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Sir James Wigram, FRS (1793–1866) was an English barrister, politician and judge.

Sir James Wigram

Vice-Chancellor of England
In office
Personal details
MotherEleanor Watts
FatherSir Robert Wigram, 1st Baronet
RelativesSir Robert Fitzwygram, 2nd Baronet
Joseph Wigram
Octavius Wigram
Loftus Wigram
George Wigram
(all brothers)
Alma materTrinity College, Cambridge


He was the third son, by his second wife (Eleanor, daughter of John Watts), of Sir Robert Wigram, 1st Baronet, and younger brother name of Sir Robert Fitzwygram, 2nd Baronet in 1832; another brother was Joseph Cotton Wigram. Born at his father's residence, Walthamstow House, Essex, on 5 November 1793, James was educated privately and at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. in 1815, gained a fellowship two years later, and proceeded M.A. in 1818. Admitted a student of Lincoln's Inn on 18 June 1813, he was called to the bar there on 18 November 1819.[1][2]

In practice in the Court of Chancery, Wigram built up a career. In Michaelmas vacation 1834 he was made King's Counsel, and, in 1835 became a bencher of Lincoln's Inn.[1] That year he also was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.[3]

Supported by his wife's family interest, Wigram fought an election for Leominster on Tory principles in 1837, but was defeated at the poll. He was, however, returned for the borough without opposition at the next general election, on 28 June 1841.[1]

On 28 October 1841 Wigram was raised to the bench under the act for the better administration of justice (5 Vict. c. 5), which provided for the appointment of a second Vice-Chancellor of England. He was sworn a member of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council on 15 January 1842, and received the customary knighthood the same month.

As a judge his two most famous decisions were probably Foss v Harbottle (and the eponymous 'rule in Foss v Harbottle') and Henderson v Henderson. He was also the judge at first instance in Foley v Hill.

Wigram was compelled by ill-health, resulting in the total loss of sight, to retire from the bench in Trinity vacation 1850, when he was granted a pension of £3,500 a year. He died on 29 July 1866.[1]


Wigram was the author of two legal works, Examination of the Rules of Law respecting the Admission of Extrinsic Evidence in aid of the Interpretation of Wills (1831, four editions), and Points in the Law of Discovery (1836). They led him into correspondence with Joseph Story.


On 28 October 1818 Wigram married Anne (d. 1844), daughter of Richard Arkwright of Willersley Castle, Derbyshire, and granddaughter of Sir Richard Arkwright. Her family owned property in the neighbourhood of Leominster in Herefordshire. He left a family of four sons and five daughters.


  1. ^ a b c d Lee, Sidney, ed. (1900). "Wigram, James" . Dictionary of National Biography. 61. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  2. ^ "Wigram, James (WGRN810J)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  3. ^, Wigram; Sir; James (1793 - 1866).

  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainLee, Sidney, ed. (1900). "Wigram, James". Dictionary of National Biography. 61. London: Smith, Elder & Co.

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