The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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John Walter Huddleston, 1817-1890

Nationality: British
Date of Birth: 1817
Place of Birth:
Date of Death: 1890.12.05
Place of Death: Brighton


Sir John Walter Huddleston was a High Court Justice in the Exchequer Division. He married Lady Diana De Vere Beauclerk, the daughter of the ninth Duke of St Albans. They lived at 43 Ennismore Gardens, 19 Prince's Terrace S.W. in 1874 and later at 2 Park Prospect, Little Queen Street, Westminster.


Huddleston was called to Bar in 1839 and worked in the Exchequer Division between 1875 and 1879. He was Conservative M.P. for Canterbury from 1865 to 1868 and for Norwich in 1874, having been defeated as a Conservative candidate for the same seat in July 1870. He was knighted in 1875. According to the Bancrofts, he was 'widely known as a raconteur'. He was described in Vanity Fair as 'not over-educated yet with a great store of general knowledge, accounted a less profound lawyer than some yet ever ready to show that he had read Justinian.' His aristocratic position enhanced his reputation as a judge, and he was popular in social circles, partly on account of his beautiful wife. She was among the bridesmaids in William Powell Frith's The Marriage of Their Royal Highnesses the Prince of Wales and the Princess Alexandra of Denmark (1865).

Huddleston tried the Whistler v. Ruskin libel case in November 1878. Lady Diana was present at the proceedings. Huddlestone described JW as a 'man of genius'. He allowed laughter in the courtroom but not applause, and he structured his concluding remarks so that the jury had no choice but to follow his instructions.


The Parliamentary Directory, London, 1874; Foster, Joseph, Men at the Bar: a biographical hand-list of the members of the various inns of court, including Her Majesty's judges, London, 1885; Bancroft, Marie, The Bancrofts: Recollections of Sixty Years, London, 1909; Merrill, Linda, A Pot of Paint: Aesthetics on Trial in 'Whistler v. Ruskin', Washington and London, 1992.