Lloyd Kenyon, 1st Baron Kenyon

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Lloyd Kenyon, 1st Baron Kenyon (5 October 1732 – 4 April 1802) was a British politician and barrister, who served as Attorney General, Master of the Rolls and Lord Chief Justice of the United Kingdom.

Quotes[edit]

  • The discussion which was made by Luther, Melancthon, and the other persons who preceded the Reformation, opened the eyes or the public; and they got rid of the delusions which had been spread by the Pope of Rome, and emancipated mankind from the spiritual tyranny they were under, and brought about the establishment of that religion which we now enjoy in this country.
    • Reeves' Case (1754), 26 How. St. Tr. 591.
  • I desire that after I have given the judgment of the Court, that judgment may not be talked about; I have given it upon my oath, and am answerable to my country for it. I have been before reminded that these things are not passing in a corner, but in the open face of the world ; I hope I need not be admonished that I am to administer justice; if I have done amiss, let the wrath and indignation of Parliament be brought out against me; let me be impeached; I am ready to meet the storm whenever it comes, having at least one protection; the consciousness that I am right. In protecting the dignity of the Court, I do the best thing I can do for the public: for if my conduct here is extra-judicially arraigned, the administration of justice is arraigned and affronted, and that no man living shall do with impunity.
    • Proceedings against the Dean of St. Asaph (1783), 21 How. St. Tr. 875.
  • Modus in rebus—there must be an end of things.
    • Proceedings against the Dean of St. Asaph (1783), 21 How. St. Tr. 875.
  • The use of cases is to establish principles; if the cases decide different from the principles, I must follow the principles, not the decisions.
    • Duke of Leeds v. New Radnor (1788), 2 Brown's Rep. (by Belt), 339.
  • What is clear to one man may be doubtful to another.
    • Godfrey v. Hudson (1788), 2 Esp. 500.
  • There are certain irregularities which are not the subject of criminal law. But when the criminal law happens to be auxiliary to the law of morality, I do not feel any inclination to explain it away.
    • Young and others v. The King (1789), 3 T. R. 102.
  • It is a rule that those who come into a Court of justice to seek redress, must come with clean hands, and must disclose a transaction warranted by law.
    • Petrie v. Hannay (1789), 3 T. R. 422.
  • There are many situations in life, and particularly in the commercial world, where a man cannot by any diligence inform himself of the degree of credit which ought to be given to the persons with whom he deals; in which cases he must apply to those whose sources of intelligence enable them to give that information. The law of prudence leads him to apply to them, and the law of morality ought to induce them to give the information required.
    • Pasley v. Freeman (1789), 3 T. R. 51.
  • All laws stand on the best and broadest basis which go to enforce moral and social duties.
    • Pasley v. Freeman (1789), 3 T. R. 51.
  • There are cases where examinations are admitted, namely, before the coroner, and before magistrates in cases of felony. That appears to me to go rather in support of the general rule than in destruction of it. Every exception that can be accounted for is so much a confirmation of the rule that it has become a maxim, Exceptio probat regulam.
    • The King v. Inhabitants of Eriswell (1790), 3 T. R. 722.
  • No stops are ever inserted in Acts of Parliament, or in deeds; but the Courts of law, in construing them, must read them with such stops as will give effect to the whole.
    • Doe d. Willis and others v. Martin and others (1790), 4 T. R. 65.
  • The popish religion is now unknown to the law of this country.
    • Du Barre v. Livette (1791), Peake's N. P. Cases, 79.
  • It is of infinite importance to the public that the acts of magistrates should not only be substantially good, but also that they should be decorous.
    • The King v. Sainsbury (1791), 4 T. R. 456.
  • The family consists of those who live under the same roof with the pater familias; those who form (if I may use the expression) his fire-side.
    • R. v. Inhabitants of Darlington (1792), 4 T. R. 800.
  • Though this motion for a new trial is an application to the discretion of the Court, it must be remembered that the discretion to be exercised on such an occasion is not a wild but a sound discretion, and to be confined within those limits within which an honest man, competent to discharge the duties of his office, ought to confine himself. And that discretion will be best exercised by not deviating from the rules laid down by our predecessors; for the practice of the Court forms the law of the Court.
