Gilbert, Sir Jeffray

, knt. lord chief baron of the exchequer, and an eminent law writer, was born Oct. 10, 1674. Of his family, education, or early life, it has been found impossible to recover any information* Either in 1714, or 1715, for even this circumstance is not clearly ascertained, he was appointed one of the judges of the court of king’s bench in Ireland, and within a year was promoted to the dignity of chief baron of the exchequer in that kingdom, which office he held till the beginning of 1722, when he was recalled. During his residence there, he was engaged in an arduous and delicate contest concerning the ultimate judicial tribunal to which the inhabitants were to resort, which was disputed between the English house of lords and the Irish house of lords; and he appears to have been taken into custody by the order of the latter, for having enforced an order of the English house in the case of Annesley versus Sherlock, “contrary to the final judgment and determination of that house.” It appears by the style of this last order of the Irish house of lords, that he was a privy counsellor of that kingdom; and it is noticed in his epitaph, that a tender was made to him of the great seal, which he declining, returned to England. Here he was first called to the degree of an English serjeant at law, preparatory, according to ancient usage, to his taking his seat as one of the barons of the exchequer, in which he succeeded sir James Montague in June 1722. Having remained in that station for three years, he was in Jan. 1724 appointed one of the commissioners of the great seal in the room of lord Macclesfield, his colleagues being sir Joseph Jekyll and sir Robert Raymoqd. The great seal continued in commission till June 1, 1725, when sir Peter King was constituted lord keeper, and on the same day sir Jeffray Gilbert became, on the appointment of sir Rpbert Eyre to the chief-justiceship of the commonpleas, lord chief baron, which office he filled until his | death, Oct. 14, 1726, at an age which may be called early, if compared with the multitude and extent of his writings, which were all left by him in manuscript.

In the only character extant of him, it is said that “he filled up every station of life with the greatest integrity and most untainted honour; and discharged the duties of his profession to the general satisfaction of all that had any opportunity of observing his conduct. Nor did his speedy advancement from one post to another procure him the envy even of the gentlemen of the long robe, who constantly paid him the regard that is due to the greatest merit when he was alive, and by whom the loss of him is now as generally regretted. The skill and experience he had in the laws of fads country, and the uncommon penetration he discovered in the decision of such causes of equity as came before him, were not more known in Westminster-hall, than his unwearied pursuit of mathematical studies (when his affairs would permit), as well as his fine taste of the more polite parts of learning, were to men of the most exalted genius in either.” He was interred in a vault built for the purpose in the abbey church at Bath, in which city he died. A monument was afterwards erected to his memory in the Temple church, London. His works are, 1. “Law of Devises, last Wills, and Revocations,” Lond. 1730, 8vo^ reprinted 1756 and 1773. 2. “The Law of Uses and Trusts,1734, 8vo, reprinted 1741. 3. “The Law and Practice of Ejectments,1734, 8vo, reprinted 1741 and 1781, by Charles Runnington, esq. 4. “Reports of Cases in Equity and Exchequer,1734, reprinted 1742, fol. 5. “Law and Practice of Distresses and Replevins,” no date, reprinted 1780, and 1794, by William Hunt, esq. 6. “History and Practice of Civil Actions in the Common-pleas,1737, 1761, and 1779. 7. “Treatise of the Court of Exchequer,” partly printed in 1738, 8vo, but completely in 1753. 8. “Treatise of Tenures,” third edition, 1757, 8vo. 9. “Treatise of Rents,” 8vo. 10. “History and Practice of the high court of Chancery,1758, 8vo. An erroneous Irish edition had preceded this. 11.“Cases in Law and Equity,1760, 8vo. 12. “The Law of Executions,” &c. 1763, 8vo. 13. “Theory or Law of Evidence,1761, 8vo, reprinted a fourth time in 1777, again in 1791, 1792, and 1796, 4 vols. 8vo, by Capel Lofft, esq. with some account of the life of the author, from which the present article is taken, | Gilbert’s “Abridgment of Locke’s Essay on the Human Understanding,” and his argument in a case of homicide. 'The first volume was again reprinted in 1801, by J. Sedg. wick, esq. Besides these there are in Mr. Hargrave’s collection two manuscripts of lord chief baron Gilbert, the one a “History of the Feud,” the other “A Treatise of Remainders.1


Lofft’s Preface, as above.—Bridgman’s Legal Bibliography.