[taken from Chapter 4 Manx Worthies, A.W.Moore, 1901]

RICHARD SHERWOOD (b. 1828, d. 1883),

born in Douglas, was articled, about 1843, to Samuel Harris, who was afterwards high-bailiff and vicar-general. As Mr. Harris, in addition to his practice, held the office of tithe agent, RICHARD SHERWOOD gained a practical knowledge of Manx properties which was afterwards exceedingly useful to him. After leaving Harris's office, he studied for a time with Deemster Stephen, but he then abandoned the law and took up farming. Though he became a successful farmer, the life soon palled upon him, and he therefore resumed his legal studies, seeking this time the office of L. W. Adamson, where he completed his articles. He was called to the Bar in 1857, and commenced practice in Ramsey. He soon, however, found there was not sufficient scope for his energy and ability at the north of the island and so he removed to Douglas, where he entered into partnership with A. N. Laughton, the present High-Bailiff of Peel. They speedily acquired an extensive practice, but SHERWOOD, being again, as it would seem, seized with a desire for change, went to Queensland. On the voyage out, he wrote his well-known treatise upon Manx Real Property, which under the title of " Manx Law Tenures," was published in 1899. It is universally accepted as the most authoritative exposition upon the subject. On arrival in Queensland, he found that there were difficulties in the way of his admission to the Colonial Bar, unless he served for a time in the Colony, and so he returned to the Isle of Man where he was at once retained, with A. W. Adams, in the important ease of James Brown versus the House of Keys. He contested the constituency of Douglas, in the first election to the House of Keys, in 1867, but did not succeed in being elected He was, however, returned for Glenfaba in 1869 and continued to represent that constituency till he was appointed deemster in April, 1883. He soon became the acknowledged leader of the House, being, notwithstanding his extensive practice, indefatigable in his legislative labours. He was the introducer of female suffrage, and to him the Ballot Act, and various other legislative improvements, are mainly due.

As a lawyer he had few equals, and no superiors, at the Manx Bar. Between 1866 and 1883, he appeared in every important suit, and gained some great successes, notably in three cases against the Crown, all of which he won. The most remarkable of these was the Ballaharra Clay Case, in which he firmly established the right of Manx customary freeholders to the sand and clay underlying their farms. This had been disputed by the Crown. As an individual, he was generous and philanthropic, being ever ready to assist the poor and needy, and he was remarkable for an indomitable will and iron determination, which enabled him to overcome difficulties which would have daunted any less able and persevering man. His influence over the Manx people and their confidence in him were extraordinary. His sad death by his own hand, a few months after his elevation to the Bench, was doubtless the result of temporary aberration, induced by sleeplessness and mental depression. (From the " Isle of Man Times.")

Richard Sherwood
Richard Sherwood



A. Harrison Richard Sherwood in Manx Politics Proc IoMNH&ASoc viii #4 pp349/361 1982


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