ELDON, JOHN SCOTT, EARL OF, rose to the eminent station which he ultimately held from a bumble be.sinning. All that is known about his ancestry is that his grandfather is reported by tradi tion to have been a clerk in the office of a coal-fitter at Newcastle, and a man of very good repute ; be is described in a written docu ment, of the year 1716, as William Scott, of Sandgate (one of the streets of that town), yeoman. His son, Mr. William Scott, the father of Lord Eldon, followed the business of what is called a coal-fitter, defined by his son's biographer to be "the factor who conducts the sales between the owner and the shipper, taking the shipper's order for the commodity, supplying the cargo to him, and receiving from him the price of it for the owner." In this line he prospered so much that at his death, at the age of seventy-nine, 6th November 1776, ho appears to have left to his family, including what some of them had previously received from him, property to the amount of between thirty and forty thousand pounds. Mr. William Scott was twice married. By his first wife, Isabella Noble, who died January 1734, he had three children, all of whose descendants are extinct; by his second, Jane Atkinson, daughter of Henry Atkinson, Esq., of Newcastle, whom he married in August 1740, he had thirteen children, of whom the eldest son, William, afterwards Lord Stowell, was born in 1745, and of whom John, the future chancellor, was the eighth.
John Scott was born in 1751—as ho believed, on the 4th of June— at his father's house in Love-lane, Newcastle, the site of which is now partly occupied by other smaller houses, partly taken in to widen Forster-street. lie was educated, with his elder brothers, William and Henry, at the grammar school of his native place, commonly called the Head School, where the head master was the Rev. llugh Moises, a respectable scholar and an excellent teacher, but one who did not spare the rod. William went to Oxford iu 1761. [Sroweit, Loma.] It was their father's intention to bring up John to his own business; but when he was making arrangements for that purpose in 1766, William wrote home from Oxford, advising that he should be sent up to him : " I can," be said, " do better for him here." Accordingly, on the 15th of May of that year, he was entered a commoner of University College. On the 11th of July 1767, he was elected to a fellowship in his college, having then just completed hie sixteenth year ; ho took his Bachelor's degree 20th February 1770; gained, in 1771, the chancellor's prize of 20/. for an English prose essay on ' The Advantages and Disadvantages of Foreign Travel' (published in Tal boya's Collection of the Oxford English Prize Essays,' 1830); but for feited hie fellowship by running off, on the 18th of November 1772, with Miss Elizabeth Surtees, daughter of Aubono Surtees, Esq., banker of Newcastle, whom be married at Blackshiels, in Scotland, the next day. The lady's father was very angry; and it was some little time before he was reconciled ; but at last he agreed to give his daughter a portion of 10004 Mr. Scott making over to his son an equal sum. Meanwhile, it le said, a grocer of Newcastle, a friend of the family, who was well to do In the world, had kindly offered to take the yonng man into partnership; and it was only another interference of his elder brother William which prevented the father closing with this proposal. It was then determined that he should enter into holy orders If a University College living fell vacant duriog the twelve months of grace, as they are called, for which he was still allowed to hold his fellowship ' • that event did not happen, and ho then made up his mind, it is said with some reluctance, to try the profession of the law. Ile had entered himself a student of the Middle Temple in January 1773; and he took his degree of Master of Arta on the 13th of February in the same year.
During the years 1774 and 1775 he held the office of a tutor of University Cthrege where his brother William was at the time senior tutor ; but it ta believed that all he did in that capacity was to attend to the law studies of some of the members of the college. lie received none of the emoluments of the office. One or both of these years also be read the law lectures, as deputy for Sir Robert Chambers, the Vinerian professor; and for this service he had 60/. a year. Awkwardly enough, the first lecture he had to read was upon the statue 4 and 5 Phil. and M., c. 8, Of young men running away with maidens; ' and it so chanced that he had to deliver it immediately after it was put into his hands, and without knowing a word that was in it. "Fancy me reading," he said, when telling the story long afterwards, "with about 140 boys all giggling at the professor. Such a tittering audience no one ever had." Mr. Scott was called to the bar on the 9th of February 1776, on which he came up with his wife to London, and took a small house in Cursitor-street, from which he soon after removed to another in Carey-street. He naturally joined the Northern Circuit; but it was, as usual, some time before he began to make much by his practice. Indeed after a trial of two or three years his prospects of success in London seemed ao unpromising, that he had made arrangements for settling as a provincial counsel in his native town, when, in July 1778, he was brought into considerable notice by his argument in the cause of Ackroyd v. Smithson (1 Bro. C. C. 503), heard before Sir Thomas Sewell, Master of the Rolls; and he obtained still more repute when Sir Thomas's judgment, which was adverse to his client, was reversed in March 1780, by Lord Chancellor Thurlow, in accordance with Scott's reasoning, which has decided all similar questions ever since. The question was what should be done with one of a number of shares into which a testator had directed that the money obtained by the sale of his real estates should be divided, the party to whom he had given the share by his will having died in the testator's lifetime. Mr. Scott contended that the share, being land, at the death of the testator came to the heir-at-law. Even for some time after this success how ever he still retained the idea of settling in Newcastle; and bad actually made a hones be taken for him in that town, of which he had also accepted the Recordership. One year, apparently 1780, he did not go the circuit, because he could not afford it ; he had already, to use his own words, borrowed of his brother for several circuits, without getting adequate remuneration. But when matters were in this state he unexpeotedly found such an opportunity of distinguishing himself in an election case (that of Clitheroe) before a committee of the House of Commons as at once changed his position, and with that his plans for the future. Having been applied to iu the absence of the counsel who was to have led, Mr. Scott, upon the refusal of the next counsel to lead because he was not prepared, was persuaded to take the conduct of the case at a few hours' notice. It lasted for fifteen days. "It found me poor enough," said he, relating the circumstances in his old age, " but I began to be rich before it was done : they left me fifty guineas at the beginning; then there were ten guineas every day, and five guineas every evening for a consulta tion—more money than I could count. But, better still, the length of the cause gave me time to make myself thoroughly acquainted with the law." He was beaten in the committee by one vote ; but the ability he bad shown did not the less establish his reputation.