Page:Dictionary of National Biography, Second Supplement, volume 2.djvu/172

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Grantham
Grantham
152

he obtained in January 1863 the studentship given by the council of legal education, and was called to the bar on the 26th of the same month. Choosing the south-eastern circuit, a good local connection in Sussex aided him at the start, and his pleasant manner, combined with courage, pertinacity, and great industry, soon secured him a steady practice. He obtained the reputation of being 'a very useful junior in an action on a builder's account, in a running-down case, in a compensation case, and especially in disputes in which a combined knowledge of law and horseflesh was desirable.' He took silk on 13 Feb. 1877, and was made a bencher of his Inn on 30 April 1880, serving the office of treasurer in 1904.

As a leader Grantham achieved considerable success on circuit, but in London he failed to make any conspicuous mark. His real and absorbing interest was in politics; a conservative of the most orthodox school, gifted with an excellent platform manner and considerable rhetorical power, Grantham took a prominent part in the conversion to tory democracy of the working-men of London and the home counties. At the general election of February 1874 he was returned together with James Watney for East Surrey by a large majority, which he substantially increased in April 1880. After the redistribution of seats in 1885 he was selected to contest the borough of Croydon, carved out of his old constituency, and although the seat was regarded by the local conservatives as a forlorn hope, he defeated his liberal opponent, Mr. Jabez Balfour, by over 1000 votes. There was no more accomplished or successful electioneer in the south of England, and his services were widely in request as a platform speaker. By the death of his elder brother George in 1880 he had become squire of Barcombe and lord of the manor of Camois Court, a position which gave him additional prestige in 'the country party.' He became deputy chairman and eventually chairman of the East Sussex quarter sessions. In parliament he was a fairly frequent speaker, with a special mission to unmask and defeat the machinations of Gladstone; he was conspicuous among the militant spirits on the conservative benches. In January 1886, before he had the opportunity of taking his seat on his re-election for Croydon, he was made a judge of the Queen's Bench Division, in succession to Sir Henry Lopes [q. v. Suppl. I], and was knighted. It was Lord Halsbury's first judicial appointment, and there were many conflicting claims among conservative lawyers. In 'Whitaker's Almanack' for 1886 the name of Sir John Gorst, then solicitor-general, was printed among the judges instead of that of Grantham.

On the bench he showed himself indefatigable and painstaking, and he never failed to clear his list on circuit. He was shrewd in his judgment of character, had a varied assortment of general knowledge, and his manly, downright ways made a favourable impression on juries. He had a competent knowledge of law for the ordinary work of nisi prius, and his industry and energy made a strong contrast to the methods of some of his colleagues. But he lacked the breadth of mind and the grasp of intellect necessary for trying great and complicated issues, and he was a very unsatisfactory judge in commercial cases. Among his failings was an inability to refrain from perpetual comment; his 'obiter dicta' brought him into collision at one time or another with nearly every class of the community—deans, publicans, chairmen of quarter sessions, the council of the bar, the Durham pitmen, his brother judges. His love of talking was not conducive to the dignity of the bench, and towards the close of his career he was given strong hints in the press that the public interest would be best served by his retirement.

In the spring of 1906 Grantham found himself on the rota of judges appointed to try election petitions, a task for which his strong and somewhat intemperate political views rendered him peculiarly unfit. His decisions at Bodmin, at Maidstone, and at Great Yarmouth, all of which favoured the conservative claims to the seats, caused much dissatisfaction. On 6 July 1906 a motion to take into consideration his proceedings at Yarmouth was introduced into the House of Commons by Mr. Swift MacNeill, nationalist M.P. for South Donegal. Grantham was severely criticised and as strongly defended. At the suggestion of the prime minister, Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, the house declined 'to take the first step in a course which must lead to nothing less than the removal of the judge from the bench.' Grantham felt the stigma deeply, but was unwise enough to revive the memory of the debate, some five years later (7 Feb. 1911), by an indiscreet speech to the grand jury at Liverpool, which brought upon him in the House of Commons from Mr. Asquith, the prime minister, the severest rebuke which has