    • Wilson v. Rastall (1792), 4 T. R. 757.
  • The practice of the Court forms the law of the Court.
    • Wilson v. Rastall (1792), 4 T. R. 757.
  • There is no magic in words.
    • King v. Inhabitants of North Nibley (1792), 5 T. R. 24; Lord Romilly, Lord v. Jeffkins (1865), 35 Beav. 16.
  • In the hurry of business, the most able Judges are liable to err.
    • Cotton v. Thurland (1793), 5 T. R. 409.
  • Equity will go no further than the law.
    • Tooke v. Hollingworth (1793), 5 T. R. 225.
  • The liberty of the press has always been, and has justly been, a favourite topic with Englishmen. They have looked at it with jealousy whenever it has been invaded; and though a licenser was put over the press, and was suffered to exist for some years after the coming of William, and after the revolution, yet the reluctant spirit of English liberty called for a repeal of that law; and from that time to this it has not been shackled and limited more than it ought to be.
    • Case of John Lambert and others (1793), 22 How. St. Tr. 1016.
  • It is not for human judgment to dive into the heart of man, to know whether his intentions are good or evil.
    • Case of John Lambert and others (1793), 22 How. St. Tr. 1018.
  • The character of the Judges is public property, and if they have done anything amiss, they ought to be censured. But if not, their characters ought to be respected; otherwise the most mischievous consequences will arise to the public.
    • Holt's Case (1793), 22 How. St. Tr. 1234.
  • It cannot but occur to every person's observation, that as long as parties exist in the country (and perhaps it is for the good of the country that parties should exist to a certain degree, because they keep ministers on their guard in their conduct), they will have their friends and adherents. A great political character, who held a high situation in this country some years ago, but who is now dead, used to say that ministers were the better for being now and then a little peppered and salted. And while these parties exist, they will have their friendships and attainments, which will sometimes dispose them to wander from argument to declamation.
    • Holt's Case (1793), 22 How. St. Tr. 1234.
  • With regard to the construction of statutes according to the intention of the legislature, we must remember that there is an essential difference between the expounding of modern and ancient Acts of Parliament. In early times the legislature used (and I believe it was a wise course to take) to pass laws in general and in few terms; they were left to the Courts of law to be construed so as to reach all the cases within the mischief to be remedied. But in modern times great care has been taken to mention the particular cases in the contemplation of the legislature, and therefore the Courts are not permitted to take the same liberty in construing them as they did in expounding the ancient statutes.
    • Bradley and another v. Clark (1793), 5 T. R. 201.
  • What a man does in his closet ought not to affect the rights of third persons.
    • Outram v. Morewood (1793), 5 T. R. 123.
  • It is necessary to the administration of justice that every person who is accused of a crime should have an opportunity of being heard in his defence against the charge of which he is accused.
    • The King v. Justices of Surrey (1794), 6 T. R. 78.
  • Every irregularity is not erroneous.
    • Jackson v. Hunter (1794), 6 T. R. 74.
  • Many people there are in this kingdom who never see a Gazette to the day of their deaths, and very mischievous would be the consequences if they were bound by a notice inserted in it.
    • Graham v. Hope (1794), 1 Peake, N. P. Ca. 155; reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 99.
  • It is the great duty of every Court of justice to administer justice as well as they can between the litigating parties ; another, and not less material, duty is to satisfy those parties that the whole case has been examined and considered.
    • Booth v. Hodgson (1795), 6 T. R. 408.
  • It is a maxim in our law that a plaintiff must shew that he stands on a fair ground when he calls on a Court of justice to administer relief to him.
    • Booth v. Hodgson (1795), 6 T. R. 409.
  • In many cases a party undertakes to prove a custom from the time of legal memory, the reign of Richard the Second; but that proof is generally established by evidence of acts done at a much later period, and frequently no evidence is given beyond the present century.
    • Withnell v. Gartham (1795), 6 T. R. 397.
  • He had no right to take the law into his own hands.
    • Tarleton v. McGawley (1795), 2 Peake, N. P. Ca. 208
  • The legislature have anxiously provided for those most useful and deserving body of men, the seamen and marines of this country.
    • Turtle v. Hartwell (1795), 6 T. R. 429.
  • It is of great importance that the laws by which the contracts of so numerous and so useful a body of men as the sailors are supposed to be guided, should not be overturned.
