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V.-OBITUARY: THE RIGHT HONOURABLE
UDLOW of Heywood” is, stated fully and accurately,
the title bestowed upon the late Lord Justice Lopes on the occasion of his elevation to the Peerage, when the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee was celebrated in 1897, and shortly before his retirement from the Judicial Bench.
The word “ Ludlow” would alone happily unite, in a single word, alike the name of a place, which appears to be an indispensable requisite to the name of every Peerage, and the family name, which is an element in the title of many of the modern Peerages which have been bestowed upon lawyers, such as “Russell of Killowen,” or “ James of Hereford” and so on.
The late Lord Justice Lopes, the founder of the title, was, on his father's side, a scion of the wealthy Devonshire house of “Lopez.” But he derived alike the title of his Barony, and much of his property, from his mother, who was a Ludlow of Heywood, Wiltshire.
We, in Devon, make proud note of the successes of all those who are of the lineage of our leading families, whether their ancestors "came over with the Conqueror” or became inhabitants of the county within recorded memory. Accordingly, every Devonshire man, so soon as one of his fellowcountrymen attains fame of any sort, can usually at once tell you all about him and his fathers, and this, whether the celebrity be himself merely a quiet country parson, whose famous breed of game cocks has won him prizes at the county poultry shows, but whose ancestors were found here by the Conqueror when he came over; or be even a Lord Chancellor himself, known as a sound Churchman, but who had ancestors who, some three hundred years ago, gave the Quarter Sessions much trouble by their persistency in
continually appearing as “Popish recusants"; or, as in the present case, merely a judge, and the founder of a Peerage, whose family first settled in the county but a century ago!
The name of “Lopes,” or “Lopez," as it was formerly spelt, denotes an Oriental origin. For many generations, however, branches of the family would seem to have been settled in England since the name, though rare, has long been not wholly unfamiliar to the English Law. As far back as A.D. 1603, we find another form of it in the name of one of the parties to the famous case of Chandelor v. Lopus, immortalised in the memory of English lawyers in connection with the transaction with a "Bezoar stone," with the details of which they have long been familiar.
In the very year on which the first of the Stuarts began his reign the King's Courts tried an action for deceit brought by a Mr. Chandelor against a Mr. Lopus. Mr. Lopus, it will be recollected, had sold to Mr. Chandelor something which he “affirmed” to be "a Bezoar stone,” a substance much prized in India as a charm against snake-bites. As, however, no one at that time knew exactly what a Bezoar stone was-indeed, it is doubtful whether the real article is a stone at all, since the “ Bezoar stone” then was amongst precious stones like the unicorn amongst animals-an undiscovered mystery-Mr. Lopus' counsel had, doubtless, no trouble in persuading the jury that, when his client sold the thing, he really did not know whether it was a "bezoar” stone or not; while the Court were clear that, as matter of Law, no action would lie for a “deceit " which was not wilful and intentional. But, whatever the legal value of the case nowadays, we at least learn from it, in connection with the teaching of the Law, the earlier form of the name of Lopes, and get grounds for supposing that the Lopez family is at least as old in England as the Stuarts.
The founder of the Devonshire family of Lopes was the late Lord Justice's paternal great-uncle, and named Manasseh
Lopez. During the first few years of the present century, there appeared in Devonshire an energetic and successful man of business, then aged about forty-five years, who had been born in Jamaica in 1755, of a father who had come to that island from Clapham. We thus have unmistakable evidence of this branch of the Lopes family having been settled in England at least one hundred and fifty years ago, even if the connection with Mr. Lopus of James the First's days be not considered to be sufficiently clear. The new-comer purchased the pleasant country seat and estates of Maristow, near Plymouth, just under Roborough Down, * where his family have been settled ever since. Successful in business, he determined to be equally successful in social and political life. The road to success in both directions, after an aspirant had acquired an important landed estate, lay—to be brutally frank-through a generous expenditure in the rotten boroughs whose representatives in Parliament, in those days, governed the country, with the aid of their patrons in the House of Lords. England, at that time, swarmed with rich men-the “Nabob's " as they were called—who, having amassed large fortunes in the East, had returned to their native country to expend them in the acquisition of weight and importance alike in social and political life. In the previous century, the notorious Governor Pitt, of great diamond memory, had, by the transaction with the poor negro, which forms the subject of Cowper's well-known lines, derived a fortune, and had, with the fortune thus acquired, bought up sundry rotten borough constituencies. By the purchase of one of them (that of the borough of old Sarum), he had brought it about that the elder William Pitt should, when only a subaltern in the Blues, enter Parliament, become known among his contemporaries as “that terrible Cornet of Horse," acquire power in the land, and should, while himself becoming Earl
* In Devon, the scarlet briony is called “the ro-berry," and this plant is abundant in a small entrenchment on this Down.
