Salt, Samuel (DNB00)

SALT, SAMUEL (d. 1792), lawyer, and benefactor of Charles Lamb, was a son of John Salt, vicar of Audley in Staffordshire. He was admitted at the Middle Temple in 1741, and at the Inner Temple in 1745, and was duly called to the bar in 1753. In 1782 he was raised to the bench at the Inner Temple, became reader in 1787 and treasurer in 1788. Charles Lamb says that he had ‘the reputation of being a very clever man, and of excellent discernment in the chamber practice of of the law,’ but that he himself had doubts on the point. Through the influence of the family of Eliot he was returned to parliament in 1768 for their pocket-boroughs of St. Germans and Liskeard, and preferred to sit for the latter constituency. He represented Liskeard during the three parliaments from 1768 to 1784 (having from 1774 to 1780 Edward Gibbon as his colleague), and sat for Aldeburgh in Suffolk from 1784 to 1790. In politics he was a whig. ‘He was a shy man,’ says Lamb, ‘… indolent and procrastinating,’ very forgetful and careless in everything, but ‘you could not ruffle Samuel Salt.’

Salt died at his chambers in Crown Office Row, Inner Temple, on 27 July 1792, and was buried in a vault of the Temple Church. A shield with his coat-of-arms is in the sixteenth panel (counting from the west) on the north side of the Inner Temple hall. He married young (it is said that his wife was a daughter of Lord Coventry), and lost his wife in childbed ‘within the first year of their union, and fell into a deep melancholy’ (Lamb, Benchers of the Inner Temple).

John Lamb, father of Charles Lamb, the ‘Lovel’ of the essay on the Inner Temple benchers, was Salt's clerk for nearly forty years. Charles was born in Crown Office Row, where Salt ‘owned two sets of chambers,’ and it was the home of the Lamb family until 1792. He procured the admission of Charles to Christ's Hospital, and made himself answerable for the boy's discharge, giving a bond for the sum of 100l. Through Salt's influence as a governor of the South Sea Company, Charles and his elder brother obtained clerkships under the company, and in his will Salt made provision for his old clerk and his wife.

A medallion portrait of Samuel Salt, executed in plaster of Paris by John Lamb, belonged to Mrs. Arthur Tween.

[Masters of Bench of Inner Temple, 1883, p. 83; Gent. Mag. 1792, ii. 678; Notes and Queries, 7th ser. vi. 85, 217; Official Return of Members of Parliament, ii. 137, 138, 150, 163, 181; Lamb's Inner Temple Benchers in Essays of Elia (ed. Ainger), pp. 122–5, 128–9, 394–6; Johnson's Christ's Hospital, pp. 254, 274.]

W. P. C.