Attorney General for England and Wales


Attorney General for England and Wales

Her Majesty's Attorney General for England and Wales, usually known simply as the Attorney General, is the chief legal adviser of the Crown in England and Wales. The Attorney General represents the Queen and the Government in court, and has supervisory powers over prosecutions, which are the responsibility of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Crown Prosecution Service. The Attorney General also represents the Crown in many judicial proceedings relating to the public interest, e.g. the administration of charities and income tax. The Attorney General is assisted by the Solicitor General for England and Wales: both offices are filled by political appointees who must belong to either house of Parliament. The Attorney General is not usually a member of the Cabinet, but is called to advise it when necessary.

There are separate legal advisors for the other jurisdictions of the United Kingdom: see Law Officers of the Crown.

The Attorney General and the Solicitor General, despite their titles (an attorney in the common law courts was the equivalent of a solicitor in the courts of equity), have historically been barristers and Queen's Counsel. However, Harriet Harman QC MP, who was Solicitor General until May 2005, is a Solicitor. She was appointed as Queen's Counsel ex officio on taking up office as Solicitor General; she did not hold Higher Courts Rights of Audience and did not attain them during her time as a Law Officer. The Attorney General has precedence over all other barristers in the English Courts, and in the House of Lords has precedence over the Lord Advocate, even in Scottish cases. The Attorney General is addressed in court as "Mr Attorney" for a man, and "Madam Attorney" if the Attorney is female.

As well as Her Majesty's Attorney General, there is also an Attorney General to the Prince of Wales and an Attorney General to the Duchy of Lancaster. When there is a Queen consort or dowager, she also has an Attorney General, as did the late Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.

Since 1973 the Attorney General for England and Wales has also held the office of Attorney General for Northern Ireland.

Attorneys General of England (and Wales), 1277-present

13th century

*William de Boneville (1277 - 1278)
*William de Giselham (1278 - 1279)
*Gilbert de Thornton (1279 - 1280)
*Alanus de Walkingham (1280 - 1281)
*John le Fawconer (1281 - 1284)
*William de Selby (1284 - 1286)
*Gilbert de Thornton (1286 - 1286)
*William Inge (1286 - 1289)
*John de Bosco (1289 - 1290)

14th century

*William de Merston (February 26, 1327 - 1329)
*Richard de Aldeburgh (1329 - 1334)
*Simon de Trewythosa (c. 1334)
*William de Hepton (1334 - 1338)
*John de Lincoln (May 28, 1338 - August 4, 1338)
*John de Clone (August 4, 1338 - 1338)
*William de Merington (1338 - 1339)
*John de Clone (1339 - 1342)
*William de Thorpe (1342 - 1343)
*John de Lincoln (1343 - 1343)
*John de Clone (1343 - 1349)
*Simon de Kegworth (1349 - 1353)
*Henry de Greystok (1353 - 1356)
*John de Gaunt (1356 - May 4, 1360)
*Richard de Fryseby (May 4, 1360 - 1362)
*William (or possibly Robert) de Pleste (1362 - 1363)
*William de Nessefield (1363 - November 9, 1366)
*Thomas de Shardelow (November 9, 1366 - May 20, 1367)
*John de Ashwell (May 20, 1367 - 1367)
*Michael Skilling (1367 - 1378)
*Thomas de Shardelow (1378 - 1381)
*William Ellis (1381 - 1381)
*Laurence Dru (1381 - 1384)
*William de Horneby (1384 - 1386)
*Edmund Brudnell (1386 - 1398)
*Thomas Coveley (1398 - September 30, 1399)
*William de Lodington (September 30, 1399 - 1401)

