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William Webb Follett

In the chapel of St Michael in Westminster Abbey is an over life-size white marble statue in memory of Sir William Webb Follett (1796-1845), eminent lawyer and politician. He wears a barrister's gown and holds a scroll in his left hand, resting it on three books. The statue is by William Behnes (1849) and was originally in the north transept. The inscription reads:

This monument, raised by public subscription, is sacred to the memory of Sir William Webb Follett. He died on the 28th June 1845, being at the time of his decease representative in Parliament for the city of Exeter and Attorney General to Queen Victoria. Of unblemished conduct in every relation of life, of manner gentle and prepossessing; combining with great legal knowledge extraordinary powers of persuasive eloquence he attained with the esteem, admiration, and goodwill, of all who witnessed his brilliant career the highest eminence as an advocate and Parliamentary speaker. The general hope and expectation that he was destined for the highest honours of the law, were blighted by his untimely death. After a severe and protracted illness, aggravated, if not caused by his unremitting devotion to his public and professional duties, he died at the age of 48 years, heartily thankful to Almighty God for the many mercies vouchsafed to him, and in humble reliance on the merits of his Redeemer.

William was born on 2nd December 1796 at Topsham in Devon, the eldest son of Benjamin Follett (d.1833) and his wife Anne (Webb). He was educated at Exeter and at Trinity College, Cambridge. On 11th October 1830 he married Jane Mary (1808-1847), daughter of Sir Ambrose Hardinge Gifford and they had five sons (George, Hardinge, Richard, Edward and Robert) and a daughter Anna. After a lucrative legal career he also became a Member of Parliament and was knighted in 1834. He was called the greatest advocate of his generation. He is buried in the Temple Church, London.

Further reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004

Follett, our great lawyer by D. Pugsley, 1991

Born

2nd December 1796

Died

28th June 1845

Occupation

Lawyer; politician

Location

St Michael's Chapel

Memorial Type

Statue

Material Type

Marble

William Webb Follett
Sir William Webb Follett by Sir Martin Archer Shee

© National Portrait Gallery, London [Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 3.0]

William Webb Follett
William Webb Follett memorial

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2020 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

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It’s very hard not to be enthusiastic working at the Abbey. If this place doesn’t make you smile I don’t know what will.

Valerie - Foundation Director

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