Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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SANKEY , JOHN ( 1866 - 1948 ; BARON SANKEY , 1929 ; VISCOUNT SANKEY of Moreton , 1932 ), lawyer ;

b. at Moreton , Gloucester , 26 Oct. 1866 , s. of Thomas and Catalina Sankey . Educated at Lancing and at Jesus College , Oxford , he was called to the Bar in 1892 , became a King's Counsel in 1909 , was appointed a judge of the High Court in 1914 , and a Lord of Appeal in 1928 . In 1929 he became Lord Chancellor in the second Labour Government , and retained this office until 1935 . He was chairman of the Coal Commission ( 1919 ) and a member of the Indian Round Table Conference , and his services were in great demand on many commissions and committees, legal, educational, and ecclesiastical (see the list in Www , 1941-50 ). He was a loyal and devoted churchman , and was largely responsible for the framing of the constitution of the (disestablished) Church in Wales . He was an honorary Fellow of Jesus College , Oxford , and in 1929 he received the honorary degree of LL.D. of the University of Wales . He was also an honorary graduate of the Universities of Oxford , Cambridge and Bristol . He died, unmarried, in London on 8 Feb. 1948 , and was buried at Moreton .

His connexion with Wales began when he practised at Cardiff as a young barrister . There he became expert in cases under the Workmen's Compensation Act and gained a great reputation for brevity and conciseness in exposition. On the Bench his work was characterised by a deep humanity and a great concern for the dignity of the law, and on the Woolsack he made a notable contribution to political life by his dignity, his self-discipline, and his gifts of friendship. But above all else he will be remembered as a devoted Churchman and a sincere Christian .


  • Who was who? , 1941-50 ;
  • Hansard Parliamentary Debates - House of Lords (Lords), 11 Feb. 1948 ;
  • The Times , 9 Feb. 1948 .


Thomas Iorwerth Ellis, M.A., (1899-1970), Aberystwyth

Published date: 2001