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The 1st Lord King, by Daniel de Coning, 1720.

Peter King, 1st Baron King PC, FRS (c. 1669–22 July 1734) was an English lawyer and politician, who became lord chancellor of England.



He was born at Exeter in 1669.

In his youth he was interested in early church history, and published anonymously in 1691 An Enquiry into the Constitution, Discipline, Unity and Worship of the Primitive Church that flourished within the first Three Hundred Years after Christ. This treatise engaged the interest of his cousin, John Locke, the philosopher, by whose advice his father sent him to the university of Leiden, where he stayed for nearly three years. He entered the Middle Temple in 1694 and was called to the bar in 1698.

In 1700 he was returned to parliament for Bere Alston in Devon; he was appointed recorder of Glastonbury in 1705 and recorder of London in 1708. He was chief justice of the common pleas from 1714 to 1725, when he was appointed speaker of the House of Lords and was raised to the peerage. In June of the same year he was made lord chancellor, holding office until compelled by a paralytic stroke to resign in 1733. He was admitted a Fellow of the Royal Society on 14 November 1728.[1] He died at Ockham, Surrey, on the 22nd of July 1734.

Lord King as chancellor failed to sustain the reputation which he had acquired at the common law bar. Nevertheless he left his mark on English law by establishing the principles that a will of immovable property is governed by the lex loci rei sitae, and that where a husband had a legal right to the personal estate of his wife, which must be asserted by a suit in equity, the court would not help him unless he made a provision out of the property for the wife, if she required it. He was also the author of the Act (4 Geo. II. c. 26) by virtue of which English superseded Latin as the language of the courts.


Lord King published in 1702 a History of the Apostles' Creed (Leipzig, 1706; Basel, 1750) which went through several editions and was also translated into Latin.


  • R. v. Woodburne and Coke
  • Keech v. Sandford (1726) Sel. Cas. Ch. 61
  • Coppin v. Coppin (1725) - a will settling land in England must conform to the rules of English law, even when made abroad
  • Croft v. Pyke (1733) - a partner's joint estate is liable first to the debts of the partnership, before payment of legacies to heirs
  • Milner v. Colmer (1731) and Brown et Uxor v. Elton (1733) - the practice of the court was to compel a husband to make a settlement on the wife before recovering his wife's portion by equity


  1. ^ "Lists of Royal Society Fellows". Retrieved 2006-12-15.  
Parliament of England
Preceded by
John Hawles
James Montagu
Member of Parliament for Bere Alston
with Sir Rowland Gwynne 1701
William Cowper 1701–1705
Spencer Cowper 1705–1707

Succeeded by
Parliament of Great Britain
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Parliament of England
Member of Parliament for Bere Alston
with Spencer Cowper 1707–1710
Lawrence Carter 1710–1715

Succeeded by
Lawrence Carter
Horatio Walpole
Legal offices
Preceded by
The Lord Trevor
Chief Justice of the Common Pleas
Succeeded by
Sir Robert Eyre
Political offices
Preceded by
In Commission
Lord Chancellor
Succeeded by
The Lord Talbot
Peerage of Great Britain
Preceded by
New Creation
Baron King
Succeeded by
John King

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