SIR JOHN BARNARD BYLES (1801-1884), Barrister, Judge, Author, was eldest son of Mr. Jeremiah Byles, timber-merchant, of Stowmarket in Suffolk, by his wife, the only daughter of William Barnard, of Holts in Essex. He was born at Stowmarket in 1801. He became a member of the Inner Temple and, after reading as a pupil in the chambers of Chitty, the great pleader, and for a time practicing as a special pleader himself, at 1 Garden Court, Temple, was called to the Bar in November 1831.
He joined the Norfolk circuit and attended sessions in that county. In 1840 he was appointed recorder of Buckingham, and in 1843 was raised to the degree of Serjeant-at-law. When in 1846 the court of common pleas was opened to all the members of the bar, John Barnard Byles received a Patent of Precedence in all courts.
He rapidly acquired a large and leading practice both on his own circuit, which he led for many years after Sir Fitzroy Kelly became Solicitor-general, and also in London.

 About 1855 Sir Barnard  Byles resigned his recordership, and in 1857 he was appointed Queen's Serjeant, along with Serjeants Shee and Wrangham. This was the last appointment of Queen's Serjeants (see PULLING, Order of the Coif, 41, 182).
 Though he never sat in parliament, he was always a strong and old-fashioned conservative. He was once a candidate for Aylesbury, but being a rigid unitarian, and constant attendant at a Unitarian chapel, was unacceptable to the church party. Nevertheless he was selected by Lord Cranworth in January 1858, though of opposite politics, for promotion to the bench, and when Sir Cresswell retired, he was made a Knight and Justice of the Common Pleas. 

He proved a very strong judge, courteous, genial and humorous, and of especial learning in mercantile affairs; he was one of the judges who won for the court of common pleas its high repute and popularity among commercial litigants. Nevertheless, both as an advocate and a judge his mind was marked by a defect singular in one of his indubitable ability.
 He displayed a serious want of readiness in his perception of the facts of a case. What, however, he lacked in rapidity of mind, he made up for by extreme accuracy. He was an expert shorthand writer.

 In January 1873 failure of health and memory and inability any longer to sustain the labour of going to circuit compelled him to resign his judgeship. He received a pension, and along with Baron Channell became, on 3 March, a member of the Privy Council, and for some time, when his presence was required, he continued to attend the sittings of the judicial committee.   He continued to reside at Hanfield House, I Uxbridge, where and in London he was a well-known figure on his old white horse, and was occupied largely with literary interests until his death, which occurred on 3 Feb. 1884, in his  eighty-third year.

 In the course of his lifetime he published a considerable number of works. Before he was called he delivered a series of lectures on commercial law in the hall of Lyon's Inn, and the first of these, delivered 3 November 1829, he published at the request and risk of friends, and without alteration, under the title of ' A Discourse on the Present State of the Law of England '

About the same time he published " A Practical Compendium of the Law of Bills of Exchange " which has since become the standard work on this branch of law, and has reached over twenty-six editions. The sixth edition he dedicated to Baron Parke, and in the preparation of the ninth he was assisted by his son Maurice.
During the long vacation of 1845, while absent from London he composed a pamphlet called ' Observations on the Usury Laws, with, suggestions for Amendment and a Draft Bill " which he published in the October following.  

A keen protectionist, in 1849 he wrote  a work called  "Sophisms of Free Trade " which at once ran through eight editions, and was reprinted by his permission, but without his name, in 1870, with his notes brought up to date, by the Manchester Reciprocity Association. The book expressly disclaims party motives and displays considerable and wide reading.

 In 1875, after his retirement, he published 'Foundations of Religion in the Mind and Heart of Man.' It is non controversial and didactic, and was written at different times and at considerable intervals.
 He was twice married, first in 1828 to a daughter of Mr. John Foster, of Biggleswade, who died very shortly after the marriage; second in 1836 to a daughter of Mr. James Webb, of Royston, who died in 1872. He had several children ; the eldest son, Walter Barnard, was called to the Bar in 1865, the second, Maurice Barnard, in 1866, and was for some years a revising barrister.

Below is a letter written by  Sir John  on the 6th. January 1854 to a publisher in New York. ( Original held by Alan Byles as of April 2005)

 [Foss's Lives of the Judges; Davy's Athena Suifolcienses, iv. 35 ; Davy's Suffolk Collections; Add. MS. 19121, pp. 351-2; Men of the Time, ed. 1879; Law Journal, viii.. 33; Solicitors' Journal, 9 Feb. 1834; Serjeaut Ballantine's Reminiscences, p. 190.]
Books Currently Available:

Sophisms Of Free-Trade And Popular Political Economy Examined 
By  SIR JOHN BARNARD BYLES, Bookseller: De Wolfe & Wood
(Alfred, ME, U.S.A.)Price: 10.79 Book Description: Philadelphia, Pa: Henry Carey Baird, 1872. Fair; ex-library copy (bookplate, etc.); covers loose. 291. 1st Amer. edition. Bookseller Inventory #BOOKS052994I
 A Treatise on the Law of Bills of Exchange, Promissory Notes, Bank-Notes, and Checks.
Byles, Sir John Barnard. (Notes By George Sharswood).  (Greensboro, NC, U.S.A.) Price: 26.98 Book Description: Philadelphia: T. And J. W. Johnson and Co. 1874. Very Good. Sixth American Edition. 8vo. 783 pages, indexed. Bound in full sheep with dual labels (black and red) on spine.  
Byles on Bills of Exchange (ISBN:0421140100) Sir John Barnard Byles  Bookseller:, LIN, United Kingdom)  Price: 178.74 Book Description: Sweet & M 1972. .Hardcover,Ex-Library,with usual stamps markings, ,in good all-round condition, ,471pages., 1100grams, ISBN:0421140100. Bookseller Inventory #192717
 Byles On Bills Of Exchange And Cheques (ISBN:0421456000)
SIR JOHN BARNARD BYLES  Bookseller: Bookplace Ltd (Watford, ., UK) Price: 207.00 Book Description: SWEET & MAXWELL LTD 1997 UK. new Hardback 27TH ED Provides a detailed narrative account of the law of bills of exchange, promissory notes, bank notes and cheques, arranged in order of topics covered by the Bills of Exchange Act 1882 and Cheques Act 1957. This survey traces the development of the law through recent legislation and case law. Book Inventory #0421456000
 Byles on bills of exchange : the law of bills of exchange, promissory notes, bank notes and cheques Author/s  Sir John Barnard Byles ...Edition  26th ed / by Frank R Ryder and Antonio Bueno ; with the assistance of Richard Hedley Publisher  London : Sweet & Maxwell, 1988 ...ISBN  0 421 38090 X Location  17 BYL Pmb library   Accession no  1990/051

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