their Adherents,’ 2 vols. 8vo, 1845. 7. ‘London, a Fragmentary Poem,’ post 8vo, 1847. 8. ‘Literary and Historical Memorials of London’ [1st ser.], 2 vols. 8vo, 1847; [2nd ser.] ‘London and its Celebrities,’ 2 vols. 8vo, 1850. 9. ‘Memoirs of Richard the Third and some of his Contemporaries, with an Historical Drama on the Battle of Bosworth,’ 8vo, 1862. 10. ‘Memoirs of the Life and Reign of George the Third,’ 3 vols. 8vo, 1867. 11. ‘London: its Celebrated Characters and Remarkable Places’ [new edition of No. 8], 3 vols. post 8vo, 1871. 12. ‘Memoirs of Celebrated Etonians,’ 2 vols. 8vo, 1875.
[Annual Register, p. 158; Athenæum, 1874, ii. 82; Sylvanus Redivivus, by Mrs. Houstoun (Jesse's sister), 1889; personal recollections.]
JESSEL, Sir GEORGE (1824–1883), master of the rolls, youngest son of Zadok Aaron Jessel of Savile Row, London, and of Putney, a substantial Jewish merchant, was born in London on 13 Feb. 1824. He was educated at Mr. Neumegen's school for Jews at Kew and afterwards at University College, London, matriculating at the university of London in 1840. On 15 April 1842 he was admitted a student of Lincoln's Inn; in 1843 he graduated B.A. at the university of London, taking honours in mathematics, natural philosophy, vegetable physiology, and structural botany, and a prize in the two latter subjects; in 1844 he proceeded M.A., with the gold medal in mathematics and natural philosophy; and in 1846 he was elected to a fellowship at University College. On 4 May 1847 he was called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn, and at once took spacious chambers in Stone Buildings, which he retained until his elevation to the bench. He was a pupil of E. J. Lloyd (afterwards Q.C.); of the eminent conveyancer, Peter Bellinger Brodie [q. v.]; and of Mr. (afterwards Sir) Barnes Peacock [q. v.] He quickly obtained a fair share of practice, both as a conveyancer and in the rolls court, making 52 guineas in his first year, 346 guineas in his second, and 795 guineas in his third. His rise was in no way due to Jewish interest; his start was given him by the firm of Budd & Hayes (now Budd, Son, & Brodie), to which he was introduced by his friend and fellow-pupil (afterwards his chief secretary), George Thomas Jenkins. His professional income soon reached the figure of 1,000l., at which it remained stationary for some years. While still young he visited Turkey and America.
Gradually Jessel acquired the position of leading junior in the rolls court, and in 1861 he applied for silk, which Lord Westbury refused him, nor did he obtain it until four years later. The delay was, as he afterwards acknowledged, rather to his advantage than not, as it enabled him to acquire a far more minute knowledge of chancery practice than he would otherwise have done. On taking silk he was elected a bencher of his inn, 19 April 1865. Returned to parliament in the liberal interest for Dover in December 1868, he attracted the notice of Mr. Gladstone by two very learned and able speeches on the Bankruptcy Bill of the following year, and was appointed solicitor-general on 10 Nov. 1871, in succession to Sir John Duke (now Lord) Coleridge, who became attorney-general. His tenure of office was rendered more than usually onerous by the Geneva arbitration, and he discharged his duties with conspicuous ability. At this time he was making between 20,000l. and 23,000l. per annum. He succeeded Lord Romilly as master of the rolls on 30 Aug. 1873, was sworn of the privy council, and resigned his seat in parliament, though not legally bound so to do.
His elevation to the bench coincided with the commencement of a new era in the history of English law. The first Judicature Act had just been passed; the first step taken towards the fusion of law and equity into one harmonious system. It did not come into operation until 1 Nov. 1875, when it was linked with an amending and extending act, one of the clauses of which reconstituted the court of appeal and made the master of the rolls an ex-officio member of it. By virtue of his office the master of the rolls had precedence next after the lord chief justice. Thus, on the Judicature Acts coming into operation, Jessel, while continuing to sit as a judge of first instance at the rolls court, became the ordinary president of the chancery division of the court of appeal and of the rule committee. At the same time the power of making rules of procedure for the high court of justice and court of appeal was delegated to a committee of judges, of whom the master of the rolls was one. By the second Judicature Act, 1881, he was, much against his will, relieved of his duties at the rolls court. Jessel was also ex officio one of the commissioners of patents under the Patent Law Amendment Act, 1852, to whose duties was added in 1875 the superintendence of the registration of trade-marks, until the transference of those functions to the board of trade in 1883. From 1873 to 1883 Jessel was in fact the working head of the Patent Office.
Jessel brought to the practice of the law the aptitudes of a man of business; a logical faculty naturally acute and sharpened by