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Among other west country lads who were educated at Winchester school as well as young Lopes, there was one Henry Clarke, the eldest son of the owner of the Manor of Efford, near Plymouth, which lay closely adjacent to Maristow. Mr. Henry Clarke, in later years, became a barrister himself, went the Western Circuit, and was Recorder of Tiverton until quite recently. It is not difficult to suppose that an increased intimacy was created between the families at Maristow and at Efford, from each having a son at Winchester school. However this may have been, Mr. Lopes, in 1854, and while still practising at the Chancery Bar, was married to Miss Cordelia Lucy Clarke, the eldest daughter of the Squire of Efford, and the sister of the Henry Clarke just mentioned. The marriage took place at the parish church of Egg Buckland, a village which is also near Plymouth. With characteristic prudence, the bridegroom, after the fashion of many rising members of the Bar, arranged that no undue waste of professional time should arise in consequence of his marriage, which accordingly took place during the long vacation.
Within a few years good fortune came to the bridegroom, and remained constant to him during the rest of his life. In 1857, or only three years after his marriage, Ralph Ludlow Lopes, his brother, was placed by the death of a near relative in possession of Sandridge Park, near Melksham, and thus caused to permanently withdraw from the Common Law Bar (at which he had acquired a considerable practice), and to take up his residence at Sandridge Park (where he died only a few years ago). Mr. Henry C. Lopes was not slow in seizing the advantage thus offered to him. From this time, he by degrees left the Equity Bar, diligently attended sessions and assizes, and took up the Common Law practice, with its large local and family connections, from which his brother Ralph had retired under such pleasant circumstances. For some years, indeed, his old address in Lincoln's Inn appears after his name in the Law List. His transition from
the Equity Bar to the Common Law one was, of course, gradual. Although he had occupied them for some time previously, he figures, for the first time, in the Law List for 1862, as having chambers in the Temple, at i, Elm Court. These he shared with Mr. John Digby, by whom they are still occupied. In the following year (1863) he and the late Mr. H. T. Cole, Q.C. (who had till then been in Brick Court), united together in taking the chambers in Goldsmith Building, Temple, subsequently, and still, held by Sir Arthur Collins, another member of the Western Circuit, and, till quite recently, Chief Justice of Madras.
Mr. H. C. Lopes, as a son of an influential county family in Devonshire, connected with Wiltshire through his mother's family, the Ludlows, himself a “man of parts," and already a barrister of considerable standing and experience, had not to wait long before acquiring business on circuit. While the bulk of his business was at first naturally at sessions, he quickly acquired considerable practice at assizes, and his work rapidly grew to be almost exclusively of a Common Law and circuit nature. This it was that led to his “emigration" from Lincoln's Inn to the Temple, as has been already noticed. The present writer's first recollection of Mr. Lopes was while the latter was still a junior, and while he was himself serving as an articled clerk to his uncle, the late Mr. John Daw, then a well-known solicitor in the West of England, practising at Exeter. Mr. Daw, who possessed a high-class commercial and conveyancing business, rarely engaged in Common Law cases, and still less frequently in criminal
When, however, he undertook either the one or the other, he usually did so in the interests of some important client, and always threw himself into the case with characteristic energy and zeal. Having undertaken a small and comparatively unimportant, though intricate, prosecution of a clerk, against whom a charge of embezzlement had been brought by a wealthy commercial man, which stood for trial
at the then approaching assizes, Mr. Daw had retained the rising sessions junior, Mr. H. C. Lopes, to conduct the prosecution. Anxious that there should be no slip in the case, he, without any notice to the counsel he had retained, betook himself to the old Guildhall at Exeter, during the Midsummer quarter sessions, to get a few words with him. The learned counsel naturally received an important local solicitor with all that courtesy and urbanity of which he was a master. He confessed, however, that he had (not unnaturally) left the papers in the case at his lodgings in Castle Street, in the upper part of the town, and close to the Castle, where the county sessions would be held next day. Catching sight of the writer, Mr. Lopes inquired who he was, and learning that he was the client's nephew and articled clerk, remarked that he could not trust every one amongst his papers, but that he was sure he might trust Mr. Daw's nephew and pupil, and asked the then modest and abashed law student whether he thought he could go to his rooms, pick out the required papers, and bring them to him at the Guildhall. This mission was, of course, undertaken. The messenger, then a very young and inexperienced youth, was tremendously impressed alike by this display of confidence in him, and by the very large number of papers amongst which he had to make search before finding those which were required at Exeter Guildhall. The incident afforded an introduction to Mr. Lopes, which the latter did not forget in after years when his messenger became himself a member of the Western Circuit.
