Page:Dictionary of National Biography, Second Supplement, volume 2.djvu/481

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Lewis
Lewis
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which by adroit handling he kept out of court, largely to the benefit of all concerned. He possessed an unrivalled knowledge of the past records of the criminals and adventurers of both sexes, not only in England and on the continent of Europe, but in the United States, which was peculiarly serviceable to him and to his clients in resisting attempts at conspiracy and blackmail. It has been said of him that 'he was not so much a lawyer as a shrewd private inquiry agent; audacious, playing the game often in defiance of the rules, and relying on his audacity to carry him through.' 'For a trial,' wrote Mr. Smalley, who knew him well, 'he prepared with a thoroughness which left no opening for surprise. He had methods of investigation which were his own, and intuitions beside which the rather mechanical processes of Sherlock Holmes seemed the efforts of a beginner.' These qualities were never more conspicuously exhibited than in the proceedings before the Parnell commission in 1888-9, where he represented the majority of the incriminated nationalists, and where he laid the train which resulted in the exposure of the forgeries of Richard Pigott [q. v.].

Lewis's extraordinary memory for detail enabled him to reduce written notes to a minimum, and some time before his death he declared that he had destroyed all record of his strange experiences. It was impossible to lead such a life without incurring much fierce resentment, and the causes he championed were not always those of right and justice; but he was the author of many acts of great kindness and generosity, and he was a staunch and loyal friend. Wealthy and hospitable, he was a familiar figure in the artistic and theatrical world, and there was no phase of society with which his professional experience had not, at one time or another, brought him into touch. Though a Jew by birth, a fact of which he was conspicuously proud, and having enjoyed few advantages as a young man, George Lewis became a familiar figure in very exalted circles and was one of those admitted to the intimacy of King Edward VII, by whom he was made a Companion of the Victorian Order in 1905. In 1892 he was knighted, in recognition, it was supposed, of his services in connection with the Parnell commission. On the coronation of King Edward VII in 1902 he obtained a baronetcy.

In the later years of his life Lewis was active in promoting certain much needed reforms in the criminal law. He was a strong advocate of the Prisoners' Evidence Act of 1898, by which prisoners and their wives were made competent witnesses in criminal as well as in civil cases, as well as of the court of criminal appeal created in 1908. His practice had made him acquainted with every phase of conjugal unhappiness, and he proved a highly illuminating witness before the royal commission appointed in 1909 to inquire into the working of the divorce laws. He argued in favour of equal rights for both sexes, of the cheapening of procedure, and of the establishment of local divorce courts. He contributed also to the movement which led to the Moneylenders Act of 1900, intended to put a curb upon usurious extortion.

Lewis died, after a prolonged illness, at his house in Portland Place, on 7 Dec. 1911, and was buried at the Jewish cemetery, Willesden; he had done very little professional work for some years before his death. He was married twice: (1) in 1863 to Victorine, daughter of Philip Kann of Frankfort-on-Maine; she died in 1865, leaving a daughter; (2) in 1867 to Elizabeth, daughter of Ferdinand Eberstadt of Mannheim, by whom he had two daughters and one son, George James Graham, who succeeded him in the baronetcy and as head of the firm of Lewis & Lewis. A portrait in oils by John S. Sargent, R.A., was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1896. A cartoon portrait by 'Spy' appeared in 'Vanity Fair' in 1896.

[The Times, 8 Dec. 1911; the New York Daily Tribune, 31 Dec. 1911 (article by George W. Smalley); Burke's Baronetage; private information.]

J. B. A.


LEWIS, JOHN TRAVERS (1825–1901), archbishop of Ontario, born on 20 June 1825, at Garrycloyne Castle, Cork, the seat of his great-uncle on the mother's side, John Travers, was son of John Lewis, curate of St. Ann's, Shandon, Cork, of Welsh descent, by his wife Rebecca Olivia, daughter of John Lawless of Kilerone, Cloyne. Educated at Hambin and Porter's School, Cork, he entered Trinity College, Dublin, winning the first Hebrew prize, and graduating B.A. in 1848 as senior moderator and gold medallist in ethics and logic. Ordained deacon in 1848, and priest in 1849, he visited Canada in the latter year and settled there for life. He first received charge of the mission at West Hawkesbury in the Ottawa Valley. In 1864 ha was appointed to the rectory of St. Peter's,