The worm has turned. Obiter is fed up with solicitors automatically appearing as baddies in popular culture (not to mention government policy). It is time to start celebrating the profession’s historic heroes. Hero number one was inspired by this month’s 150th anniversary of the London Underground (pictured).
What, you didn’t know that the Underground was the brainchild of a lawyer – a local government solicitor, to boot?
Charles Pearson, admitted to the roll in 1816, came up with the idea of a subterranean railway and tirelessly promoted its construction while solicitor to the Corporation of London. It wasn’t the only cause dear to his heart: he achieved early fame by publicising jury-packing in political trials, campaigned successfully against the ban on Jews being granted the freedom of the City and also for the removal of an inscription on the Monument attributing the great fire of 1666 to Catholic conspiracy.
You can almost hear the Victorian harrumphing of ‘political correctness gone mad!’.
Pearson’s oeuvre also includes the 1849 publication Are the citizens of London to have better gas?Obiter has no idea, but does know that Pearson’s rail dream took shape in the Metropolitan Line from Paddington to Farringdon Street, which opened in 1863.
Sadly, Pearson never experienced strap-hanging – he died in 1862, aged 68. But next time you hear the cry ‘mind the gap’, you’ll know whom to thank.
So, who will be Obiter’s next historic hero? Nominations, please, to firstname.lastname@example.org. There will be prizes for the most unexpected names.