A few years after this occurrence, and within the comparatively short period of about ten years after his joining the Common Law Bar, Mr. Lopes was in 1867) appointed Recorder of Exeter. In the following year, by the favour of the then owner of Werrington Park, he was returned as M.P. for Launceston-a constituency which he continued to represent in the Conservative interest until the year 1874.
A recordership and entrance into Parliament is often but
the forerunner of the acquisition of “silk.” It was so in the case of Mr. Lopes. Accordingly, in 1869, he was appointed a Q.C., on the recommendation of the late Lord Chancellor Hatherley.
Unfortunately, the acquisition of silk by Mr. Lopes was soon followed by a serious disagreement between him and the late Mr. H. T. Cole, who was already a Q.C.-a result which the profession well know often follows when a junior in the chambers of a practising Q.C. takes silk, and appears likely to himself become a rival for the same class of business, and for the patronage of the same clients. The name of the future judge accordingly appears in the Law List for 1870 as at 2, Paper Buildings, Temple, whither he had “emigrated,” where he had taken chambers, which he continued to hold up to his death, still occupied by the present Lord Ludlow. No good purpose would be served, however, by discussing in any detail the incidents of the rupture with the late Mr. Cole. It is enough to say that it, unfortunately, proved to be permanent, and caused a disappointment to many who (like the present writer) joined the circuit about this period, since it prevented them from becoming on terms of intimacy with two men, each of whom was, in truth, an excellent fellow, but prone to suspect any member of the Circuit, who was at all closely connected with the other, of "taking sides." It was the common misfortune alike of Cole and Lopes that no one of weight, or of an age which would justify him in intervening in a misunderstanding between two men junior to himself, was still left upon the circuit after both Karslake and Coleridge—who had themselves somehow contrived to to be always rivals, but never other than friends-had almost simultaneously left it.
Launceston, the borough for which Mr. Lopes had been returned in 1867, was notoriously a "pocket borough,” though it was one of the best type. It often returned eminent public men (the present Lord Chancellor and
Attorney-General having both, for instance, sat for the borough after Lopes), and was free from those gross forms of corruption which existed so notoriously in so many of our West Country boroughs, that none of them need be specified. Nevertheless, the M.P. for Launceston was almost; invariably returned for that borough at the bidding of the owner, for the moment, of the adjacent manor of Werrington Park.
About 1874, and in the years immediately succeeding it, Werrington Park more than once changed owners, and the borough of Launceston made a corresponding change in its M.P. For the law, with that strange inconsistency which sometimes permits it, especially if statute-made, to strain at gnats, but to swallow camels, long tolerated it that the owner of Werrington Park should return the M.P. for Launceston. A few years after Lopes had ceased to represent the Borough, an owner of Werrington Park, who had acquired the means to buy it by the pursuit of a trade abhorrent to Sir Wilfrid Lawson, being "heckled” at a town's meeting about his zeal in preserving rabbits, having hastily exclaimed, “Dthe rabbits ; shoot 'em all,” it was held that the majesty of the law had been violated by this open disregard of property and morals, the lord of Werrington who had been guilty of this outrageous act was unseated, and his “influence” in the Borough was thereby severely shaken. But in 1874, the influence of Werrington was still unbroken in the constituency; and Mr. Lopes, in consequence of the borough having changed hands, received a hint, more or less gentle, that he would be wise to seek the suffrages of another constituency. There being no opening for a Conservative candidate in the family seat at Westbury, the Q.C. of the Western Circuit gallantly assailed the adjacent borough of Frome, which had not long before returned to Parliament the well-known author of Tom Brown's School Days. The members of the Western Circuit heartily, so far as they could, gave moral and material support to the candidature of their