Edward Fry

Sir Edward Fry.

Sir Edward Fry GCB GCMG FRS FBA (4 November 1827 – 19 October 1918) was a judge in the English Court of Appeal (1883–1892) and also an arbitrator on the Permanent Court of Arbitration. He was a Quaker, son of Joseph Fry (1795–1879) and Mary Ann Swaine.[1]

Domestic legal and judicial careerEdit

He was called to the bar in 1854, took silk in 1869 and became a judge in Chancery in 1877.[2] He was raised to the Court of Appeal in 1883[3] and retired in 1892. Retirement from the court did not mean retirement from legal work. He sat on some cases in the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. In 1897 he accepted an offer to preside over the royal commission on the Irish Land Acts. He also acted as an arbitrator in the Welsh coal strike (1898), the Grimsby fishery dispute (1901) and between the London and North Western Railway Company and its employees (1906, 1907).


Judgments of Fry include:

International legal and arbitration careerEdit

He was also involved in international law. In 1902 he acted as one of five arbitrators at The Hague in the Pious Fund of the Californias dispute between the United States and Mexico, the first dispute between states arbitrated by the Permanent Court of Arbitration. In 1904 he was the British legal assessor on the commission to investigate the Dogger Bank incident where the Russian navy accidentally attacked a British herring fleet in the North Sea. He was involved in the second Hague Conference (1907). In 1908/1909 he was an arbitrator between France and Germany over a case where France had seized deserters (including some German citizens) from German diplomatic protection.

Zoological and botanical workEdit

Besides law he was on the council of University College London and interested in Zoology (he was elected to the Royal Society in 1883).

He wrote two books on bryophytes, British Mosses (1892) and, with his daughter Agnes, The Liverworts: British and Foreign (1911).

Suppression of opiumEdit

In his preface to the 1884 report to the Houses of Parliament titled The Indo-Chinese opium trade considered in relation to its history, morality, and expediency, and its influence on Christian missions, Fry wrote:

"We English, by the policy we have pursued, are morally responsible for every acre of land in China which is withdrawn from the cultivation of grain and devoted to that of the poppy; so that the fact of the growth of the drug [opium] in China ought only to increase our sense of responsibility".[6]


Edward Fry married in 1859 Mariabella Hodgkin (1833–1930), daughter of John Hodgkin, granddaughter of Luke Howard, and sister of the historian, Thomas Hodgkin: and they were the parents of seven daughters, one dying young, and two sons. The children included:[7]


  • 1877 – Knight Bachelor[8]
  • 1883 – Appointed to Privy Council[9]
  • 1907 – Knight of the Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George.[10]
  • 1907 – Knight of the Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath[11]


  1. ^ "Death Of Sir E. Fry. A Great Equity Lawyer. The Hague Arbitration Court". The Times. The Times Digital Archive. 21 October 1918. p. 2.
  2. ^ "The New Judge". The Times (28927). London. 27 April 1877. p. 10; col F.
  3. ^ "London Gazette, Tuesday, May 1". The Times (28931). London. 2 May 1877. p. 9; col F.
  4. ^ The Law Reports, Queens Bench Division (1887). "In the Arbitration between Secretary of State for Home Department and Fletcher" (Vol XVIII): 340–346. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  5. ^ "Report 63 (1988) – Jurisdiction of Local Courts Over Foreign Land". Law Reform Commission, New South Wales. 30 May 2001. Retrieved 1 September 2008. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  6. ^ Spencer Hill, J. (1884). The Indo-Chinese opium trade considered in relation to its history, morality, and expediency, and its influence on Christian missions. London: Henry Frowde. Prefatory note by Lord Justice Fry.
  7. ^ Agnew, Sinéad. "Fry, Sir Edward". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/33283. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  8. ^ "London Gazette, Friday, May 4". The Times (28934). London. 5 May 1877. p. 10; col B.
  9. ^ "London Gazette, Tuesday, April 24". The Times (30803). London. 25 April 1883. p. 8; col B.
  10. ^ "The King has been pleased to approve of the following appointments". The Times (38320). London. 30 April 1907. p. 9; col E.
  11. ^ London Gazette Issue 28019, p.3080, published on 7 May 1907. Retrieved on 7 October 2008


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