Mr Justice Bigham Lord Mersey

May 12, 2005
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John Charles Bigham, Viscount Mersey (1840-1929)

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I thought a few little facts about Mersey, supplied by my kinfolk, the English Bighams, might be amusing. According to them, Mersey liked chicken sandwiches and ate several a day. He also had a crush on the music hall diva Marie Lloyd and wrote her adoring fan letters. He was pals with Gilbert & Sullivan, who were his contemporaries, attending both their funerals. Into his old age, Mersey amused dinner guests with quips and songs from their work, including a particularly lilting:

"...And ev'ry one will say,
As you walk your mystic way,
'If this young man expresses himself in terms too deep for me,
Why, what a very singularly deep young man this deep young man must be!...'"

Also worth mentioning: Mersey's son, Captain the Hon. Clive Bigham, supposedly had to wake him up from naps several times during the Titanic Inquiry! This will not surprise detractors of my esteemed distant cousin.

Randy
(who has inherited his forebear's love of barnyard foul for lunch and his misfortune in taking rather grim-faced photos!)
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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Further to the above comments on Lord Mersey and Gilbert and Sullivan, I have been made privy to an interesting document, courtesy of contacts in the English legal profession.

It's rather long to post here, so I've added it to my site.

http://users.senet.com.au/~gittins/Verse.html

It's well down the page, after the two parodies. It throws new light on Mersey as a "judicial humorist", as Gilbert called would-be witty judges.
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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Time to come clean!

Part of my posting about Lord Mersey and Gilbert and Sullivan is perfectly true. Mersey knew both of them, especially Gilbert, and he really was a capable singer. It's in his son's autobiography, A Picture of Life. (By the way, there is no major Biography of Lord Mersey. His son thought of writing one, but felt he was too ignorant of the law to do a good job).

The song itself, is by a certain Aussie ratbag with a talent for parody. If you feel the urge to sing it at a Titanic meeting, go right ahead. The tune is of course Sir Joseph Porter's song, from HMS Pinafore.
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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Michael, I don't recall for sure whether he did in the book I saw, but I don't think he did. His biography is in two parts and I don't think the library I used has both volumes. I'll check.
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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Michael, I did a bit of digging and found that if the Persia affair is mentioned it would be in the second volume, which covers 1940 to 1951.

It's called Journal and Memories. It was published by Murray in London in 1952. A good library might have it, though perhaps not in the USA. I can get hold of it with some difficulty, as the library that has it is miles away.

Let me know how you go.
 

Mike Poirier

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Dec 31, 2004
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Hi Dave
Thanks for checking into that. I guess the first volume ends around the Titanic? Since Persia was 1915. Definitely worth looking into.
Mike
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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If Persia was in 1915, it should be in the first volume, which goes into the 1930s at least, because it describes Lord Mersey's death. I only read the parts about him and the Titanic inquiry.

Silly me thought Persia was in WW II!