Philip Yorke, Baron Hardwicke


Home of the Yorke family in Snargate Street (JBJ 1907)

Dr. Sankey's house and surgery was next below Five Post Lane.  When he removed to his new house in Camden Crescent in 1840, this house was then altered; from being a doctor's residence and surgery it became the house and shop of a chemist, but the older traditions remain.  If we go back further we shall find that a Simon Yorke, merchant, was buried in St. James's Church, in 1664, and his son, Philip, an attorney, and some time Town Clerk of Dover, resided in this Snargate Street house, which our illustration shows as a house of many gables.  The Yorke's house was at the corner, and although somewhat pretentious in appearance, was not a large mansion, for Philip Yorke, although attorney and Town Clerk, was not rich.  Mrs. Yorke was a Presbyterian, daughter of Richard Gibbon, an ancestor of Gibbon the historian of the Roman Empire.  Their son Philip Yorke was born in the house depicted in our illustration in 1690, and his mother, in planning his future, objected to his being a lawyer, and intimated a desire that her son should be "put to some honest trade," and she expressed a hope of seeing "his head wag in a pulpit."  Mr Philip Yorke the elder, however, observed that his son was a "cute lad," and being of narrow means, he had him placed as an articled clerk without fees - "a gratis clerk" he was called - with an eminent London attorney, Mr. Salkeld, of Brook Street, who was Mr. Yorke's London agent.  This is not the place to write the biography of the "cute lad,"; but it might be remarked that he made such strides that he soon became his master's managing clerk, and in that capacity, coming in contact with Lord Chief Justice Parker, he by that influential lawyer's favour, got an opportunity of being called to the Bar, entered Parliament, was made Solicitor-General, became Chief Justice of the King's Bench, was created Baron Hardwicke, and was eventually appointed Lord Chancellor, in the year 1737; the exact time which it took this 'cute Snargate Street lad to successfully run this race from the Bar to the Woolsack was 22 years.  A portrait of this celebrated Dover man hangs in the Maison Dieu Hall.  (JBJ 1907)

  Philip Yorke was born in Snargate Street, near the present junction with York Street, on 1st December 1690, the son of Philip Yorke, barrister, and Elizabeth Gibbon, daughter of Richard Gibbon of Rolvenden.

Educated at a private school in Bethnal Green, Philip entered an attorney's office at the age of 14.  He was entered at the Middle Temple in November 1708 and shortly afterwards became law tutor to the sons of Lord Chief Justice Parker.

Called to the Bar in 1715, he transferred his practice from the King's Bench to Chancery in 1718.

In 1719 he entered Parliament as the member for Lewes, Sussex, and was appointed Solicitor General. 

  Philip married Margaret Cocks on 16th May 1719.  He was Knighted in 1720.  Philip and Margaret had 5 sons and two daughters: Philip, Charles, Elizabeth, Joseph, John, James and Margaret.

In 1733 he was appointed Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench with the title of Lord Hardwicke and in 1737 succeeded Lord Talbot as Lord Chancellor.  In 1739 he purchased Wimpole Hall, the greatest country house in Cambridgeshire.

In 1753, Lord Hardwicke introduced the Marriage Act, which instituted the calling of banns before marriage.

In 1754 he was created 1st Earl of Hardwicke and Viscount Royston.  He died in London on 6th March 1764.

Son Philip succeeded his father as 2nd Earl Hardwicke and Viscount Royston; Charles became Lord Chancellor; Joseph became a diplomat and was created Baron Dover; James became Bishop of Ely in Cambridgeshire.

  For a more complete history of the life and work of Philip Yorke, see Wikipedia