Lord Chancellor of Great Britain
Born 1801 Died 1881
William Page Wood, son of Sir Matthew Wood, a London alderman and Lord Mayor who became famous for befriending Queen Caroline and braving George IV, was born in London on the 29th of November 1801. He was educated at Winchester, Geneva University, and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he became a fellow after being 24th wrangler in 1824. He entered Lincoln's Inn, and was called to the bar in 1824, studying conveyancing in Mr John Tyrrell's chambers. He soon obtained a good practice as an equity draughtsman and before parliamentary committees, and in 1830 married Miss Charlotte Moor.
In 1845 he became Q.C., and in 1847 was elected to parliament for the city of Oxford as a Liberal. In 1849 he was appointed vice-chancellor of the county palatine of Lancaster, and in 1851 was made solicitor-general and knighted, vacating that position in 1852. When his party returned to power in 1853, he was raised to the bench as a vice-chancellor. In 1868 he was made a lord justice of appeal, but before the end of the year was selected by Mr Gladstone to be Lord Chancellor, and was raised to the peerage as Lord Hatherley of Down Hatherley. He retired in 1872 owing to failing eyesight, but sat occasionally as a law lord. His wife's death in 1878 was a great blow, from which he never recovered, and he died in London on the 10th of July 1881.
Dean Hook said that Lord Hatherley - who was a sound and benevolent supporter of the Church of England - was the best man he had ever known. He was a particularly clear-headed lawyer, and his judgments - always delivered extempore - commanded the greatest confidence both with the public and the legal profession. He left no issue and the title became extinct on his death.
Being the entry for HATHERLEY, WILLIAM PAGE WOOD, BARON in the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, the text of which lies within the public domain.