The Life of John Coleridge Patteson
Childhood At Home And At School, 1827-1838
So much of a man's cast of character depends upon his home and parentage, that no
biography can be complete which does not look back at least as far as the lives of the
father and mother, from whom the disposition is sure to be in part inherited, and by
whom it must often be formed. Indeed, the happiest natures are generally those which
have enjoyed the full benefit of parental training without dictation, and have been led, but
not forced, into the way in which they should go.
Therefore it will not be irrelevant to dwell on the career of the father whose name, though
still of great weight in his own profession, may not be equally known to the younger
generation who have grown up since the words 'Mr. Justice Patteson' were of frequent
occurrence in law reports.
John Patteson, father of the subject of the present memoir, was son to a clergyman of a
Norfolk family, and was born at Coney Weston, on February 11, 1790. He was educated
at Eton, and there formed more than one friendship, which not only lasted throughout his
life, but extended beyond his own generation. Sport and study flourished alike among
such lads as these; and while they were taught by Dr. Groodall to delight in the peculiarly
elegant and accurate scholarship which was the characteristic of the highest education of
their day, their boyhood and youth were full of the unstained mirth that gives such
radiance to recollections of the past, and often causes the loyalty of affectionate
association to be handed on to succeeding generations. The thorough Etonian impress,
with all that it involved, was of no small account in his life, as well as in that of his son.
The elder John Patteson was a colleger, and passed on to King's College, Cambridge,
whence, in 1813, he came to London to study law. In 1816 he opened his chambers as a
special pleader, and on February 23, 1818, was married to his cousin, Elizabeth Lee, after
a long engagement. The next year, 1819, he was called to the Bar, and began to go the
Northern circuit. On April 3, 1820, Mrs. Patteson died, leaving one daughter, Joanna
Elizabeth. Four years later, on April 22, 1824, Mr. Patteson married Frances Duke
Coleridge, sister of his friend and fellow-barrister, John Taylor Coleridge. This lady,
whose name to all who remember her calls up a fair and sweet memory of all that was
good, bright, and beloved, was the daughter of James Coleridge, of Heath's Court, Ottery
St. Mary, Devon, Colonel of the South Devon Volunteers. He was the eldest of the
numerous family of the Rev. John Coleridge, Master of Ottery St. Mary School, and the
poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, was the youngest.
The strong family affection that existed between all Colonel Coleridge's children, and
concentrated itself upon the only sister among them, made marriage with her an adoption
into a group that could not fail to exercise a strong influence on all connected with it, and
the ties of kindred will be found throughout this memoir to have had peculiar force.
John Coleridge Patteson, his mother's second child and eldest son, was born at No. 9,
Grower Street, Bedford Square, on the 1st of April, 1827, and baptized on the 8th.