Birkenhead, Frederick Edwin Smith, 1st earl of

Birkenhead, Frederick Edwin Smith, 1st earl of

(bûr`kənhĕd'), 1872–1930, British statesman and jurist. He was called to the bar in 1899 and entered the House of Commons as a Conservative in 1906. A brilliant orator, he soon gained prominence as a Conservative spokesman, particularly in the fight against Irish Home Rule. He was solicitor general (1915), attorney general (1915–19), in which capacity he prosecuted Sir Roger CasementCasement, Sir Roger David,
1864–1916, Irish revolutionary. While in British consular service, he exposed (1904) the atrocious exploitation of wild-rubber gatherers in the Congo (thus helping to bring about the extinction of the Congo Free State in 1908) and later
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, and lord chancellor (1919–22). Created earl in 1922, he was (1924–28) secretary of state for India. His books include International Law (4th ed. 1911), Famous Trials of History (1927), Law, Life, and Letters (1927).

Bibliography

See biography by his son, Frederick, 2d earl of Birkenhead (1933–35, rev. ed. 1959).

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