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SELBORNE, 1ST EARL OF


The Ichthyotomi, including the family Pleuracanthidae (Lower Carboniferous to Permian), are again of special interest as regards their paired fins which are obviously of the uniserial archipterygial type. The tail is protocercal and the mouth nearly terminal.

The Acanthodei are small fishes ranging from the Upper Silurian to Permian. They had strongly heterocercal tail, gill clefts apparently opening independently to the exterior, but they are specially characterized by the strong spines in front of each fin and by the calcified plates lying superficial to the cranium, jaw apparatus and pectoral girdles.

Authorities.—(1) T. J. Parker, Trans. Zool. Soc. xi. (1879); (2) Hochstetter, Morphol. Jahrb. xxix. (1900); (3) W. G. Ridewood, Journ. Linn. Soc. Zool. vol. xxvii.; (4) C. Stewart, Journ. Linn. Soc. Zool. xxix. (1906); (5) T. W. Bridge, Cambridge Nat. History, “Fishes” (1904); (6) A. Smith Woodward, Vertebrate Palaeontology (1898), for references to special literature; (7) R. H. Traquair, Trans. Roy. Soc. Edin., xxxix. (1899); (8) Bashford Dean, Journ. Morph. ix. (1894), and Trans. New York Acad. Sci. xiii. (1894).

(J. G. K.)

SELBORNE, ROUNDELL PALMER, 1st Earl of (1812–1895), English lawyer and statesman, was born at Mixbury, in the county of Oxford, on the 27th of November 1812. His father was rector of the parish: his grandfather and great-grandfather were merchants in the City of London, where their descendants for a long while continued to be influential people; his mother belonged to the family of Roundell, which had been settled for four centuries in the West Riding of Yorkshire. He was educated at Rugby and at Winchester, and in 1830 went into residence in the university of Oxford as a scholar of Trinity College. Here he lived in intimacy with many friends, especially P. C. Claughton and Charles Wordsworth. In 1834 he took a first class in Literae Humaniores; he won the Eldon scholarship and was elected to a fellowship at Magdalen College; and after a year, spent chiefly in private tuition, partly in Lord Winchilsea's house and partly in the university, he removed to London (November 1835) and commenced reading for the bar.

He was called to the bar on the 7th of June 1837, the same day on which John Rolt (1804–1871), a man of very different antecedents, but afterwards a worthy rival of Palmer, was also called. Through his family connexions in the City of London, clients soon came to Palmer's chambers, and his business at the Chancery bar increased rapidly. Meanwhile his interests were not wholly confined to law: for some time (1840–1843) he wrote for The Times and the British Critic; he made a plunge into patriotic learning, from which he soon recoiled; he was much interested in the controversies which distracted the Church on the subject of Tract 90; in the treatment of the Episcopal Church in Canada by the Canadian government and the Colonial Office; in the establishment by the crown, in conjunction with the king of Prussia, of the Jerusalem bishopric; and in the contest for the professorship of poetry at Oxford on Keble's retirement.

In 1847, and again in 1853, Palmer was returned as member of Parliament for Plymouth, as a Peelite, and in the House of Commons he took an active and independent part. He advocated the admission of Jews to parliament; he opposed Lord John Russell's measure to repel the so-called papal aggression; he opposed the admission of Dissenters into the university of Oxford; and he was hostile to the action of the government in the Crimean War. On the question of the reform of the university of Oxford, he sympathized with the reformers, but felt himself prohibited, by the oaths which he had taken, from assuming any active part. In 1855 he supported Gladstone in the efforts to bring about peace with Russia before the capture of Sebastopol; in 1856 he opposed the opening of museums on Sunday; in the following year he supported Cobden in his disapproval of the second opium war with China. At the general election on March 1857, Palmer, finding that the independent part he had taken, especially in reference to the Chinese question, had alienated from him many of his constituents in Plymouth, abandoned the prospect of re-election for that borough, and did not seek for election elsewhere. In 1848 he married Lady Laura Waldegrave, daughter of Earl Waldegrave. In 1849 he had become a Q.C.; and in 1851 he took his seat in the Rolls Court, where he soon obtained a leading practice, and was engaged in many of the most important cases in the Court of Chancery. In July 1861 he accepted from Lord Palmerston the office of solicitor-general, a knighthood, and a safe seat for the borough of Richmond in Yorkshire, secured for him through the friendly action of Lord Zetland, and thus began the second spell of Palmer's membership of the House of Commons, which continued till his elevation to the woolsack and the peerage. In September 1863 he became attorney-general, and so continued till the government of which he was a member resigned in 1866.

The Civil War in America, and the questions which arose from the relations of Great Britain with both belligerents, rendered the duties of the law officers of the crown more than usually onerous, and Palmer was called upon to take part, as adviser of the ministry, in the courts, and in the House, in the questions which arose in respect of the “Trent” and the “Peterhoff,” the cruisers “Alabama” and “Florida” and the “Alexandra,” a ship which was seized by the government, and other matters. In 1865 he took a large part in the passing of the act under which all the law courts were gathered together in the Strand. In 1866 he expressed himself favourable to the making of household suffrage the basis of representation, an expression of opinion which probably influenced the Reform Bill of the following year—in the discussions on which Palmer took a prominent part, and especially in opposition to the so-called “fancy franchises” originally proposed by its authors. In the same year he took part in supporting the measure for the abolition of compulsory Church rates.

In 1868 occurred an event of great importance in his career. In April of that year Gladstone proposed his resolutions with reference to the Irish Church on which the bill for its disestablishment was subsequently based. This measure was opposed to many of the dearest beliefs and feelings of Palmer, and he evidenced his disapproval by abstaining from voting on the resolutions. At the election of November 1868 Palmer was again returned for Richmond, and Gladstone offered him the office of lord chancellor or the office of a lord justice with a peerage; both offers were declined by Palmer, and he assumed a position of independent opposition to the measure relative to the Irish Church. On the 22nd of March 1869 he delivered a very powerful speech against the second reading of the bill, and during its later stages exercised a considerable influence in modifying the severity of its provisions. The position of Palmer at this time was very remarkable. The foremost advocate at the bar, he was known to have declined the highest prize in the profession rather than promote a measure of which he disapproved; a very prominent member of the House of Commons, whose action had been more than usually independent of party, he had separated himself from his political friends and maintained a position as the dignified and forcible opponent of disestablishment. Without office and without combination with the Conservative Opposition, he exercised great influence within and without the walls of St Stephen's. What made his position the more remarkable was that he was frequently consulted by the government which he had declined to join, and that on some occasions they invoked the assistance which his great influence in the House enabled him to afford to them.

In 1869 he sought to modify rather than to oppose the bill for the abolition of tests in the universities. In 1870 he gave a qualified support to Gladstone's first Irish Land Act, and in the same year he supported Forster's Education Act. In 1872 he undertook the defence of his friend Lord Chancellor Hatherley, when attacked for his appointment of Sir Robert Collier to the judicial committee of the Privy Council, and, by a line of argument more ingenious than convincing, secured a majority for the government.

The treaty of Washington was the means of casting a great duty upon Palmer. After the conclusion of the Civil War in America very large claims were preferred against Great Britain for alleged breaches of her duty as a neutral power; and after long negotiations, England and the United States agreed to arbitration. Palmer, who had been advising the British government during these negotiations, and who (4th August 1871) had defended the treaty in the House of Commons, was briefed