Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Walton, Joseph

WALTON, Sir JOSEPH (1845–1910), judge, born in Liverpool on 25 Sept. 1845, was eldest son of Joseph Walton of Fazakerley, Lancashire, by his wife Winifred Cowley. His parents were Roman catholics. After being educated at St. Francis Xavier's College, Salisbury Street, and the Jesuit College at Stonyhurst, he passed to London University, and graduated in 1865 with first-class honours in mental and moral science. In the same year he entered Lincoln's Inn, where he was called to the bar on 17 Nov. 1868, and was made a bencher in 1896. Walton, who joined the northern circuit, entered the chambers of Charles (afterwards Lord) Russell [q. v. Suppl. I], then one of the leading juniors, and practised for several years as a ‘local’ at Liverpool. His chief work was in commercial and shipping cases, but his name is also associated with other important actions. A Roman catholic as well as a distinguished advocate, Walton was retained in the actions brought successfully in the interest of Roman catholic children against Thomas John Barnardo [q. v. Suppl. II]. Walton took a leading part in two cases which attracted considerable public interest. Having succeeded Sir Charles Russell as leading counsel to the Jockey Club, he appeared in Powell v. Kempton Park Racecourse Company ([1899] Appeal Court 143), which defined a ‘place’ within the meaning of the Betting Act, 1853, and in the copyright case of Walter v. Lane ([1900] Appeal Court 539), arising out of the republication of reports from ‘The Times’ of speeches by Lord Rosebery which decided that there is copyright in the report of a speech.

Walton's advancement in the profession was slow. He took silk in 1892, and became recorder of Wigan in 1895; but the general esteem in which he was held was shown by his election in 1899 to be chairman of the general council of the bar. Upon the appointment in 1901 of Sir James Mathew to be a lord justice, Walton succeeded him as a judge of the king's bench, and was knighted. His wide experience of commercial matters was of service to the commercial court, but on the whole his work as a judge did not fulfil expectation, though in judicial demeanour he was above criticism. He was interested in the work of the Medico-Legal Society, of which he became second president in 1905. He died suddenly at his country residence at Shinglestreet, near Woodbridge, on 12 Aug. 1910, having taken, in the previous week, an active part in the proceedings of the International Law Association in London. He was buried in the Roman catholic cemetery, Kensal Green.

In all that concerned the social and educational movements of the church of which he was a member Walton took an active part, and for a time was a member of the Liverpool school board. Much of his leisure was spent in yachting, and he was a frequent prize-winner at the Oxford and Aldeburgh regattas. He wrote a small work on the ‘Practice and Procedure of the Court of Common Pleas at Lancaster’ (1870), and was one of the editors of the ‘Annual Practice of the Supreme Court’ for 1884–5 and 1885–6.

He married on 12 Sept. 1871 Teresa, fourth daughter of Nicholas D'Arcy of Ballyforan, co. Roscommon, by whom he had eight sons and one daughter. A younger son, Louis Alban, second lieutenant, royal Lancaster regiment, died of enteric fever at Naauwpoort on 19 May 1901, aged twenty.

His portrait by Hudson was presented to him by old school friends, and is in the possession of Lady Walton. A caricature portrait by ‘Spy’ appeared in ‘Vanity Fair’ in 1902.

[The Times, 15 and 18 Aug. 1910; Foster Men at the Bar; Law Journal, 20 Aug. 1910; Trans. Medico-Legal Soc. vol. vii.; private information.]

C. E. A. B.