Thomas Ryves

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Sir Thomas Ryves (c.15831652) was an English civilian. He was a member of a prominent Dorsetshire gentry family. He became a specialist in ecclesiastical law and Admiralty law.

Admiralty law or maritime law is a body of law that governs nautical issues and private maritime disputes. Admiralty law consists of both domestic law on maritime activities, and private international law governing the relationships between private parties operating or using ocean-going ships. While each legal jurisdiction usually has its own legislation governing maritime matters, the international nature of the topic and the need for uniformity has, since 1900, led to considerable international maritime law developments, including numerous multilateral treaties.


Background and early career

He was born around 1583, eighth son of John Ryves of Damory Court, near Blandford, Dorset and his wife Elizabeth Mervyn. [1] He belonged to a highly talented family: one of his brothers, Sir William Ryves, became Attorney General for Ireland and a judge of the Court of King's Bench (Ireland); [2] another brother, George, became Master of New College, Oxford. Dr. Bruno Ryves, royal chaplain and Dean of Windsor was a first cousin; and Sir John Davies, William Ryves' predecessor as Irish Attorney General, was a family connection through his wife.

Court of Kings Bench (Ireland)

The Court of King's Bench was one of the senior courts of common law in Ireland. It was a mirror of the Court of King's Bench in England. The King's Bench was one of the "Four Courts" which sat in the building in Dublin still known as "The Four Courts".

New College, Oxford constituent college of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom

New College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. Founded in 1379 by William of Wykeham, the full name of the college is St Mary's College of Winchester in Oxford. The name "New College", however, soon came to be used following its completion in 1386 to distinguish it from the older existing college of St. Mary, now known as Oriel College.

Bruno Ryves (1596–1677) was an English royalist churchman, editor in 1643 of the Oxford newsbook Mercurius Rusticus, and later dean of Chichester and dean of Windsor. Both Ryves's Christian name and surname were variously spelled by his contemporaries: Brune, Bruen, Brian, Bruno; and Reeves, Rives, Ryve, Reeve, and Ryves.

Ryves entered Winchester College in 1590 and became a fellow of New College, Oxford in 1598. He took his degree of Bachelor of Common Law in 1605 and his doctorate in 1610; he is also said to have studied for a time in France. In 1612 he became an advocate of Doctors' Commons.

Winchester College Boarding school in Winchester, England (UK)

Winchester College is an independent boarding school for boys in the British public school tradition, situated in Winchester, Hampshire. It has existed in its present location for over 600 years. It is the oldest of the original seven English public schools defined by the Clarendon Commission and regulated by the Public Schools Act 1868.

France Republic in Europe with several non-European regions

France, officially the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.02 million. France is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.

Advocate Profession

An advocate is a professional or non-professional in the field of law. Different countries' legal systems use the term with somewhat differing meanings. The broad equivalent in many English law–based jurisdictions could be a barrister or a solicitor. However, in Scottish, South African, Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Scandinavian, Polish, Israeli, South Asian and South American jurisdictions, "advocate" indicates a lawyer of superior classification.

Irish career

Thomas and his brother William relied on their family connection with Sir John Davies to advance their careers. In 1612 Thomas accompanied Davies on his return to Ireland and did "good service" in helping him manage the Irish Parliament of 1613-15, where after a fierce struggle [3] Davies was elected Speaker of the House of Commons. In 1617 Thomas was appointed judge of the Irish Court of Faculties. As a result he became embroiled in a long dispute with James Ussher, Archbishop of Armagh, and other leading clerics, who argued that only a clergyman in holy orders should hold the office. Although Thomas is said to have been greatly respected in Ireland for his legal ability, [4] he eventually resigned the office and returned to England in 1621.

Parliament of Ireland Former parliament of Ireland

The Parliament of Ireland was the legislature of the Lordship of Ireland, and later the Kingdom of Ireland, from 1297 until 1800. It was modelled on the Parliament of England and from 1537 comprised two chambers: the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The Lords were members of the Irish peerage and bishops. The Commons was directly elected, albeit on a very restricted franchise. Parliaments met at various places in Leinster and Munster, but latterly always in Dublin: in Christchurch Cathedral, Dublin Castle, Chichester House (1661–1727), the Blue Coat School (1729–31), and finally a purpose-built Parliament House on College Green.

Speaker of the House of Commons (United Kingdom) Presiding Officer of the House of Commons

The Speaker of the House of Commons is the presiding officer of the House of Commons, the United Kingdom's lower, but more influential, chamber of Parliament. John Bercow was elected Speaker on 22 June 2009, following the resignation of Michael Martin. He was since re-elected, unopposed, three times, following the general elections in 2010, 2015 and 2017.

