Thomas Starkie

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Thomas Starkie (2 January 1782 – 15 April 1849) was an English lawyer and jurist. A talented mathematician in his youth, he especially contributed to the unsuccessful attempts to codify the English criminal law in the nineteenth century.

England Country in north-west Europe, part of the United Kingdom

England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to the west and Scotland to the north-northwest. The Irish Sea lies west of England and the Celtic Sea lies to the southwest. England is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south. The country covers five-eighths of the island of Great Britain, which lies in the North Atlantic, and includes over 100 smaller islands, such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.

Lawyer legal professional who helps clients and represents them in a court of law

A lawyer or attorney is a person who practices law, as an advocate, attorney, attorney at law, barrister, barrister-at-law, bar-at-law, civil law notary, counsel, counselor, counsellor, counselor at law, solicitor, chartered legal executive, or public servant preparing, interpreting and applying law, but not as a paralegal or charter executive secretary. Working as a lawyer involves the practical application of abstract legal theories and knowledge to solve specific individualized problems, or to advance the interests of those who hire lawyers to perform legal services.

Jurist legal scholar or academic, a professional who studies, teaches, and develops law

A jurist is someone who researches and studies jurisprudence. Such a person can work as an academic, legal writer or law lecturer. In the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and in many other Commonwealth countries, the word jurist sometimes refers to a barrister, whereas in the United States of America and Canada it often refers to a judge.


Early life

Born in Blackburn, Lancashire, Thomas was the eldest son of the Rev. Thomas Starkie, vicar of Blackburn, and his wife, Ann née Yatman. He was educated at Clitheroe Royal Grammar School and St John's College, Cambridge, from where he graduated in 1803 as senior wrangler and first Smith's prizeman. In the same year, he became a Fellow of St Catharine's College, Cambridge. [1] In 1812 he married Lucy, eldest daughter of Rev. Thomas Dunham Whitaker which entailed that he resign his fellowship. The couple went on to parent five children. [2]

Blackburn town in Lancashire, England

Blackburn is a town in Lancashire, England. It lies to the north of the West Pennine Moors on the southern edge of the Ribble Valley, 9 miles (14 km) east of Preston, 20.9 miles (34 km) NNW of Manchester and 9 miles (14 km) north of the Greater Manchester border. Blackburn is bounded to the south by Darwen, with which it forms the unitary authority of Blackburn with Darwen; Blackburn is its administrative centre. At the time of the UK Government's 2001 census, Blackburn had a population of 105,085, whilst the wider borough of Blackburn with Darwen had a population of 140,700. Blackburn had a population of 117,963 in 2011, a massive increase since 2001.

Lancashire County of England

Lancashire is a ceremonial county in North West England. The administrative centre is Preston. The county has a population of 1,449,300 and an area of 1,189 square miles (3,080 km2). People from Lancashire are known as Lancastrians.

A vicar is a representative, deputy or substitute; anyone acting "in the person of" or agent for a superior. Linguistically, vicar is cognate with the English prefix "vice", similarly meaning "deputy". The title appears in a number of Christian ecclesiastical contexts, but also as an administrative title, or title modifier, in the Roman Empire. In addition, in the Holy Roman Empire a local representative of the emperor, perhaps an archduke, might be styled "vicar".

Starkie entered Lincoln's Inn as a pupil of Joseph Chitty and was called to the bar in 1810, proceeding to practise as a special pleader as well as on the northern circuit, and becoming a QC. [2]

Lincolns Inn one of the four Inns of Court in London, England

The Honourable Society of Lincoln's Inn is one of the four Inns of Court in London to which barristers of England and Wales belong and where they are called to the Bar. Lincoln's Inn is recognised to be one of the world's most prestigious professional bodies of judges and lawyers.

A pupillage, in England and Wales, Northern Ireland, Kenya, Pakistan and Hong Kong is the final, vocational stage of training for those wishing to become practising barristers. Pupillage is similar to an apprenticeship, during which bar graduates build on what they have learnt during the BPTC or equivalent by combining it with practical work experience in a set of barristers' chambers or pupillage training organisation.

A special pleader was a historical legal occupation. The practitioner, or "special pleader" in English law specialised in drafting "pleadings", in modern terminology statements of case.

In 1823 he became Downing Professor of law at Cambridge though he had little success in attracting pupils with his poor presentations, a fate shared with his contemporary John Austin. He repeated his failure at the Inner Temple in 1833. However, in 1833, Starkie was appointed to the royal commission on a proposed English Criminal Code and spent the rest of his life on various commissions on reform and codification of the criminal law. He was not always popular with his colleagues, Henry Bellenden Ker calling him "childish" and "desultory and wayward". [2]

The Downing Professorship of the Laws of England is one of the senior professorships in law at the University of Cambridge.

University of Cambridge University in Cambridge, England, United Kingdom

The University of Cambridge is a collegiate public research university in Cambridge, United Kingdom. Founded in 1209 and granted a Royal Charter by King Henry III in 1231, Cambridge is the second-oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world's fourth-oldest surviving university. The university grew out of an association of scholars who left the University of Oxford after a dispute with the townspeople. The two 'ancient universities' share many common features and are often referred to jointly as 'Oxbridge'. The history and influence of the University of Cambridge has made it one of the most prestigious universities in the world.

Inner Temple one of the four Inns of Court in London, England

The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple, commonly known as Inner Temple, is one of the four Inns of Court in London. To be called to the Bar and practise as a barrister in England and Wales, an individual must belong to one of these Inns. It is located in the wider Temple area of the capital, near the Royal Courts of Justice, and within the City of London.

He was also a sometime law reporter and author of the influential texts: A Practical Treatise on the Law of Slander, Libel, and Incidentally of Malicious Prosecutions (1812) and A Practical Treatise on the Law of Evidence (1824). In 1847, Starkie became a judge in the Clerkenwell small-debts court. [2]

Law report a type of series of books that contain case law

Law reports or reporters are series of books that contain judicial opinions from a selection of case law decided by courts. When a particular judicial opinion is referenced, the law report series in which the opinion is printed will determine the case citation format.

Judge official who presides over court proceedings

A judge is a person who presides over court proceedings, either alone or as a part of a panel of judges. The powers, functions, method of appointment, discipline, and training of judges vary widely across different jurisdictions. The judge is supposed to conduct the trial impartially and, typically, in an open court. The judge hears all the witnesses and any other evidence presented by the barristers of the case, assesses the credibility and arguments of the parties, and then issues a ruling on the matter at hand based on his or her interpretation of the law and his or her own personal judgment. In some jurisdictions, the judge's powers may be shared with a jury. In inquisitorial systems of criminal investigation, a judge might also be an examining magistrate.

Clerkenwell area of inner north London in the London Borough of Islington

Clerkenwell is an area of central London England. The area includes the sub-district of Finsbury.

He died in his rooms in Downing College, Cambridge. [2]

Downing College, Cambridge college of the University of Cambridge

Downing College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge and currently has around 650 students. Founded in 1800, it was the only college to be added to Cambridge University between 1596 and 1869, and is often described as the oldest of the new colleges and the newest of the old. Downing College was formed "for the encouragement of the study of Law and Medicine and of the cognate subjects of Moral and Natural Science", and has developed a reputation amongst Cambridge colleges for Law and Medicine.


Starkie's instincts were Tory and he opposed the Catholic Relief Act 1829. However, in 1840 he unsuccessfully stood as a Liberal Party candidate in Cambridge. [2]

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  1. "Starkie, Thomas (STRY799T)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Lobban (2004)