Ernest Page KC (1848-1930)

Ernest Page KC

Written by Kevin Grice

Occupation: Judge
Location: Carlisle

Early life and family

Ernest Page was born in Carlisle on 6th July 1848. His father was William Bousfield Page FRCS who was born in Ashford in Kent on 5th March 1817 into the non-conformist family of James Page (1790-1862) a gentleman from Bow in London and Ann Bousfield (1791-1857). William had trained in London then Cumberland (MRCS and MSA 1841 FRCS 1856 FRMCS 1857) and was between 1842-1877 acting then consulting surgeon at the new Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle (where a surgical ward is named after him) as well as surgeon to the County Gaol and the Cumberland Lunatic Asylum. William Page wrote numerous articles on pioneering surgical techniques including ovariotomy, lithotomy and excision of the knee as well as the treatment of tetanus with aconite.  He was also a JP for Cumberland. He died at the family home in Stanwix in Carlisle on 5th January 1886, leaving a net estate of £92,515. On 27th June 1844 at St Mary’s Church in Carlisle William married Anne Ferguson Nanson. She was the daughter of William Nanson (1791-1868) a soldier who had served in the Napoleonic Wars in 1813 and who later became Town Clerk of Carlisle and Elizabeth Ferguson (1793-1867) born Carlisle 15th November 1821 baptised at St Mary’s Carlisle 3rd December 1821 who also died at Stanwix on 20th April 1891 net estate £2,088.

William and Anne had eight children, firstly four sons Herbert [a.k.a. Robert] William (1845-1926), Ernest, Arnold Henry (1851-1943) and Lawrence Bernard (1854-1946) and then four daughters Ethel Gertrude (1858-1934), Beatrice Lucy (1860-1889), Mabel Constance (1862-1918) and Lilian Louisa (1864-1954). Herbert was to become a distinguished surgeon at St Mary’s Hospital and was made a Freeman of the City of London in 1882. Arnold was first a barrister, being called to the Bar in 1878, and then a clergyman, ordained in 1883 and rising to be Dean of Peterborough Cathedral before retiring in 1928. Lawrence also entered the law and rose to be the solicitor to the Great Western Railway Company. Ethel married a local Cumberland landowner William Caton Thompson then George Moore also a surgeon and stayed in Cumberland. Her youngest sisters both married soldiers in the Border Regiment, Mabel to Major John Wardlaw and moved to Scotland and Lilian to Colonel John Pelly and moved to Devon. Beatrice remained a spinster living at home in Carlisle until her early death.

Ernest was baptised at St. Cuthbert’s Church in Carlisle on 29th September 1848 when the family lived at 4, Lowther Street. By 1851 they had moved to 30, Devonshire Street with three domestic servants as well as a nurse and a groom. They then successively lived at 30, Lowther Street (1855, 1861 and 1868), 78, Lowther Street (1871 and 1873) and finally to the more rural St Anne’s in Stanwix (1881, 1886 and 1891), always attended by not less than four servants including a governess as the children grew up. Ernest attended Carlisle Grammar School before following his elder brother to Rossall School in 1861 and where he studied until 1867. There is no record of Ernest attending university but he must have studied law because by 1871 he had gone to London to finish qualifying as a solicitor and was lodging at 72, Margaret Road in Marylebone. It was obviously a suitable address for aspirant professional men as another lodger was Herbert Pye, who was training to be a surgeon. He may have been a friend of the family.

Early legal career and own family

Ernest was duly enrolled as a solicitor in 1872 and practised as such for three years before being admitted as a student to Inner Temple on 6th November 1875 in order to qualify instead for the Bar. He was duly called to the Bar there on 3rd July 1878 and was immediately granted pupillage at 3, Harcourt Buildings, Temple where he was made a tenant in 1879. He practised both in London and at the Sessions in Carlisle, Cumberland and Westmorland following his election to the Northern Circuit on 12th July 1878 where he was proposed by Sir Charles Russell QC MP (later Baron Russell of Killowen Lord Chief Justice of England) and seconded by Charles Crompton (later Charles Crompton QC MP). Ernest then left Harcourt Buildings to join 1, Kings Bench Walk, Temple in 1881 and where he continued to have his name on the door until his death in 1930.

On 5th August 1880 at St. Martins-in-the-Fields in London Ernest married Ethel Grace Grantham (1861-1938) who had been born in Limerick in Ireland. She was the daughter of Colonel Charles Grantham (1828-1896) and his wife Adeline (1832-1915). Charles Grantham had been born in Halifax, Nova Scotia and his wife in Galway in Ireland. They had lived in many different parts of the world as a result of his service in the Norfolk Regiment including Canada, Scotland and Ireland and Ethel’s seven siblings were thus born all over the globe before the family finally settled in England. The newly married couple lived initially at 62, Abingdon Villas in Kensington in London where in 1881 they had a maid and two other servants. In due course they had two children Cecil Grantham Page MC (1885-1960) who was gazetted in 1917 whilst serving as a Captain in the Border Regiment and who also became a barrister in London and Winifred Grantham Page (1890-1972) who in 1917 followed the path of her two aunts and married Lieutenant-Colonel Cecil Becher (1870-1932) of the Irish Rifles who had been decorated in the Second Boer War in 1899 and they then lived at 15, Roland Gardens in Chelsea.

By 1891 Ernest and Ethel Page with their two children were living at 6, Marloes Road in Kensington and Ernest’s status as a barrister was confirmed by their employment of four servants. He acted as counsel for many railway companies and his special knowledge of railway rating and labour problems fitted him also for work as an arbitrator in industrial disputes generally. He also acted as counsel for Carlisle Corporation, thus retaining his links with the city of his birth. The breadth of his legal work is however demonstrated by an Opinion he provided in 1886 in the case of Ponsonby v Ainsworth and others concerning iron ore workings at Howbank, Egremont 1732-1918, a model of legal erudition but supported by local knowledge.

Later legal career

Ernest Page’s increasingly successful practice enabled the family to move in 1895 into the prestigious address of 78, Queen’s Gate in South Kensington and he took silk in 1898. In 1901 the family had six servants although by 1911 this had reduced to four, presumably as Cecil was no longer living with them and Winifred was then 20 years of age. They remained at that address until moving to 26, Evelyn Gardens, again in South Kensington by the time of Winifred’s marriage in 1917. Ernest Page was made Recorder of Carlisle in 1904, a post he was to hold until 1929 when he was 80 years old. He was clearly very proud of this appointment to the city of his family as he put it as his profession on his daughter’s marriage certificate. He was made a Bencher of Inner Temple in 1909 and granted the Honorary Freedom of the City of Carlisle in 1926 in recognition of his long service to the Corporation.

Ernest Page died at 104,Elm Park Gardens in Chelsea on 24th October 1930 aged 82. Probate was granted out of the London Registry on 3rd December 1930 to his son Cecil, his daughter Winifred and his sister-in-law Blanche Cecilia Page, the wife of his younger brother Arnold. His estate was £11,328. His widow continued to live there until her own death on 17th December 1938. She left £7,628 with Probate again being granted to Cecil and Winifred. Cecil and his family then lived in the house until his own death in 1960.


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  • Lancet 1886, i, 181
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