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Chairman-LORD BROUGHAM, F.R.S., Mem. of the Nat. Inst. of France.
Captain Beaufort, R.N., F.R. and R.A.S.
The Bishop of Durham.
John Elliotson, M.D., F.R.S.
T. F. Ellis, Esq., A.M., F.R.A.S.
Thomas Falconer, Esq.
John Forbes, M.D., F.R.S.
Sir I. L. Goldsmid, Bart., F.R. and R.A.S.
B. Gompertz, Esq., F.R. and R.A.S.
Thomas Hodgkin, M.D.
J. G. S. Lefevre, Esq., A.M.
Rowland Hill, Esq., F.R.A.S.
The Right Hon. Sir J. C. Hobhouse, Bart.,
The Rt. Hon. Stephen Lushington, D.C.L.
A. T. Malkin, Esq., A.M.
Mr. Serjeant Manning.
P. M. Roget, M.D., Sec. R.S., F.R.A.S.
Jacob Waley, Esq., A.M.
James Walker, Esq., F.R.S., P. Inst. Civ. Eng.
Thomas Webster, Esq., A.M.
Lord Wrottesley, A.M., F.R.A.S.
THOMAS COATES, Esq., Secretary, 42, Bedford Square.
London: Printed by WILLIAM CLOWES and SONS, Stamford Street.
SOCIETY FOR THE DIFFUSION OF
LONGMAN, BROWN, GREEN, AND LONGMANS,
SOCIETY for the DIFFUSION of USEFUL KNOWLEDGE.
ATKYNS, SIR ROBERT, a judge and an eminent political character in the latter part of the seventeenth century, was descended from a family of wealth and influence in Gloucestershire. His father and grandfather were both distinguished members of the profession of the law. His father, Sir Edward Atkyns, was one of the serjeantsat-law named by the Long Parliament to Charles I. as proper persons to be made judges, in the proposals sent to the king in January, 1642-43. (Clarendon's Rebellion, vol. iii. p. 407.) He was made a baron of the Exchequer in 1645; and although he refused at first a renewal of his commission from Cromwell, he afterwards became a judge of the Court of Common Pleas during the Commonwealth. Upon the restoration of Charles II. he was appointed a baron of the Exchequer, and was named in the commission for the trial of the regicides. He died in 1669, at the age of eighty-two.
Sir Robert Atkyns was born in 1621, and after receiving the early part of his education in his father's house in Gloucestershire, was entered at Baliol College, Oxford. He spent several years at the university, and in November, 1645, was called to the bar by the Society of Lincoln's Inn, to which his father and grandfather had belonged. During the Commonwealth he attained to high reputation as an advocate, confining his practice to the Court of Exchequer, which at that particular time seems to have disposed of as much business as either of the Superior Courts. (Hardres's Reports.) Although he had taken the engagement to be true to the Commonwealth, and was a member of the popular party, he had acted no personal part in the more obnoxious and violent proceedings against Charles I., and being possessed of talents, wealth, and influence, he was one of those whom at the restoration it was the policy of the government to
conciliate. At the coronation of Charles II., therefore, he was one of the sixty-eight persons of distinction" who were created knights of the Bath. In 1661 he was chosen recorder of Bristol; and upon the marriage of the king to Catherine of Portugal, he was appointed solicitor-general to the queen. In the ensuing term he was called to the bench of the Society of Lincoln's Inn. He was not a member of the Convention Parliament assembled immediately upon the restoration, but he was returned to the House of Commons for the borough of East Looe in the Parliament which met in May, 1661. He continued to hold his seat in the House of Commons until he was raised to the bench: and although he retained his practice in the Court of Exchequer, the frequent mention of his name in the journals proves his assiduous attention to parliamentary duties. In April, 1672, he was appointed a judge of the Court of Common Pleas. No facts are recorded which mark his judicial character, and at such a period it was, perhaps, a proof of merit not to be conspicuous. He is mentioned, however, as presiding, with other judges, on the trials of several persons charged with being concerned in the Popish Plot; and although his language and demeanour on those occasions were decorous and moderate, it is evident that he fully participated in the delusion which pervaded all classes of society respecting that transaction.
In the early part of 1680, Sir Robert Atkyns quitted the bench-whether by dismissal, or by his voluntary resignation, is uncertain. Possibly his disagreement with Chief Justice North may have led to his retirement. Roger North relates that he incited the other judges to dispute the right of the chief justice to the exclusive appointment of one of the officers of the court; and adds, that "Judge Atkyns took all opportunities to cross his lordship."