of Chatham, render it comparatively easy for a man possessed of the great ability, which the younger Pitt unquestionably enjoyed, to become Prime Minister of England at an age when most men commence their professional careers at the Bar or in the Church.
Manasseh Lopez was probably not slow to observe the brilliant example just mentioned, as well as others which may have come under his notice. He, too, followed the fashion of the day, and, like his contemporaries, took his part in that traffic in rotten boroughs which then formed the staple of political life. Doubtless after taking a proper interest in its local politicians, he was, in 1802, returned as M.P. for the borough of New Romney. Being a man of enormous wealth, and possessed of a fortune, which, on his death in 1831), was estimated at the princely sum of eight hundred thousand pounds, he, during his first Parliament (viz. in 1805), had a baronetcy bestowed upon him. And being childless himself, he procured this baronetage to be granted with a “special remainder” to his nephew. This nephew was the son of his late sister Esther, by one Abraham Franco, a young man, who having been adopted by his maternal uncle, had become known as Ralph Lopez. Sir Manasseh, in the same year, obtained a royal licence to use the family name of “Massey," in addition to and before his own surname of Lopez, and the family still employ it.
Though he had thus quickly obtained his baronetcy, Sir Manasseh Massey Lopez did not, as is the manner of so many, at once retire from public life. For, in 1812, and again in 1818, he was returned to Parliament again as M.P. for Barnstaple—a borough never notorious for its purity. Corrupted, it may be, by long acquaintance with the fishermen freemen of this ancient borough, encouraged by the immunity which, as noted by Hallam, they had for centuries enjoyed, and possibly also with an eye to obtaining that peerage which in later years his great nephew so honourably earned, Sir Manasseh,
it is grievous to relate, obtained a seat in the next Parliament by dealings with the freemen of Grampound, which were in flagrant violation of the law as it then stood, and repugnant to the political morality of the day. At that time, patrons might sell boroughs, and that too for large sums, and aspiring and ambitious men might buy them at corresponding prices. Indeed, it had been recognized by the younger Pitt, during his abortive efforts to pass a Reform Bill, and even by Parliament itself in the Act of Union with Ireland, that the franchise of boroughs was the private property of those who owned them, and that any disenfranchisement of them was a proper subject for liberal "compensation.” But any direct dealing between the voters for a borough and a candidate who aspired to represent the "free and independent” body of the electors, was an illegal trafficking with votes, and punishable with the utmost rigour of the law. In short, political representation in those days apparently stood in much the same position as the right to present to an ecclesiastical benefice still occupies. Just as it is hideous “Simony” for an aspirant to the one to buy the next presentation for himself, so was it then illegal for the candidate for a borough to have direct money dealings with the electors. Sir Manasseh, however, dared to directly approach the freeholders of the borough of Grampound, who were at that time some sixty in number, and possessed by no owner of their borough, and to bargain with them to pay a sum of two thousand pounds which, when equally divided among them, gave each a sum of nearly thirty-five pounds, or possibly, after allowance for disappearances from the register by death and otherwise, a little more than that sum. The offence thus committed was as bad a one as that of which a candidate is guilty in these more moral days, if he distribute among the electors cards which can, by any ingenuity, be used as “cockades," instead of deluging his would-be constituency with coals and blankets through regularly organized channels, and under the name of “charity.”