    • Cutter v. Powell (1795), 6 T. R. 320.
  • It is sometimes difficult to get rid of first impressions.
    • Withnell v. Gartham (1795), 6 T. R. 396.
  • A Court of equity can mould interests differently from a Court of law; and can give relief in cases where a Court of law cannot.
    • Clayton v. Adams (1796), 6 T. R. 605.
  • Courts of equity make their decrees so as to arrive at the justice of the case without violating the rules of law.
    • Clayton v. Adams (1796), 6 T. R. 605.
  • We must not, by any whimsical conceits supposed to be adapted to the altering fashions of the times, overturn the established law of the land: it descended to us as a sacred charge, and it is our duty to preserve it.
    • Clayton v. Adams (1796), 6 T. R. 605.
  • Concessions made for the purpose of settling the business for which the action is brought, cannot be given in evidence; but facts admitted I have always received.
    • Turner v. Railton (1796), 2 Esp. 475.
  • Concessions made for the purpose of settling the business for which the action is brought, cannot be given in evidence; but facts admitted I have always received.
    • Turner v. Railton (1796), 2 Esp. 475.
  • Really I wish I was more acquainted than I am, with the course of criminal jurisdiction—if the question had never been decided, I should have extreme doubts upon it, and those extreme doubts which I should have would lead me in a criminal case to do otherwise than I should do in a civil case—in every civil case [I speak in the hearing of a great many professional gentlemen] wherever I have serious doubts, I follow the doctrine which I have collected to be laid down by Lord Hardwicke; I receive the evidence, giving the jury the best instruction I can upon the effect of it; and I do it in the case of civil proceedings, without running the risk of doing any hurt, because if I receive it improperly, a season will come when the Court can correct my error.
    • Stone's Case (1796), 25 How. St. Tr. 1272.
  • We are all desirous to sit as long as we can, but necessity justifies that which it compels; the strength of man is not adequate to this. Lord Mansfield, as little inclined to give way as any man, did give way at a certain hour in the case of Lord Pomfret.
    • Stone's Case (1796), 25 How. St. Tr. 1290.
  • The wishes of every human man are, that guilt may not be fixed upon any man; but I confess I am one of those who have not the weakness—which weakness, a Judge at least, and a jury, must get rid of, before they fit themselves to fill the respective stations which they are to fill in the administration of the justice of the country— I say, therefore, I am not one of those who wish under false compassion, inconsistent with the administration of criminal justice, that a person on whom guilt is fairly fixed, should escape the punishment which the law annexes to his guilt.
    • Stone's Case (1796), 25 How. St. Tr. 1423.
  • The power of free discussion is the right of every subject of this country. It is a right to the fair exercise of which we are indebted more than to any other that was ever claimed by Englishmen. All the blessings we at present enjoy might be ascribed to it.
    • King v. Reeves (1796), Peake's Nisi Prius Cases, 85.
  • That corporations are the creatures of the Crown must be universally admitted.
    • King v. Ginever (1796), 6 T. R. 735.
  • Two universities have been founded in this country, amply endowed and furnished with professors in the different sciences; and I should be sorry that those who have been educated at either of them should undervalue the benefits of such an education.
    • King v. The College of Physicians (1797), 7 T. R. 288.
  • Those regulations that are adapted to the common race of men are the best.
    • King v. The College of Physicians (1797), 7 T. R. 288.
  • I do not know how far I ought to sit here and suffer a gentleman at the bar to bring forward parts of the Bible in this way. It is for you, gentlemen of the jury, to say whether you wish to hear them read.
    • Williams' Case (1797), 26 How. St. Tr. 683.
  • If people with the very best intentions carry on prosecutions that are oppressive, the end may not always perhaps sanctify the means.
    • Williams' Case (1797), 26 How. St. Tr. 704.
  • It is impossible for the Court to foresee when a sentence begins how it will end, and, sometimes, mischief is done before we are sure that the sentence will conclude in an offensive manner.
    • Williams' Case (1797), 26 How. St. Tr. 709.
  • A conviction is in the nature of a verdict and judgment, and therefore it must be precise and certain.
    • King v. Harris (1797), 7 T. R. 238.