15th century

*Thomas Coveley (1401 - July 13, 1407)
*Thomas Dereham (July 13, 1407 - August 17, 1407)
*Roger Hunt (August 17, 1407 - 1410)
*Thomas Tickhill (1410 - January 16, 1414)
*William Babington (January 16, 1414 - 1420)
*William Babthorpe (1420 - October 28, 1429)
*John Vampage (October 28, 1429 - June 30, 1452)
*William de Nottingham (June 30, 1452 - August 12, 1461)
*John Herbert (August 12, 1461 - 1461)
*Henry Sothill (1461 - June 16, 1471)
*William Hussey (June 16, 1471 - May 7, 1481)
*William Huddersfield (May 7, 1481 - May 28, 1483)
*Morgan Kydwelly (May 28, 1483 - September 20, 1485)
*William Hody (September 20, 1485 - November 3, 1486)
*James Hobart (November 3, 1486 - April 1509)

16th century

*John Ernley (April 1509 - January 26, 1518)
*John Fitz-James (January 26, 1518 - February 1522)
*John Roper (February 1522 - April 1, 1524)
*Ralph Swillington (April 1, 1524 - August 1525)
*Richard Lyster (August 1525 - June 3, 1529)
*Christopher Hales (June 3, 1529 - July 10, 1535)
*Sir John Baker (July 10, 1535 - November 8, 1540)
*Sir William Whorwood (November 8, 1540 - June 8, 1545)
*Henry Bradshaw (June 8, 1545 - May 21, 1552)
*Edward Griffin (May 21, 1552 - January 22, 1559)
*Sir Gilbert Gerard (January 22, 1559 - June 1, 1581)
*Sir John Popham (June 1, 1581 - June 2, 1592)
*Sir Thomas Egerton (June 2, 1592 - April 10, 1594)
*Sir Edward Coke (April 10, 1594 - July 4, 1606)

17th century

*Sir Henry Hobart (July 4, 1606 - October 27, 1613)
*Sir Francis Bacon (October 27, 1613 - March 12, 1617)
*Sir Henry Yelverton (March 12, 1617 - January 11, 1621)
*Sir Thomas Coventry (January 11, 1621 - October 31, 1625)
*Sir Robert Heath (October 31, 1625 - October 27, 1631)
*William Noy (October 27, 1631 - September 27, 1634)
*Sir John Banks (September 27, 1634 - January 29, 1641)
*Sir Edward Herbert (January 29, 1641 - November 3, 1645)
*Thomas Gardiner (royalist) (November 3, 1645 - 1649)
*Oliver St John (parliamentary) (May 1644 - January 10, 1649)
*William Steele (commonwealth) (January 10, 1649 - April 9, 1649)
*Edmund Prideaux (commonwealth) (April 9, 1649 - 1659)
*Robert Reynolds (commonwealth) (1659 - May 31, 1660)
*Sir Edward Herbert (in exile) (1649 - 1653)
*Sir Geoffrey Palmer, Bt (May 31, 1660 - May 10, 1670)
*Sir Heneage Finch (May 10, 1670 - November 12, 1673)
*Sir Francis North (November 12, 1673 - January 25, 1675)
*Sir William Jones (January 25, 1675 - October 27, 1679)
*Sir Creswell Levinge (October 27, 1679 - February 24, 1681)
*Sir Robert Sawyer (February 24, 1681 - December 13, 1687)
*Sir Thomas Powis (December 13, 1687 - December 1688)
*Sir Henry Pollexfen (March 1689 - May 4, 1689)
*Sir George Treby (May 4, 1689 - May 3, 1692)
*Sir John Somers (May 3, 1692 - March 30, 1693)
*Sir Edward Ward (March 30, 1693 - June 8, 1695)
*Sir Thomas Trevor (June 8, 1695 - June 28, 1701)

