Sir William Grantham (1835 – 1911) was a British barrister, Member of Parliament for 12 years for successive areas which took in Croydon then, from 1886, High Court judge.

Sir William Grantham

High Court of Justice, Queen's Bench Division
In office
Personal details
Born23 October 1835 (1835-10-23)
Lewes, Sussex
Died30 November 1911 (1911-12-01) (aged 76)
100 Eaton Square, London
Political partyConservative
RelationsWarren de la Rue (as to his son's offspring)
Thomas de la Rue (as above)
Alexander Grantham
  • William Wilson
  • Emma Laura
  • Constance Grantham
  • Frederick
  • Gertrude
  • Maud
  • Muriel Georgina.
Professionbarrister, politician, judge


Grantham was born on 23 October 1835 in Lewes, Sussex, England to George Grantham and Sarah Grantham (née Verrall).[1] He was educated at King's College School, and was called to the bar in 1863 at Inner Temple.[1] He was appointed Queen's Counsel in 1877.[2]

Grantham married Emma L Wilson on 15 February 1865 in Sussex, England.[1] The couple had seven children taking his surname:

His eldest son's wife was granddaughter of British astronomer and chemist Warren de la Rue.


He was a Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) for East Surrey from 1874 to 1885 and was elected as for Croydon in 1885. He was knighted that year.[3] In parliament he spoke 184 times, the last of which in 1885,[4] and ardently opposed Gladstone.[1] He resigned in 1886 on appointment as a judge of the Queen's Bench Division. He came to chair the East Sussex Quarter Sessions.[3]

As a judge he was seen as competent but with a weakness for commenting on cases in a way that brought him into conflict with various groups, a habit that eventually led to hints in the newspapers that he should retire.[1] His tenure as a judge was mainly uncontroversial until 1906, when, co-determining petitions following the general election: for Bodmin, Maidstone and Great Yarmouth, he was seen as favouring the Conservatives.[1] A censure motion was proposed in the House of Commons and led to a vigorous debate, but the government declined to take it further, possibly because of the precedent it would set.[1]

Five years later, an indiscreet speech to the grand jury in Liverpool led to him being rebuked by the Prime Minister, H. H. Asquith, in the Commons,[5] 'one of the severest ever dealt to an English judge by a minister of the crown'.[1] He died later that year, of pneumonia, in his house, 100 Eaton Square,[6] London, aged 76,[1] also possessed of Barcombe Place, near Lewes, East Sussex.[6]

His probate was resworn the next year at £233,406 (equivalent to about £22,700,000 in 2018).[6]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i J. B. Atlay, ‘Grantham, Sir William (1835–1911)’, rev. Robert Stevens, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004
  2. ^ "Obituary: Sir William Grantham", Evening Post, Volume LXXXII, Issue 132, 1 December 1911, Page 6.
  3. ^ a b "Grantham, Sir William, (23 Oct. 1835–30 Nov. 1911), DCL; Judge of the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court of Justice from 1886." WHO'S WHO & WHO WAS WHO. December 01, 2007. Oxford University Press. Date of access 4 Dec. 2019, <>
  4. ^ Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by William Grantham
  5. ^ Hansard, HC 5ser vol 22 col 366.
  6. ^ a b c Calendar of Probates and Administrations


External linksEdit

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Peter John Locke King
James Watney
Member of Parliament for East Surrey
With: James Watney
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Croydon
Succeeded by
Sidney Herbert