  • I take it that the judgment is an essential point in every conviction, let the punishment be fixed or not.
    • King v. Harris (1797), 7 T. R. 239.
  • I should be extremely sorry to find that in a fictitious proceeding, instituted for the more easy attaining of justice, different rules were to obtain in the different Courts.
    • Goodright v. Rich (1797), 7 T. R. 334.
  • Sitting in a Court of law, I can receive no evidence but what comes under the sanction of an oath.
    • Wright v. Barnard (1797), 2 Esp. 701.
  • Apprentices and servants are characters perfectly distinct: the one receives instruction, the other a stipulated price for his labour.
    • The King v. Inhabitants of St. Paul's, Bedford (1797), 6 T. R. 454.
  • Some modern cases have in my opinion gone too far.
    • Walford v. Duchess de Pienne (1797), 2 Esp. 555.
  • Whatever might have been my opinion, had this been a new case, I must hold myself bound by decided cases.
    • Cross v. Glode (1797), 2 Esp. 575.
  • A plaintiff who comes into a Court of justice must show that he is in a condition to maintain his action.
    • Morton v. Lamb (1797), 7 T. R. 129.
  • Precedent goes in support of justice.
    • Smith v. Bowles (1797), 2 Esp. 578.
  • Notwithstanding all the care and anxiety of the persons who frame Acts of Parliament to guard against every event, it frequently turns out that certain cases were not foreseen.
    • Farmer v. Legg (1797), 7 T. R. 190.
  • We ought not to decide hastily against the words of an Act of Parliament.
    • King v. Justices of Flintshire (1797), 7 T. R. 200.
  • Proceedings at law are sufficiently expensive.
    • Marriott v. Hampton (1797), 2 Esp. 548.
  • It was said by a very learned Judge, Lord Macclesfield, towards the beginning of this century that the most effectual way of removing land marks would be by innovating on the rules of evidence; and so I say. I have been in this profession more than forty years, and have practised both in Courts of law and equity; and if it had fallen to my lot to form a system of jurisprudence, whether or not I should have thought it advisable to establish two different Courts with different jurisdictions, and governed by different rules, it is not necessary to say. But, influenced as I am by certain prejudices that have become inveterate with those who comply with the systems they found established, I find that in these Courts proceeding by different rules a certain combined system of jurisprudence has been framed most beneficial to the people of this country, and which I hope I may be indulged in supposing has never yet been equalled in any other country on earth. Our Courts of law only consider legal rights: our Courts of equity have other rules, by which they sometimes supersede those legal rules, and in so doing they act most beneficially for the subject. We all know that, if the Courts of law were to take into their consideration all the jurisdiction belonging to Courts of equity, many bad consequences would ensue. To mention only the single instance of legacies being left to women who may have married inadvertently: if a Court of law could entertain an action for a legacy, the husband would recover it, and the wife might be left destitute: but if it be necessary in such a case to go into equity, that Court will not suffer the husband alone to reap the fruits of the legacy given to the wife; for one of its rules is that he who asks equity must do equity, and in such a case they will compel the husband to make a provision for the wife before they will suffer him to get the money. I exemplify the propriety of keeping the jurisdictions and rules of the different Courts distinct by one out of a multitude of cases that might be adduced. . . . One of the rules of a Court of equity is that they cannot decree against the oath of the party himself on the evidence of one witness alone without other circumstances: but when the point is doubtful, they send it to be tried at law, directing that the answer of the party shall be read on the trial; so they may order that a party shall not set up a legal term on the trial, or that the plaintiff himself shall be examined; and when the issue comes from a Court of equity with any of these directions the Courts of law comply with the terms on which it is so directed to be tried. By these means the ends of justice are attained, without making any of the stubborn rules of law stoop to what is supposed to be the substantial justice of each particular case; and it is wiser so to act than to leave it to the Judges of the law to relax from those certain and established rules by which they are sworn to decide.
    • Bauerman v. Eadenius (1798), 7 T. R. 667.
  • I hope that there is no jealousy, or even ground of jealousy, on the part of the Americans, but that they know that when their rights come to be discussed here the greatest attention will be paid to their interests. They have long been acquainted with the habits of this country, and with the mode of administering justice here : until within these few years their causes used to come over here to be discussed, and I never heard that the decisions in our Courts ever awakened the least jealousy in the breasts of the inhabitants of that country.
