James Wilde, 1st Baron Penzance

British judge and rose breeder (1816-1899)

James Plaisted Wilde, 1st Baron Penzance (12 July 1816 – 9 December 1899) was a noted British judge and rose breeder who was also a proponent of the Baconian theory that the works usually attributed to William Shakespeare were in fact written by Francis Bacon.


  • There is no doubt whatever that as far as common law is concerned, the Courts in this country have been bound, most of them, by inflexible rules handed down in great measure from the time of the Plantagenets, and until certain modern statutes were passed there was no possibility of altering or improving them.
    • Cowan v. Duke of Buccleuch (1876), L. R. 2 Ap. Ca. 355.
  • The picture of law triumphant and justice prostrate, is not, I am aware, without admirers. To me it is a sorry spectacle. The spirit of justice does not reside in formalities, or words, nor is the triumph of its administration to be found in successfully picking a way between the pitfalls of technicality. After all, the law is, or ought to be, but the handmaid of justice, and inflexibility, which is the most becoming robe of the latter, often serves to render the former grotesque. But any real inroad upon the rights and opportunities for defence of a person charged with a breach of the law, whereby the certainty of justice might be imperilled, I conceive to be a matter of the highest moment.
    • Combe v. Edwards (1878), L. R. 3 P. D. 142.
  • Every Court has the power to vary its own orders which are drawn up mechanically in the registry or in the office of the Court—to vary them in such a way as to carry out its own meaning, and where language has been used which is doubtful, to make it plain. I think that power is inherent in every Court. Speaking of the Courts with which I have been more familiar all my life, the Common Law Courts, I have no doubt that that can be done, and I should have no doubt that it could also be done by the Court of Chancery.
    • Lawrie v. Lees (1881), L. R. 7 Ap. Ca. 35.
  • Mankind naturally give evidence to the constituted Courts, and reputation is incurably damaged by their decisions, whether erroneous or not.
    • Borough v. Collins (1890), L. R. 15 P. D. 85.

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