Aland, Sir John Fortescue

, lord Fortescue of the kingdom of Ireland, a baron of the exchequer, and puisne judge of the king’s bench and common pleas in the reigns of George I. and II. was born March 7, 1670, being the second son of Edmund Fortescue, of London, esq. and Sarah, daughter of Henry Aland, of Waterford, esq. in honour of whom he added Aland to his name. He was descended from sir John Fortescue, lord chief justice and lord high chancellor of England under king Henry VI. He was educated probably at Oxford, as that university, in complimenting him with a doctor’s degree, by diploma, in 1733, alluded to his having^tudied there. On leaving the university he became a member of the Inner Temple, where he was chosen reader in 1716, 2 Geo. I. as appears by a subscription to his arms, and was called to the bar about the time of the Revolution. For his arguments as pleader in the courts of justice, the reader is referred to the following authorities; viz. the Reports of Mr. justice Fortescue Aland; Mr. serjeant Carthew; Mr. recorder Comberbach; lord chancellor (of Ireland) Freeman; lord chief baron Gilbert’s Cases; Mr. justice Levintz; Mr. justice Lutwyche; lord chief justice Raymond; Mr. Serjeant Salkeld; Mr. serjeant Skinner; and Mr. justice Ventris.

We may presume our barrister shone as an advocate with meridian lustre, since the celebrated Pope has recorded his name, by prefixing it to his Imitation of Horace, Sat. II. 1. and distinguished his legal abilities, by asking his opinion, as to libels, in the following lines:

“Tim’rous by nature, of the rich in awe,

I come to counsel learned in the law.

You’ll give me, like a friend both sage and free,

Advice, and (as you use) without a fee.”

| The reader is informed in a note on the first line, that the delicacy of the address does not so much lie in the ironical application to himself, as in seriously characterising the person for whose advice the poet applies.

On Friday, October 22, 1714, he was appointed solicitorgeneral to his royal highness the prince of Wales, afterwards king George the Second; and on December 21, 1715, he was constituted solicitor-general to the king, in the room of Nicholas Lechmere, resigned; which arduous and important office he executed so much to the satisfaction of his majesty and the people, that he was thought deserving of a higher post; and accordingly, 24th January, 1716-7, Hilary term, the king appointed him one of the barons of the exchequer, in which court he succeeded sir Samuel Dodd, the late lord chief baron, deceased. In the office of solicitor-general he was himself succeeded by sir William Thompson the recorder of London. The reader is referred to the reports of the lord chief baron Comyns, and of the lord chief baron Gilbert, sir John Strange and Bunbury, for our baron’s resolutions and opinions while he sat in this court.

In May 1718, he was constituted one of the justices of the court of king’s bench; but after the accession of king George II. all the judges had new patents, except Mr. justice Aland, whose commission was superseded, for reasons which have not transpired. It appears, however, that he regained his majesty’s favoifV, as in January 1728 he was appointed one of the justices of the court of common pleas. He continued on this bench from Michaelmas vacation, 2 Geo. II. 1728, until Trinity term 19 and 20, A. D. 1746, when he resigned the same, having sat in the superior courts of Westminster for the long period of thirty years, and eighteen of them in the court alluded to. His majesty, in further testimony of his judicial integrity and abilities, was pleased to create him a peer of Ireland, by the style and title of John lord Fortescue Aland, baron Fortescue of Credan, in the kingdom of Ireland, by privy seal, dated at Kensington, June 26, 1746, 19 Geo. II. and by patent dated at Dublin, August 15. But he did not enjoy this honour long, dying Dec. 19 of the same year, in the seventy-seventh year of his age. The family is now extinct.

The juridical writings of sir John Fortescue Aland are: 1. “The Difference between an absolute and limited | Monarchy, as it more particularly regards the English constitution; being a treatise written by sir John Fortescue, knight, lord chief justice, and lord high chancellor of England, under king Henry VI. faithfully transcribed from the ms copy in the Bodleian library, and collated with three other Mss. published with some remarks by John Fortescue Aland, of the Inner Temple, esq. F. R. S.” Lond. 1714: reprinted, 1719. 2. “Reports of Select Cases in all the courts of Westminster hall, tempore William the Third and queen Anne; also the opinion of all the judges of England relating to the grandest prerogative of the royal family, and some observations relating to the prerogatives of a queen-consort,London, 1748, fol. This is a posthumous publication.

Sir John, in his preliminary remarks to the work of his great ancestor, proves himself to be a distinguished proficient in Saxon literature. He lived also in habits of intimacy with Pope and his associates; and many of Pope’s letters to him are published in Mr. Bowles’s edition of the works of that Poet. Mr. Fortescue also furnished Pope with the admirable burlesque of “Stradling vtrsus Styles” in vol. VI.1


Abridged from a desultory account in the preceding edition of this Dictionary. Park’s edition of Lord Orford’s Koyal and Noble Authors, vol. V.