Chapter

‘Hopes of Advancement’ (1761–66)

Wilfrid Prest

in William Blackstone

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780199550296
Published online January 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191720925 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199550296.003.0009
 ‘Hopes of Advancement’ (1761–66)

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Blackstone was now fully committed to a career at the London bar, and enjoyed some measure of success, both as an advocate and in out-of-court practice. He nevertheless continued lecturing at Oxford, where the headship of New Inn Hall partly compensated for the All Souls fellowship he had forfeited upon marriage. His ambiguous role in the university's chancellorship election of 1762, when he failed to support the candidate backed by his own aristocratic patrons Bute and Shelburne, did nothing to further his chances of preferment. These patrons may also have been disappointed by his performance in the House of Commons, notwithstanding his exceptionally diligent service on committees. But the main reasons why Blackstone failed to win a judgeship were probably a lack of judicial vacancies, combined with his relative youth and inexperience, and the political instability of the 1760s.

Keywords: bar; legal practice; academic politics; Bute; Shelburne; House of Commons; promotion; judge; judiciary

Chapter.  11156 words. 

Subjects: History of Law

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