18th century

*Sir Edward Northey (June 28, 1701 - April 26, 1707)
*Sir Simon Harcourt (April 26, 1707 - October 22, 1708)
*Sir James Montagu (October 22, 1708 - September 19, 1710)
*Sir Simon Harcourt (September 19, 1710 - October 19, 1710)
*Sir Edward Northey (October 19, 1710 - March 18, 1718)
*Sir Nicholas Lechmere (March 18, 1718 - May 7, 1720)
*Sir Robert Raymond (May 7, 1720 - February 1, 1724)
*Sir Philip Yorke (February 1, 1724 - January 1734)
*Sir John Willes (January 1734 - January 28, 1737)
*Sir Dudley Ryder (January 28, 1737 - May 1754)
*William Murray (May 1754 - November 3, 1756)
*Sir Robert Henley (November 3, 1756 - July 1, 1757)
*Sir Charles Pratt (July 1, 1757 - January 25, 1762)
*Charles Yorke (January 25, 1762 - December 16, 1763)
*Sir Fletcher Norton (December 16, 1763 - September 17, 1765)
*Charles Yorke (September 17, 1765 - August 6, 1766)
*William de Grey (August 6, 1766 - January 26, 1771)
*Edward Thurlow (January 26, 1771 - June 11, 1778)
*Alexander Wedderburn (June 11, 1778 - July 21, 1780)
*James Wallace (July 21, 1780 - April 18, 1782)
*Lloyd Kenyon (April 18, 1782 - May 2, 1783)
*James Wallace (May 2, 1783 - November 1783) (died in office)
*John Lee (November 22, 1783 - December 19, 1783)
*Lloyd Kenyon (December 26, 1783 - March 31, 1784)
*Richard Pepper Arden (March 31, 1784 - June 28, 1788)
*Sir Archibald Macdonald (June 28, 1788 - February 14, 1793)
*Sir John Scott (February 14, 1793 - July 18, 1799)
*Sir John Mitford (July 18, 1799 - February 14, 1801)

19th century

*Sir Edward Law (February 14, 1801 - April 15, 1802)
*Spencer Perceval (April 15, 1802 - February 12, 1806)
*Sir Arthur Piggott (February 12, 1806 - April 1, 1807)
*Sir Vicary Gibbs (April 1, 1807 - June 26, 1812)
*Sir Thomas Plumer (June 26, 1812 - May 4, 1813)
*Sir William Garrow (May 4, 1813 - May 7, 1817)
*Sir Samuel Shepherd (May 7, 1817 - July 24, 1819)
*Sir Robert Gifford (July 24, 1819 - January 9, 1824)
*Sir John Copley (January 9, 1824 - September 20, 1826)
*Sir Charles Wetherell (September 20, 1826 - April 27, 1827)
*Sir James Scarlett (April 27, 1827 - February 19, 1828)
*Sir Charles Wetherell (February 19, 1828 - June 29, 1829)
*Sir James Scarlett (June 29, 1829 - November 19, 1830)
*Sir Thomas Denman (November 24, 1830 - November 26, 1832)
*Sir William Horne (November 26, 1832 - March 1, 1834)
*Sir John Campbell (March 1, 1834 - November 14, 1834)
*Sir Frederick Pollock (December 17, 1834 - April 8, 1835)
*Sir John Campbell (April 30, 1835 - July 3, 1841)
*Sir Thomas Wilde (July 3, 1841 - August 30, 1841)
*Sir Frederick Pollock (September 6, 1841 - April 15, 1844)
*Sir William Webb Follett (April 15, 1844 - June 29, 1845)
* Sir Frederic Thesiger (June 29, 1845 - June 27, 1846)
* Sir Thomas Wilde (July 7, 1846 - July 17, 1846)
* Sir John Jervis (July 17, 1846 - July 11, 1850)
* Sir John Romilly (July 11, 1850 - March 28, 1851)
* Sir Alexander Cockburn (March 28, 1851 - February 21, 1852)
* Sir Frederic Thesiger (February 27, 1852 - December 17, 1852)
* Sir Alexander Cockburn (December 28, 1852 - November 15, 1856)
* Sir Richard Bethell (November 15, 1856 - February 21, 1858)
* Sir Fitzroy Kelly (February 21, 1858 - June 11, 1859)
* Sir Richard Bethell (June 18, 1859 - July 4, 1861)
* Sir William Atherton (July 4, 1861 - October 2, 1863)
* Sir Roundell Palmer (October 2, 1863 - June 26, 1866)
* Sir Hugh Cairns (July 10, 1866 - October 29, 1866)
* Sir John Rolt (October 29, 1866 - July 18, 1867)
* Sir John Burgess Karslake (July 18, 1867 - December 1, 1868)
* Sir Robert Collier (December 12, 1868 - November 10, 1871)
* Sir John Duke Coleridge (November 10, 1871 - November 20, 1873)
* Sir Henry James (November 20, 1873 - February 17, 1874)
* Sir John Burgess Karslake (February 27, 1874 - April 20, 1874)
* Sir Richard Baggallay (April 20, 1874 - November 25, 1875)
* Sir John Holker (November 25, 1875 - April 21, 1880)
* Sir Henry James (May 3, 1880 - June 9, 1885)
* Sir Richard Everard Webster (June 27, 1885 - January 28, 1886)
* Sir Charles Arthur Russell (February 9, 1886 - July 20, 1886)
* Sir Richard Everard Webster (August 5, 1886 - August 11, 1892)
* Sir Charles Arthur Russell (August 20, 1892 - May 3, 1894)
*Sir John Rigby (May 3, 1894 - October 24, 1894)
* Sir Robert Reid (October 24, 1894 - June 21, 1895)
* Sir Richard Webster (July 8, 1895 - May 7, 1900)

