Peter King

(1669—1734) lord chancellor

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Peter King was born in Exeter and died at his seat at Ockham, Surrey on 22 July 1734. His father, Jerome, was a grocer and dry-salter. His mother, Anne, was a cousin of John Locke, his maternal grandfather, also Peter, being Locke's uncle. Peter junior was educated at Joseph Hallett's academy at Exeter as a student for the Presbyterian ministry. An Enquiry into the Constitution … of the Christian Church, published in 1691, attracted Locke's attention, which led to his being sent to Leyden University for three years. The Enquiry is important for its defence of the validity of Presbyterian – i.e. non-episcopal – ordination, subsequently put into practice by John Wesley. Neverthless King then decided on the law, entering the Middle Temple in 1694 and being called to the Bar in 1698, held several recorderships and was knighted in 1708. He was Whig MP for Beeralston, Devon from 1701 and was regarded as one of the mainstays of the party; indeed, was one of the mainstays of the impeachment of Sacheverell. He defended William Whiston free of charge at his trial in 1713. He became Chief Justice of the Common Pleas after the accession of George I and Lord Chancellor in 1725, in which year he was raised to the peerage. Trained as a common lawyer, however, he knew little of equity law and was not a success, though he established some important legal principles. A stroke forced his resignation in 1733.


From The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Philosophy.

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