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Bosanquet, Sir John Bernardlocked

  • G. F. R. Barker
  • , revised by Hugh Mooney

Bosanquet, Sir John Bernard (1773–1847), judge, was born at Forest House, Waltham Forest, on 2 May 1773, the youngest son of Samuel Bosanquet (1744–1806) of Waltham Forest and Dingestow Court, Monmouthshire, governor of the Bank of England in 1792, and his wife, Eleanor (c.1745–1819), daughter of Henry Lannoy Hunter of Beechill, Berkshire. Charles Bosanquet was his elder brother. He was educated at Eton College and Christ Church, Oxford, where he graduated BA on 9 June 1795 and MA on 20 March 1800. Admitted a student of Lincoln's Inn on 22 January 1794, Bosanquet was called to the bar on 9 May 1800 and joined the home circuit. He also attended the Essex sessions, of which his father was chairman. Before being called to the bar, with Christopher Puller he jointly founded Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Court of Common Pleas and Exchequer Chamber, and in the House of Lords, which appeared in two series, the first in three volumes from 1796 to 1804, and the second in two volumes from 1804 to 1807.

In 1804 Bosanquet married Mary Anne, the eldest daughter of Richard Lewis of Llandeilo Gresynni, Monmouthshire; they had only one son, who predeceased his father. Family influence ensured early success in Bosanquet's career at the bar and he was appointed standing counsel to the East India Company (1814) and to the Bank of England (1819). On 22 November 1814 he was made a serjeant-at-law, and in thirteen years conducted numerous bank prosecutions, which were widely reported. In 1824 he declined the appointment of chief justice of Bengal, and in 1827 was made king's serjeant. On 16 May 1828 he was appointed to the commission inquiring into the practice of the common-law courts, a committee which he presided over for three years. On the retirement of Sir James Burrough, Bosanquet was made a judge of the court of common pleas on 1 February 1830, and was knighted on the following day. On 4 September 1833 he was sworn a member of the privy council, and from then until 1840 he sat regularly on its judicial committee.

On the resignation of lord chancellor Lyndhurst, Bosanquet, together with Sir Charles Pepys, the master of the rolls, and Sir Lancelot Shadwell, the vice-chancellor, was appointed lord commissioner of the great seal. This commission lasted from 23 April 1835 to 16 January 1836, when Pepys was made lord chancellor.

After eleven years of judicial work Bosanquet was compelled by ill health to retire in 1842. He died at The Firs, Hampstead Heath, on 25 September 1847 and was buried at Llandeilo Gresynni.

Bosanquet was remembered not simply for his abilities as a judge but also as a man of considerable learning with a taste for biblical scholarship. In an anonymous tract, entitled Letter of a Layman, he attempted to demonstrate a connection between the books of Daniel and the Apocalypse.


  • Annual Register (1847)
  • Law Times (13 Nov 1847), 122
  • GM, 2nd ser., 28 (1847), 537–8, 661
  • Foss, Judges, 9.149–51
  • N&Q, 6th ser., 10 (1884), 147


  • NRA, priv. coll., notebooks and corresp.


  • W. J. Ward, mezzotint (after H. W. Pickersgill), BM, NPG
  • monument, parish church, Dingestow, Monmouthshire
  • portrait, Eton
E. Foss, , 9 vols. (1848–64); repr. (1966)
Notes and Queries
Gentleman's Magazine