Under English ecclesiastical law, the Court of Faculties is a tribunal of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and is attached to the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Later career

Ryves built up a large practice in the English Admiralty Court, and was made King's Advocate in 1625. In 1626 he became a master of the Court of Requests; in 1636 he became the Admiralty judge for Dover, and later judge for the Cinque Ports.

The King's Advocate was one of the Law Officers of the Crown. He represented the Crown in the ecclesiastical courts of the Church of England, where cases were argued not by barristers but by advocates. In the nineteenth century much of the jurisdiction of the ecclesiastical courts was transferred to other courts, firstly the Courts of Probate and Divorce and Matrimonial Causes and eventually the Probate, Divorce and Admiralty Division of the High Court of Justice. The position of Queen's Advocate remained vacant after the resignation of Sir Travers Twiss in 1872.

The Court of Requests was a minor equity court in England and Wales. The court was instituted by King Richard III in his 1484 parliament. It first became a formal tribunal with some Privy Council elements under Henry VII, hearing cases from the poor and from the servants of the King. It quickly became popular on account of the low cost of bringing a case and the rapid processing time, earning the disapproval of the common law judges. Two formal judges, the "Masters of Requests Ordinary", were appointed towards the end of Henry VIII's reign, with an additional two "Masters of Requests Extraordinary" appointed under Elizabeth I to allow two judges to accompany her on her travels around England. Two more ordinary masters were appointed under James I of England, with the increasing volume of cases bringing a wave of complaints as the court's business and backlog grew.

Dover town and major ferry port in Kent, South East England

Dover is a town and major ferry port in Kent, South East England. It faces France across the Strait of Dover, the narrowest part of the English Channel, and lies south-east of Canterbury and east of Maidstone. The town is the administrative centre of the Dover District and home of the Dover Calais ferry through the Port of Dover. The surrounding chalk cliffs are known as the White Cliffs of Dover.

On the outbreak of the English Civil War he joined the King's side, and despite his age is said to have fought with great courage in several battles and been wounded. [5] In 1648 the King chose him as one of his commissioners to negotiate with Parliament. He died in London early in 1652 and was buried in St. Clement Danes. His wife belonged to the Waldron family of Leicester This was one of several marriages between the two families: she was probably a sister of Dorothy Waldron. the second wife of Thomas's brother William. They had no children.

English Civil War Civil war in England (1642–1651)

The English Civil War (1642–1651) was a series of civil wars and political machinations between Parliamentarians ("Roundheads") and Royalists ("Cavaliers") principally over the manner of England's governance. The first (1642–1646) and second (1648–1649) wars pitted the supporters of King Charles I against the supporters of the Long Parliament, while the third (1649–1651) saw fighting between supporters of King Charles II and supporters of the Rump Parliament. The war ended with Parliamentarian victory at the Battle of Worcester on 3 September 1651.

London Capital of the United Kingdom

London is the capital and largest city of England and the United Kingdom. Standing on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its 50-mile (80 km) estuary leading to the North Sea, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. Londinium was founded by the Romans. The City of London, London's ancient core − an area of just 1.12 square miles (2.9 km2) and colloquially known as the Square Mile − retains boundaries that follow closely its medieval limits. The City of Westminster is also an Inner London borough holding city status. Greater London is governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

Leicester City and unitary authority in England

Leicester is a city and unitary authority area in the East Midlands of England, and the county town of Leicestershire. The city lies on the River Soar and close to the eastern end of the National Forest. It is to the north-east of Birmingham and Coventry, south of Nottingham, and west of Peterborough.


Ryves was renowned for his knowledge of both civil law and common law, his wider learning and his skill in Latin. He enjoyed the trust and confidence of King Charles I, and displayed courage and loyalty to the Crown in his later years, although Archbishop Ussher disliked and distrusted him.


Ryves published books on law and naval history, and a lengthy defence of King James I's administration in Ireland. Probably his best known work is The Poor Vicar's Plea (1620), an argument in favour of the right of Irish vicars to receive tithes.

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  1. Pollard, Albert Frederick (1897). "Ryves, Thomas"  . In Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography . 50. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  2. Ball, F. Elrington The Judges in Ireland 1221-1921, John Murray London 1926
  3. This was both a political and a physical struggle, since Davies, who was a very fat man, quite literally sat on his rival for the office, Sir John Everard, threatening to crush him unless he accepted defeat.
  4. Chalmers Biographical Dictionary 1812
  5. Chalmers