Authorised form of nameDwarris; Sir; Fortunatus William Lilley (1786 - 1860); lawyer
Dates1786 - 1860
Place of birthJamaica, Caribbean, North and Central America
Date of birth23 October 1786
Place of death75 Eccleston Square, London, Greater London, United Kingdom
Date of death20 May 1860
Dates and placesBurial:
Brookwood cemetery, Woking, Surrey, England, United Kingdom
OccupationLawyer; plantation and slave owner; colonial official
Research fieldLaw
Rugby School (1801); University College Oxford, BA (1808); Middle Temple, legal bar (1811)
Commissioner on the inquiry into the state of the law in the colonies in the West Indies (1822); member of the commission for the examination of municipal corporations; Master of the Court of Queen's Bench (by 1847); Recorder of Newcastle under Lyme (by 1847); Counsel to the Board of Health; bencher of the Middle Temple, Treasurer of the Middle Temple (1839)
Kt 1838
FSA; British Archaeological Association (VP)
Membership categoryFellow
Date of election22/04/1847
Age at election60
RelationshipsMarried Alicia, daughter of Robert Brereton on 28 February 1811; benefited from the patronage of the politician and plantation owner Henry Goulburn
Published works'A General Treatise on Statutes, their rules of construction and the proper boundaries of legislation and of judicial interpretation', 1839-31;
'Alberic, Consul of Rome, a Tragedy', 1832
General contextDwarris worked as a barrister and was called to the bar at Middle Temple on 28 June 1811. On election to the Royal Society Dwarris was recognised for his legal expertise as well as literary publications and interest in archaelology. He was a constitutional lawyer, served on municipal commissions, and authored a widely used legal text on the history of statute law 'General Treatise on Statutes' (2 vols., 1830-31).

In 1822, prior to his election to the Royal Society (1847), Dwarris served as a commissioner on the inquiry into the state of law in the colonies in the West Indies which examined the treatment of enslaved people by the judicial system, this was also recognised as a factor in electing him a Fellow. Dwarris was the author of three reports by the Commission in which he critiscized legal irregularities and advocated for equality under the law. He was not an abolitionist, he supported only a gradual process of emancipation along with the compensation of enslavers of emanicpated people. He was an enslaver himself with family property in Jamaica that used enslaved people for labour and he received compensation following emancipation in 1836.
Bulloch's Roll; DNB; UCL LBS
'Sir Fortunatus William Lilley Dwarris', Legacies of British Slave-ownership database, [accessed 16th June 2020].
Royal Society codeNA797
Archives associated with this Fellow
Reference numberTitleDate
EC/1847/15Dwarris, Sir Fortunatus William Lilley: certificate of election to the Royal Society
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