Selborne, Roundell Palmer, 1st earl of

Selborne, Roundell Palmer, 1st earl of sĕlˈbôrn [key], 1812–95, British jurist and statesman. Called to the bar in 1837, he entered Parliament in 1847 as a nominal Conservative. He soon was associated more with the Liberals, however, and served Lord Palmerston as solicitor general (1861–63) and Palmerston and Lord John Russell as attorney general (1863–66). As lord chancellor under William Gladstone (1872–74, 1880–85), Selborne secured passage of the Judicature Act of 1873, a landmark reform of the British courts. He broke with Gladstone in 1885 on the question of Irish Home Rule and joined the Liberal Unionists. Selborne was a conservative writer on problems of church history and doctrine. He was created an earl in 1882. His son, William Waldegrave Palmer, 2d earl of Selborne, 1859–1942, was first lord of the admiralty (1900–1905) and worked closely with Sir John Fisher (later 1st Baron Fisher) on the important naval reforms of the period. As high commissioner (1905–10) for South Africa, he proposed and worked out the details for the formation of the Union of South Africa. He was president of the Board of Agriculture in 1915–16 but held no further offices.

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