Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 32.djvu/225

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Law
Law
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ever, the rupture occurred between the king and Grenville, Ellenborough sided with the king, and asserted that there was nothing unconstitutional in requiring the ministers to pledge themselves never to propose any further concessions to the Roman catholics. After the resignation of the cabinet Ellenborough became entirely estranged from the whigs, and acted in close alliance with Lord Sidmouth. In February 1808 he supported Lord Sidmouth's motion relative to the restitution of the Danish fleet, and condemned the expedition to Copenhagen in the strongest terms (ib. x. 648–50). During the debate on the third reading of the Indictment Bill Ellenborough insisted that the principle of the bill was misunderstood, and that the opposition to it was 'no better than a tub thrown out for the purpose of catching popular applause,' concluding his speech with a sharp attack upon Lord Stanhope (ib. xi. 710). In February 1811 he was appointed (51 Geo. III, c. i. sec. 15) a councillor to the queen as custos personæ during the regency, and in the following month opposed, in an exceedingly violent speech, Lord Holland's motion for a return of the criminal informations for libel (ib. 1st ser. xix. 148–52). In July 1812, while speaking against the Marquis of Wellesley's motion for the relief of the Roman catholics, he referred to 'the measure proposed by the council of which he was part, though he did not approve of their opinions on the subject of the catholics' (ib. xxiii. 846–7), and in the same month successfully moved the rejection of Lord Holland's ex-officio Information Bill (ib. pp. 1082–9). On 22 March 1813 he warmly defended his conduct in 'the delicate investigation' in which he had been concerned as one of the commissioners appointed to inquire into the charges against the Princess of Wales on 29 May 1806 (ib. xxv. 207–13). He roundly declared that the accusation which had been made against himself and his brother commissioners was 'as false as hell in every part,' and in the course of his speech 'hardly omitted one epithet of coarse invective that the English language could supply him with' (Memoirs of Sir Samuel Romilly, iii. 94). From an account of the discussion at the meeting of a committee of the privy council held in February 1813, it appears that Ellenborough refused to concur in any declaration importing the princess's innocence, 'although the proof was not legally complete, his moral conviction being that the charges were true' (Diary of Lord Colchester, ii. 425). In July 1815 he opposed Michael Angelo Taylor's Pillory Abolition Bill, contending that there were several offences to which that punishment 'was more applicable than any other that could be found' (Parl. Debates, 1st ser. xxxi. 1123–6), and in June 1816 zealously supported the Alien Bill, which he described as 'comparatively a lenient measure, imperiously called for by the existing circumstances of the world' (ib. xxxiv. 1069). He spoke for the last time in the House of Lords on 12 May 1817, when he opposed Lord Grey's motion censuring Lord Sidmouth's circular letter to the magistrates (ib. xxxvi. 496–9).

As chief justice he presided at the trials of Colonel Edward Marcus Despard for high treason (Howell, State Trials, xxviii. 345–528), of Jean Peltier for a libel on Napoleon Bonaparte (ib. pp. 529–620), of Mr. Justice Johnson for libelling the lord-lieutenant and lord chancellor of Ireland (ib. xxix. 422–502), of James Perry, the proprietor of the 'Morning Chronicle,' for a libel on the king (ib. xxxi. 335–68), of the two Hunts, joint proprietors of the 'Examiner,' for publishing an article reflecting on the excessive flogging in the army (ib. pp. 367–414), and of the same two defendants for libelling the Prince of Wales [see Hunt, James Henry Leigh]. On the last occasion, 9 Dec. 1812, Ellenborough made a violent attack upon Hunt's counsel, Brougham, whom he much disliked. In June 1814 he presided at the trial of Thomas, lord Cochrane, afterwards tenth earl of Dundonald [q.v.], and others for a conspiracy to defraud the Stock Exchange, when all the defendants were found guilty (The Trial of Charles Random de Berenger, &c., taken in shorthand by W. B. Gurney, 1814). An application by Lord Cochrane for a new trial was refused by Lord Ellenborough, and he was subsequently sentenced by the court to a year's imprisonment, an hour's detention in the pillory, and a fine of 1,000l. For this excessive sentence Ellenborough was greatly blamed, and though he indignantly denied the imputation of having had any political bias in the case, his house was attacked and his person insulted. On 5 March 1816 Cochrane presented in the House of Commons thirteen charges against Ellenborough for his 'partiality, misrepresentation, injustice, and oppression' at the trial (Parl. Debates, xxxii. 1145–1208), and on 1 April an additional charge (ib. xxxiii. 760–3). His motion, however, on 30 April, that these charges should be considered in a committee of the whole house, which was seconded by Burdett, was defeated by 89 to none, the tellers for the ayes (Cochrane and Burdett) having no votes to record; and on the motion of Ponsonby every notice of the charges against Ellenborough was expunged from the votes of the house (ib. xxxiv. 103–132). In the same session an act was passed