Henry Duke, 1st Baron Merrivale

Henry Duke, 1st Baron Merrivale

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Henry Duke, 1st Baron Merrivale

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Henry Edward Duke, 1st Baron Merrivale PC, QC (5 November 1855-20 May 1939), was a British judge and Conservative politician. He served as Chief Secretary for Ireland between 1916 and 1918.

Background and education

Duke was the second son of William Edward Duke, a granite merchant of Merrivale, Devon, and his wife Elizabeth Ann (née Lord). From a modest background, he was educated locally and did not attend a public school or university.

Legal career

In early life Duke worked as a journalist for the local newspaper the Western Morning News, but at the age of 25 he came to London to cover the House of Commons. While in London he began to study law, and was called to the Bar, Gray's Inn, in 1885. He at first worked on the Western circuit but later established a successful legal practice in London. He was a recorder for Devonport and Plymouth from 1897 to 1900 and for Devonport alone until 1914, and was made a Queen's Counsel in 1899.

Political career

In 1900 Duke was elected to the House of Commons for Plymouth as a Unionist, a seat he held until 1906 when he was defeated. He returned to Parliament in the January 1910 general election as the representative for Exeter. He lost the seat in the December 1910 election by only four votes, but regained it by a single vote after an election petition in April 1911, and held it until 1918. Duke sat on the front opposition bench during the early years of the First World War and was admitted to the Privy Council in 1915. In July...
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