20th century

* Sir Robert Finlay (May 7, 1900 - December 4, 1905)
* Sir John Lawson Walton (December 12, 1905 - January 28, 1908)
* Sir William Robson (January 28, 1908 - October 7, 1910)
* Sir Rufus Isaacs (October 7, 1910 - October 19, 1913)
* Sir John Simon (October 19, 1913 - May 25, 1915)
* Sir Edward Carson (May 25, 1915 - October 19, 1915) (resigned)
* Sir F. E. Smith (November 3, 1915 - January 10, 1919)
* Sir Gordon Hewart (January 10, 1919 - March 6, 1922)
* Sir Ernest Pollock (March 6, 1922 - October 19, 1922)
* Sir Douglas Hogg (October 24, 1922 - January 22, 1924)
* Sir Patrick Hastings (January 23, 1924 - November 3, 1924)
* Sir Douglas Hogg (November 6, 1924 - March 28, 1928)
* Sir Thomas Inskip (March 28, 1928 - June 4, 1929)
* Sir William Jowitt (June 7, 1929 - January 26, 1932)
* Sir Thomas Inskip (January 26, 1932 - March 18, 1936)
* Sir Donald Somervell (March 18, 1936 - May 25, 1945)
* Sir David Maxwell Fyfe (May 25, 1945 - July 26, 1945)
* Sir Hartley Shawcross (August 4, 1945 - April 24, 1951)
* Sir Frank Soskice (April 24, 1951 - October 26, 1951)
* Sir Lionel Heald (November 3, 1951 - October 18, 1954)
* Sir Reginald Manningham-Buller (October 18, 1954 - July 16, 1962)
* Sir John Hobson (July 16, 1962 - October 16, 1964)
* Sir Elwyn Jones (October 18, 1964 - June 19, 1970)
* Sir Peter Rawlinson (June 23, 1970 - March 4, 1974)
*Samuel Silkin (March 7, 1974 - May 4, 1979)
* Sir Michael Havers (May 6, 1979 - June 13, 1987)
* Sir Patrick Mayhew (June 13, 1987 - April 10, 1992)
* Sir Nicholas Lyell (April 10, 1992 - May 2, 1997)
* Sir John Morris (May 6, 1997 - July 29, 1999)
*The Lord Williams of Mostyn (July 29, 1999 - June 11, 2001)

21st Century

*The Lord Goldsmith (June 11, 2001 - june 27, 2007)
*The Baroness Scotland of Asthal (June 27, 2007 - present)


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