    • Wilson v. Marryat (1798), 8 T. R. 44.
  • The liberty of the press is dear to England; the licentiousness of the press is odious to England: the liberty of it can never be so well protected as by beating down the licentiousness.
    • Cuthell's Case (1799), 27 How. St. Tr. 674.
  • A man may publish anything which twelve of his countrymen think not blamable.
    • Cuthell's Case (1799), 27 How. St. Tr. 675.
  • In dispensing the criminal justice of the country, we have sometimes an arduous task to perform. It is not a pleasant thing, most certainly, to condemn any one of our fellow creatures to punishment; but those who are entrusted with the administration of the criminal justice of a country, must summon up their fortitude, and render justice to the public, as well as justice tempered with mercy to the individual.
    • Trial of the Earl of Thanet, and others (1799), 27 How. St. Tr. 939.
  • Counsel are frequently induced, and they are justified in taking the most favourable view of their clients' case; and it is not fair to pass over any piece of evidence they find difficult to deal with, provided they cite, fairly and correctly, those parts of the evidence they comment upon.
    • Trial of the Earl of Thanet, and others (1799), 27 How. St. Tr. 940.
  • I can't look to contingencies.
    • Sikes v. Marshal (1799), 2 Esp. 707.
  • I have been reminded that I sit here as counsel for the defendant. I certainly do so, so far as to interpose between him and the counsel for the prosecution, and to see that no improper use of the law is made against him, and that no improper evidence is given to the jury: but the Judge has another task to perform, which is that of assisting the jury in the administration of justice.
    • Wakefield's Case (1799), 27 How. St. Tr. 736.
  • All Governments rest mainly on public opinion, and to that of his own subjects every wise Sovereign will look. The opinion of his subjects will force a Sovereign to do his duty, and by that opinion will he be exalted or depressed in the politics of the world.
    • Trial of John Vint and others (1799), 27 How. St. Tr. 640.
  • The learned counsel has very properly avoided all political discussions unconnected with the subject, and I shall follow his example. Courts of justice have nothing to do with them.
    • Trial of John Vint and others (1799), 27 How. St. Tr. 640.
  • If an infant commit an assault, or utter slander, God forbid that he should not be answerable for it in a Court of justice.
    • Jennings v. Rundall (1799), 8 T.R. 337.
  • The natural leaning of our minds is in favour of prisoners; and in the mild manner in which the laws of this country are executed, it has rather been a subject of complaint by some that the Judges have given way too easily to mere formal objections on behalf of prisoners, and have been too ready on slight grounds to make favourable representations of their cases. Lord Hale himself, one of the greatest and best men who ever sat in judgment, considered this extreme facility as a great blemish, owing to which more offenders escaped than by the manifestation of their innocence." We must, however, take care not to carry this disposition too far, lest we loosen the bands of society, which is kept together by the hope of reward, and the fear of punishment. It has been always considered, that the Judges in our foreign possessions abroad were not bound by the rules of proceeding in our Courts here. Their laws are often altogether distinct from our own. Such is the case in India and other places. On appeals to the Privy Council from our colonies, no formal objections are attended to, if the substance of the matter or the corpus delicti sufficiently appear to enable them to get at the truth and justice of the case.
    • King v. Suddis (1800), 1 East, 314. Lord Kenyon is later reported to have written, "I once before had occasion to refer to the opinion of a most eminent Judge, who was a great Crown lawyer, upon the subject, I mean Lord Hale; who even in his time lamented the too great strictness which had been required in indictments, and which had grown to be a blemish and inconvenience in the law; and observed that more offenders escaped by the over easy ear given to exceptions in indictments than by their own innocence". King v. Airey (c. 1800), 2 East, 34.
  • A Court of equity knows its own province.
    • Mayor, &c. of Southampton v. Graves (1800), 8 T. R. 592.
  • Though in a state of society some must have greater luxuries and comforts than others, yet all should have the necessaries of life; and if the poor cannot exist, in vain may the rich look for happiness or prosperity. The legislature is never so well employed as when they look to the interests of those who are at a distance from them in the ranks of society. It is their duty to do so: religion calls for it; humanity calls for it; and if there are hearts who are not awake to either of those feelings, their own interests would dictate it.
