Frederick Edwin Smith Birkenhead, 1st earl of

Birkenhead, Frederick Edwin Smith, 1st earl of (bûrˈkənhĕdˌ) [key], 1872–1930, British statesman and jurist. He was called to the bar in 1899 and entered the House of Commons as a Conservative in 1906. A brilliant orator, he soon gained prominence as a Conservative spokesman, particularly in the fight against Irish Home Rule. He was solicitor general (1915), attorney general (1915–19), in which capacity he prosecuted Sir Roger Casement, and lord chancellor (1919–22). Created earl in 1922, he was (1924–28) secretary of state for India. His books include International Law (4th ed. 1911), Famous Trials of History (1927), Law, Life, and Letters (1927).

See biography by his son, Frederick, 2d earl of Birkenhead (1933–35, rev. ed. 1959).

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