John Singleton Copley Lyndhurst, baron, a British statesman, born in Boston, Mass., May 21, 1772, died Oct. 12, 1863. He was a son of the artist Copley, went with his mother and sisters to England in his third year, and was educated under a private tutor and at Trinity college, Cambridge, where he graduated in 1794. He visited the United States and Canada, returned to England in 1798, was called to the bar in 1804, went on the Midland circuit, and rose slowly to eminence in his profession. He had obtained the leadership of the circuit, when in 1817 he attracted general attention by his part in the defence of Watson, charged with high treason as one of the rioters at Spa Fields. He was also in that year counsel for the crown in the prosecution of Bran-dreth, who was executed for high treason as a ringleader of the Derby tumults. Though his politics had originally been liberal, he entered parliament in 1818 under tory auspices, was soon after knighted, and was solicitor general in the Liverpool administration from 1819 to 1823. In 1820 he assisted in managing the trial of Queen Caroline by the house of lords. He became attorney general in 1824, was returned in 1826 with Viscount Palmerston as member for the university of Cambridge, and a few months later was made master of the rolls.
In 1827 he opposed the bill for Roman Catholic emancipation; but under Mr. Canning, who immediately after formed a cabinet on liberal principles, he accepted the chancellorship on the retirement of Lord Eldon, and was raised to the peerage as Baron Lyndhurst of Lyndhurst (April 27). He retained the great seal through the Canning, Goderich, and Wellington administrations, favoring the reformatory views of the first and the concessions of the last, advocating in 1828 the repeal of the test and corporation acts in opposition to Lord Eldon, and in 1829 supporting the scheme of Catholic emancipation. He resigned his office on the accession of Earl Grey to power in 1830, but this ministry gave him in 1831 the judicial station of lord chief baron of the exchequer, which he held till 1834. He was one of the most strenuous opponents of the reform bill, and was prominent in effecting the defeat and consequent resignation of Earl Grey's ministry on May 7, 1832. On the formation of the first Peel ministry in 1834 he was restored to the chancellorship, but relinquished it after the resignation of this ministry.
He efficiently resisted the claims urged by the Roman Catholics of Ireland, and was especially formidable from his custom of reviewing annually the measures of each parliamentary session in speeches remarkable for their sarcasm and brilliancy. When Sir Robert Peel returned to power in 1841, the great seal was for the third time given to Lord Lyndhurst. The fall of the Peel ministry in 1846 he regarded as the termination of his public life; but he afterward occasionally took a prominent part in the debates in the house of lords. He was twice married, but all his issue being daughters, his title expired with him.