RAYMOND, Sir Robert (1673-1733), of Lincoln's Inn and Abbots Langley, Herts.
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Family and Education
b. 20 Dec. 1673, o.s. of Sir Thomas Raymond of Tremnals, Essex, judge of the King’s bench, by Anne, da. of Sir Edward Fish, 2nd Bt., of Southill, Beds., sis. and coh. of Sir Edward Fish, 3rd Bt. educ. Eton; G. Inn 1 Nov. 1683, aged 9; Christ’s, Camb. 1689; called G. Inn 1697, transferred to L. Inn 1710. m. Anne, da. of Sir Edward Northey of Woodcote Green, Epsom, Surr., attorney-gen., 1s. suc. fa. 1683; kntd. 20 Oct. 1710; cr. Lord Raymond, Baron of Abbots Langley, Herts. 15 Jan. 1731.
Solicitor-gen. May 1710-Oct. 1714; counsel for the university of Cambridge 1718; attorney-gen. May 1720-Jan. 1724; judge of King’s bench Jan. 1724; commr. of the great seal 7 Jan.-4 June 1725; l.c.j. of King’s bench 2 Mar. 1725-d.; P.C. 12 Apr. 1725; gov. of Charterhouse 1730-d.
Raymond became solicitor-general on the victory of the Tories in 1710, losing his office on the accession of George I. Returned as a Tory in 1715, he was one of the chief opposition speakers in the debate on the Address, 23 March; defended Harley, now Lord Oxford, from the charge of high treason in July; and spoke against the septennial bill, 24 Apr. 1716. Unseated on petition 12 Apr. 1717, he was approached on 17 Apr. by Lord Chief Justice Parker, afterwards Lord Chancellor Macclesfield, on behalf of the Government, offering to arrange for him to be found another seat. At first Raymond declined the offer on the ground that
if I should be so brought in by the interest of the great man [Sunderland] your Lordship inclined to me, who was thought so instrumental in turning me out, very odd constructions might be put upon it, and used to the prejudice of my reputation, which would entirely disable me from doing any service in Parliament.1
However, he allowed himself to be put up at the end of the month by the Government for a by-election at Cockermouth, where he was defeated. Brought in for Ludlow in 1719 on the recommendation of the Duke of Chandos, he was appointed attorney-general next year in succession to Nicholas Lechmere. At the general election of 1722, after Sunderland had unsuccessfully tried to place him at Coventry, a seat was found for him by the Administration at Helston.2
As attorney-general Raymond was placed in the invidious position of having to conduct the proceedings arising out of the Atterbury plot, including the bill of pains and penalties against his old and intimate friend Atterbury, till the final stage of the bill when he withdrew, eliciting the comment from a Tory:
This was pure grimace. Sense of decency, out of regard to past friendship, should surely have tied his tongue at least upon former occasions, as well as have obliged him to [be] absent upon this.3
Branded as an apostate, his position in the Commons became so untenable that he abandoned politics for the bench at the cost of becoming temporarily a mere puisne judge, an unprecedented step for an attorney-general. On the removal of Lord Chancellor Macclesfield in January 1725, he was appointed one of the three commissioners of the great seal, becoming lord chief justice of the King’s bench two months later. In that capacity, he set an example, which was followed by the other chief justices and judges, by not accepting annual presents from the head of the King’s bench prison. In 1730 the select committee set up by the House of Commons to investigate the conditions of the gaols reported that
the King’s Bench prison is much better regulated than any other prison the committee have enquired into; which they cannot but ascribe to the care of the Lord Chief Justice Raymond, who, from not accepting any presents or fees from the marshall of the said prison, hath kept the said marshall strictly to the performance of his duties, and his lordship hath heard and relieved the complaints of the prisoners.4
Raised to the peerage in 1731, he died 19 March 1733.