons, by his wife Rebecca, sister of Sir Moses Haim Montefiore [q. v.] He left several children.

[Jewish Chronicle, 27 June and 4 July 1873; Law Times, 12 July 1873; Lincoln's Inn Records, ii. 179.]

E. I. C.