    • Rex v. Rusby (1800), Peake's N. P. Cases 192.
  • We are obliged to hear all that witnesses have to say; but it is a canticle of Courts of justice that witnesses non numerentur sed ponderentur: they are not to be numbered but weighed. It is the nature of the human mind, it is the perfection of the human heart, to serve a friend in distress; but in doing so, a man should not transgress the higher calls of religion and morality, the obligations of an oath. We are not monks and recluses, as was said in another place,1 but come from a class in society that I hope and believe gives us opportunities of seeing as much of the world, and that has as much virtue amongst its members as any other, however elevated.
    • Rex v. Rusby (1800), Peake's N. P. Ca. 193.
  • The common law, though not to be found in the written records of the realm, yet has been long well known. It is coeval with civilised society itself, and was formed from time to time by the wisdom of man. Good sense did not come with the Conquest, or at any other one time, but grew and increased from time to time with the wisdom of mankind.
    • Rex v. Rusby (1800), Peake's N. P. Cases, 193.
  • I cannot help observing, that many of those who have written in support of our ancient system of jurisprudence, the growth of the wisdom of man for so many ages, are not as they are alleged by some to be men writing from their closets without any knowledge of the affairs of life, but persons mixing with the mass of society, and capable of receiving practical experience of the soundness of the maxims they inculcate.
    • King v. Waddington (1800), 1 East, 157.
  • We must judge of a man's motives from his overt acts.
    • King v. Waddington (1800), 1 East, 158.
  • It is our duty to take care that persons in pursuing their own particular interests do not transgress those laws which were made for the benefit of the whole community.
    • King v. Waddington (1800), 1 East, 158.
  • I have often thought since that there is sound sense in what was once said by the late Lord C. J. Eyre, that the sooner a bad precedent was gotten rid of, the better.
    • King v. Stone (1800), 1 East, 648 n. (a).
  • Justice requires that a party should be duly summoned and fully heard before he is condemned.
    • King v. Stone (1800), 1 East, 649.
  • It is necessary for Courts of Justice to hold a strict hand over summary proceedings before magistrates, and I never will agree to relax any of the rules by which they have been bound. Their jurisdiction is of a limited nature, and they must shew that the party was brought within it.
    • King v. Stone (1800), 1 East, 650.
  • The interest of the public is never better advanced than when we can inculcate by our rules the advantage of acting honestly.
    • Cuming v. Sharland (1801), 1 East, 413.
  • No person is less disposed than I am to accommodate the law to the particular convenience of the case: but I am always glad when I find the strict law and the justice of the case going hand in hand together.
    • Peaceable v. Read and others (1801), 1 East. 573.

Eaton's Case (1793)[edit]

Eaton's Case (1793), 22 How. St. Tr. 820-21.
  • The situation the Lord Mayor holds is the first officer of the first city in the world in point of commerce and riches, and everything that can constitute the magnificence of a city. He is a judicial officer, and a municipal officer too, and from these combined characters there are duties incumbent upon him, which by all the ties that can bind a man to the discharge of duty, he is bound to discharge. It stands at the head of his duties, next after protecting the religion which binds us to God, to govern that civil policy which binds government together, and prevents us from being a state of anarchy and confusion.
  • If I were master of eloquence I would not make the decision of this cause a stage upon which I would display that eloquence. Those things which are very proper for advocates to do, become very improper for the Judge, who has nothing to do, but to state to the jury the short grounds upon which the cause ought to proceed.
  • I have heard that it was the perfection of the administration of criminal justice to take care that the punishment should come to few and the example to many.
  • To enter into the hearts of men belongs to him who can explore the human heart.

About[edit]

  • I must treat with reverence everything which Lord Kenyon has said: but not everything which text writers have represented him to have said, which he did not say.
    • Lefroy, C.J., Persse v. Kinneen (1859), (Lr. Rep.) L. T. Vol. 1 (N. S.), 78.
  • My Lord... it would be well if you would stick to your good law and leave off your bad Latin.
    • George III of the United Kingdom; reported in John Campbell, The Lives of the Chief Justices of England: From the Norman Conquest till the death of Lord Tenterden (2006), p. 58.

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