Sawyer, Sir Robert

, an eminent lawyer in the seventeenth century, was a member of Magdalen college, Cambridge, where he took his degree of M.A. in 1655,. and was the same year admitted ad eundem at Oxford. He was afterwards a benefactor to the library of his college. After studying law at the Inner Temple, he was admitted to the bar, and had a large share of practice fit London, and on the Oxford circuit. In 1661 he was knighted, and in Feb. 1680, was appointedattorney-general, As a lawyer he formed himself after the lord chief justice Hale, under whom he practised, and of whom he was a just admirer. Like that excellent person, he was a man of general learning, and, according to Granger, of an integrity that nothing could corrupt; but bishop Burnet represents him as a dull hot man, and forward to serve all the designs of the court. Had this been always the case, however, king James would not have dismissed him from the office of attorney general, which he did in 1687, because he perceived that sir Robert could not have been prevailed upon to njould the laws to such purposes as were never intended by the legislatureOn the other hand, Granger allows that he was justly censured for his harsh treatment of lord Russel on his trial, and it is certain that he supported some of king James’s arbitrary measures, being the manager in depriving the city of London of its charter. At the time of the revolution, he sat as member of parliament for the university of Cambridge, and was expelled the house for being concerned, as attorney-general, in the prosecution of sir Thomas Armstrong, who was executed for being one of the conspirators in the Rye-house plot. In the next sessions he was re-chosen, and appears to have sat quietly for the remainder of his life. He died in 1692, at Highclear in Hampshire, where he had an estate, and rebuilt the parish church. His only daughter married the earl of Pembroke, and died in 1706. Under his name, and those of Heneage Finch, sir George Treby, and Henry Pollexfen, were published in 1690, folio, “Pleadings and arguments with other proceedings in the court of king’s bench upon the Quo Warranto, touching the charter of the city of London, with the judgment entered thereupon.1


Ath. Ox. Yo!. II. —Burnet’s Own Times. Cole’s ms Athenae in Brit. Mui, Granger. North’s Life of Lord Keeper Guilford, p. 287.