[From Manx Quarterly, #25]

Resignation of the Attorney-general

George Alfred Ring



Mr George Alfred Ring, H.M. Attorney-General for the Isle of Man, on October 4th tendered to the Governor his resignation of that office, and in February last he left the Island to take up residence near Brighton. Mr Ring is now seventy years old, and some three years ago he underwent a. serious breakdown of health, from which he has not completely recovered.

Mr Ring is the eldest son of the late Dr. Cornelius Percy Ring, an Irish medical man, who settled in Douglas many years ago. He served his articles with the late Mr T. C. Callow, advocate, Douglas, and was admitted to the Manx Bar in 1873. His great talents and attainments, coupled with his immense powers of application, soon gained him ,prominence, and he was recognisedly one of the Island's ablest practising advocates when, in November, 1897, he succeeded the late Sir James Gell as Attorney-General. For twenty-three years, therefore, he has acted as adviser to the Crown, and to the Insular Government, and has been an outstanding figure in the meetings of the Legislative Council and of the Tynwald Court. The Attorney-General in any Government exerts a very considerable influence in the decision of the :policy which he is afterwards called upon to formulate and defend, and Mr Ring has time and time again succeeded marvellously in imposing a policy upon a reluctant chamber. Mr Ring has consistently described himself as a Liberal in politics, and it was understood at the time of the English General Election of 1910, that he had been approached as a prospective Liberal candidate for an English constituency, and though it has often been felt that the Manx policy of which Mr Ring was the exponent divagated very far from Liberal principles, especially in regard to taxation, it cannot be gainsaid that in matters of social legislation the Island's executive government has shown decidedly more sympathy with the working-classes than have many Radical enthusiasts in the Lower House.

Mr Ring's genuine and disinterested public spirit has been specially manifested in his labours for the cause of public education. Long before there was any prospect of his obtaining legal office, he had become a member of the Douglas School Board, and his sixteen years' chairmanship of that body was a real era of progress. Later on, after he had taken his seat in the councils of the State, he was for many years chairman of the Council of Education.

Mr Ring is an enthusiastic Churchman, holding pronounced views on what is sometimes called the sacerdotal side. St Matthew's Church, Douglas, where Mr Ring has been a devoted worker, has the reputation — sometimes, no doubt, judiciously exaggerated — of being somewhat high, and Mr Ring has been also actively interested in the newly-formed Isle of Man branch of the English Church Union. He has represented the Island in various assemblies of the Church, and has frequently written articles of singular erudition upon ecclesiastical matters.


A meeting of the members of the-Manx Bar was hold in the Law Library on Wednesday, 75th Dec., 1920, for the purpose of bidding farewell to Mr G. A. Ring, the retiring Attorney-General, and presenting him with an address.

The following members of the Bar were present:-Messrs Ll. S. Kneale (president of the Law Society), G. F. Clucas (Speaker of the House of Keys), R. D. Farrant (High-Bailiff of Douglas and Castletown), F. M. La,Mothe (High-Bailiff of Ramsey and Peel), W. Lay, C. B. Nelson, J. Hodgson, J. D. Clucas, M.H.K., R. D. Gelling, H. R. Gelling, G. S. Johnson, T. W. Cain, 1'. G. Cannell, J. W. Stephen, P. J. Crellin, W. P. Cowley, A. A. Whiteside, J. K. Stephen, E. C. Kneen, and R. G. Johnson.

Mr Kneale, in presenting the address, referred to the Attorney-General's long and distinguished career at the Bar, and assured him that the members of the Bar 'heard his resignation with extreme regret.

The Attorney-General, in reply, thanked the members of the Bar for their address, and assured them that he parted from then with feelings of deep regret. He expressed his appreciation of the wish of the members of the Bar to meet him in the unable to accept the kindly offer of the Bar to entertain him to a dinner. He then referred to the changes that had taken place during the 47 years he had been a member of the Manx Bar. His aim had always been to maintain the status of the Bar, and to do all in his power so that the profession in the Island should follow in the traditions of the great sister Bar in England. The Attorney-General said that, looking back to the time when he was admitted to the Bar, the higher general standard of legal education was a marked feature, as was also the vast and commendable improvement which had taken place in the treatment of junior library for the purpose of bidding him farewell on his vacating his office, and regretted exceedingly that, acting under the order of his medical adviser, he was members. They had now a perfectly free and open field, but at the same time it could never be forgotten that there was no short cut to success at the Bar, the only way being sheer hard work and continuous study. He thanked them all most warmly for the kind, though far too flattering, things said of him in the address. Since holding the Attorney-Generalship, his effort had ever been so to discharge the duties of that high office that, when the time came for the appointment of his successor, the Crown would have no reason to look beyond the Manx Bar for the person to fill his place.

The Attorney-General then shook hands with all the members of the Bar and the proceedings terminated.

The address is as follows, and is to be engraved and illuminated by Mr Archibald Knox :

To George Alfred Ring, Esquire, Attorney-General for the Isle of Man.

On your impending retirement from the office of H.M. Attorney-General for the Isle of Man and from practice as a member of the Manx Bar, we, the members of the Manx Bar, desire to assure you of our affectionate respect.

From the time you were admitted a member of the Manx Bar in 1878, you have displayed those qualities which have ever been held by us in special esteem-learning-, eloquence, and fearless and independent advocacy, and when in 1897 you were appointed Attorney-General, it was with the universal approval of the Bar.

You have filled that office with dignity and distinguished ability. While it has been your duty to maintain the supremacy of the law, and to see that law-breakers did not go unpunished, you have been ever mindful to ensure that the persons accused of crime should have every opportunity of having their defence fully presented to the court, so that no one could be convicted save after a full and fair trial.

We feel that in you the Government of this Island have had a legal adviser not only learned in the law, but of experience in affairs and of sound judgment, and jealous to preserve the ancient constitution, rights and privileges of the Isle of Man.

We regret your resignation, but assure you that you will carry into your retirement our wishes for many years of happiness, while we will cherish with just pride the memory of one who has upheld the honour and the highest traditions of the Bar.

Signed at the Hall of the Isle of Man Law Society on Wednesday, the 15th Decembor, 1920.



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