Dictionary of National Biography, 1901 supplement/Kay, Edward Ebenezer

KAY, Sir EDWARD EBENEZER (1822–1897), judge, fourth son of Robert Kay of Brookshaw, Bury, Lancashire, by Hannah, daughter of James Phillips of Birmingham [cf. Kay-Shuttleworth, Sir James; and Kay, Joseph, was born on 2 July 1822. He was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. in 1844, and proceeded M.A. in 1847. He was admitted on 22 April 1844 student at Lincoln's Inn, where he was called to the bar on 8 June 1847, and elected bencher on 11 Jan. 1867, and treasurer in 1888. Like Lord Blackburn and some other eminent judges, it was in the capacity of a reporter that Kay learned his law (see infra), and it was but slowly that by dint rather of industry and perseverance than brilliance he acquired one of the largest practices ever possessed by a stuff-gownsman. He took silk in 1866, and after enjoying a prolonged lead in Vice-chancellor Bacon's court, confined his practice to the House of Lords and privy council (1878). On the retirement of Vice-chancellor Malins in 1881, Kay was appointed (30 March) justice of the high court (chancery division) and knighted (2 May). He proved a strong judge, a sworn foe to lucrative abuses and dilatory proceedings, and as competent on circuit as in chambers. On 10 Nov. 1890 he succeeded Sir Henry Cotton [q.v. Suppl.] as lord-justice of appeal. His tenure of this office was abridged by a painful disorder which, after frequently laying him aside, compelled his retirement at the commencement of Hilary term 1897 not, however, before he had given proof of unusual independence of mind.

He died at his town house, 37 Hyde Park Gardens, on 16 March 1897. His remains were interred (23 March) in the churchyard at Brockdish, near Scole, Norfolk, in which parish his seat, Thorpe Abbotts, was situate. He married, on 2 April 1850, Mary Valence (d. 1889), youngest daughter of Dr. William French, master (1820-49) of Jesus College, Cambridge, by whom he left issue two daughters. In her memory Kay founded several divinity scholarships at Jesus College.

Kay was author of 'Reports of Cases adjudged in the High Court of Chancery before Sir William Page Wood, Knight, Vice-chancellor, 1853-4,' London, 1854, 8vo, continued in conjunction with Henry P. Vaughan Johnson to the close of the year 1858; in all 5 volumes, 8vo.

[Grad. Cant.; Foster's Men at the Bar; Lincoln's Inn Adm. Reg.; Law List, 1848, 1867, 1868; Times, 17 March 1897; Law Journ. 20 and 27 March 1897; Ann. Reg. 1897, ii. 145; Vanity Fair, 28 Aug. 1886, 7 Jan. 1888; Whitehall Rev. 27 March 1897; Men and Women of the Time, 1895; Burke's Peerage, 1896; Law Reports, Appeal Cases, 1891, Memoranda.]

J. M. R.