Patrick Arthur Devlin

(1905—1992) judge and legal philosopher

Show Summary Details

Quick Reference

Baron Devlin (1905–1992), son of an architect, enjoyed debating at Stonyhurst and Christ's College, Cambridge. He joined Gray's Inn in 1927 and was taken on as a devil by Jowett, the Attorney-General, who appointed him a judge in 1948 at the early age of forty-two. He showed himself a sound commercial lawyer with a gift for close but intelligible reasoning. He became known in 1957 for his conduct of the trial of Dr Bodkin Adams, accused of murdering a patient for a legacy, a trial of which Devlin after retirement wrote a controversial account in Easing the Passing (1985). In 1959 he chaired an inquiry into an alleged plot to murder the governor, his officials, and all Europeans in Nyasaland (now Malawi). He concluded that the plot was a figment of an informer's imagination. The Attorney-General, Manningham-Buller, ridiculed this conclusion. Devlin was nevertheless promoted to the House of Lords in 1961. Disliking the dreary work and poor facilities in the Lords, he resigned in 1964.


From The New Oxford Companion to Law in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Law.

Reference entries

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.