Henry McCardie


1869 – 1933


Who was Henry McCardie?

Sir Henry Alfred McCardie was a controversial British judge. Educated at King Edward's School, Birmingham he left school at 16 and spent several years working for an auctioneer before qualifying as a barrister and being called to the Bar in 1894. Despite his lack of a university degree and the business connections that went with it McCardie built up a successful practice in Birmingham and the Midland and Oxford Circuit through a combination of clear arguments, confident advocacy and intense work; he worked so late in his chambers that they became known as "the lighthouse". He moved to London to continue work in 1904 and was a popular barrister, on one day handling twenty-one cases in twenty-one different courts. At the peak of his career he was earning £20,000 while still a junior barrister; a massive amount for that period.

He was appointed as a judge of the High Court King's Bench Division in 1916 at the personal recommendation of the Prime Minister H. H. Asquith despite only being a junior barrister, a rarity as most High Court judges were KCs. He became known for two things; firstly the quality and detail of his written judgements, and secondly his tendency to rebel against the judicial norm and criticise the system, which prevented him from advancing further up the judicial hierarchy. He was popular with the Bar and became a bencher of the Middle Temple in 1916 and a reader in 1927, but received much criticism from the judiciary for his judgements. After several bouts of illness and depression while on circuit he committed suicide on 26 April 1933 in his flat.

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Jul 19, 1869
  • United Kingdom
  • King Edward's School, Birmingham
Lived in
  • Birmingham
Apr 26, 1933

on July 23, 2013


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