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Sir Lewis William Cave


CAVE, SIR LEWIS WILLIAM (1832- 1897), judge, eldest son of William Cave, a small landowner of Desborough, Northamptonshire, by Elizabeth, his wife, was born at Desborough on 3 July 1832. He was educated at Rugby School and Lincoln College. Oxford, of which he was Crewe exhibitioner. He matriculated on 26 March 1851, graduated B.A. (second class in literae humaniores) in 1855, and proceeded M.A. in 1877.

On 27 Jan. 1856 he was admitted student at the Inner Temple, and was there called to the bar on 10 June 1859, and elected bencher on 15 June 1877. He went at first the Midland circuit, but afterwards migrated to the north-eastern, where he had for some years a large general practice.

In 1865 he was appointed revising barrister, in 1873 recorder of Lincoln, and on 28 June 1875 was gazetted Q.C. He was commissioner for the autumn assize in 1877, was placed on the Oxford election commission in 1880 (10 Sept.), and in 1881 was raised to the bench as justice of the high court, queen's bench division, and knighted (14 March, 1 April). The appointment was unexpected, as Cave's reputation was greater on circuit than in the metropolis, but was amply justified by the result. The new judge joined unusual vigour and soundness of judgment to a businesslike habit of mind, which greatly contributed to despatch. He seized points with remarkable rapidity, and his stereotyped response, 'That won't do, you know. Have you anything else ?' or 'What do you say to that ?' addressed to the opposing counsel, frequently served to cut short a tedious argument.

He was as competent in criminal as in civil cases. His knowledge of mercantile affairs was comprehensive and intimate, and especially fitted him for the post of bankruptcy judge, to which he was assigned on the transference of the jurisdiction to the queen's bench division under the Act of 1883. To his able administration the success of that measure was in no small degree due ; and had he retired from the bench when he resigned the bankruptcy jurisdiction, at the commencement of 1891, he would have avoided a certain loss of reputation. He never again showed equal vigour, and the signs of decay were painfully manifest for some time before his death (of paralysis) at his residence, Manor House, Woodmansterne, Epsom, on 7 Sept. 1897. His remains were interred at St. Peter's, Woodmansterne, on 10 Sept.

Cave was burly in person and bluff in manner, and looked, as he was, the very incarnation of sound commonsense. He married on 5 Aug. 1856 Julia, daughter of the Rev. C. F. Watkins, vicar of Brixworth, Northamptonshire, by whom he had issue.

He was joint editor of :

  1. Stone's ' Practice of Petty Sessions,' London, 1861 (7th edit.), 8vo.
  2. 'Reports of the Court for the Consideration of Crown Cases Reserved/ London, 1861-5, 8vo.
  3.  The third volume of the thirteenth edition of Burn's 'Justice I of the Peace/ London, 1869, 8vo.

He was solely responsible for the sixth and seventh editions of Addison's ' Treatise on the Law of Contracts/ London, 1869, 1875, 8vo, and for the fifth edition of Addison's ' Law of Torts/ London, 1879, 8vo.

[Foster's Men at the Bar, Alumni Oxon., and Baronetage; London Gazette, 10 Sept. 1880; Parl. Pap. (H. C.), 1881, c 2856 ; Times, 8 Sept. 1897; Ann. Reg. 1897, ii. 175; Law Journ. 11 Sept. 1897; Law Times, 11 Sept. 1897; Solicitor's Journ. 11 Sept. 1897; Men and Women of the Time, 1895 ; Vanity Fair, 7 Dec. 1893 ; Birrell's Life of Lockwood, p. 84; Law Mag. and Rev. 4th ser. xxiii. 39-42.]     J. M. R.

From: Dictionary of National Biography, supplement, vol 1 Abbott—Childers. 1901

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