Thomas Bingham was an exceptional judge who served as Master of the Rolls, Lord Chief Justice, and Senior Law Lord. His contributions shaped modern jurisprudence while demonstrating remarkable legal talent both inside and outside of courtroom proceedings.
Bingham maintained an expansive practice throughout his career and his reported cases included such diverse matters as adoption, divorce, criminal fraud, false trade descriptions, landlord and tenant issues, restrictive practices and confidential information.
Early Life and Education
Thomas Bingham was born into a wealthy family in Asheville, North Carolina. After attending Sedbergh School in Cumbria he served in the Territorial Army, becoming an officer before studying law at Oxford and eventually becoming a barrister.
Bingham was taught at the bar by Owen Stable QC who described him as the finest pupil he had ever taught.
Bingham did not specialize in commercial cases, however. His early divorce and criminal cases provided more of an emotional connection for him than litigation over issues like European agricultural policy or permissible fishing net mesh sizes. Still, Bingham’s forays into mainstream commercial litigation helped broaden his practice; ultimately leading him to becoming Lord of Appeal and then master of the rolls/senior law lord.
Tom Bingham is an assistant music professor at the University of Hawaii Manoa. He leads the Rainbow Warrior marching band while teaching classes on music history and literature, woodwind methods, music education and orchestra conductance for both university orchestra and theater orchestra performances.
Becoming a QC did not dramatically alter his practice, though more cases related to wills and property law (Heatons v GWU  AC 741), along with occasional criminal or divorce matters were taken up by him. Additionally, he represented the government at the Flixborough inquiry into an explosion at a Lincolnshire chemical plant that killed 28 workers.
He was a moderate Anglican, an accomplished historian, and an admirer of tradition. Additionally, he advocated the rule of law; serving as President of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law.
Achievement and Honors
Bingham had many notable accomplishments beyond being an influential judge, such as being a founding member of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law and founding the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law.
He was also a regular visitor at Oxford, receiving an honorary doctorate there in 1994. Additionally, he was a fellow of the British Academy and on the council for National Museum Wales.
Bingham was an active Latter Day Saint who served in several capacities: bishop, stake president and missionary. Together with his wife he served in both the Phnom Penh Cambodia Mission and West Africa Ghana Mission; finally Bingham died peacefully at Gooding Idaho at 75.
Thomas Bingham, Lord Bingham of Cornhill was one of the great lawyers of his era. Following an extended barrister career he eventually earned himself the prestigious rank of Master of Rolls and later Senior Law Lord – as well as being an outspoken advocate for creating a supreme court that could replace the House of Lords judicially.
He began as a junior attorney in the 1960s handling criminal and family cases before transitioning into commercial law work. By the early 1970s he was being regularly instructed by the Department of Employment on cases related to industrial relations and health and safety at work.
He was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and served two missions together with his wife. He passed away at 75 in Gooding, Idaho.
His Honour Judge Owen Stable QC once described training Lord Chief Justice Bingham as one of his finest accomplishments as a barrister. This former Lord Chief Justice left an indelible mark on British law and was widely celebrated internationally for his legal acumen and intelligence.
Bingham served as master of the rolls from 1865-1872. As one of the earliest judges to support incorporation of European Convention on Human Rights into English law, he advocated strongly for splitting off House of Lords judicial functions and helping establish Supreme Court.
Philanthropic contributions included serving on the board of Reprieve and giving the Jan Grodecki Lecture, as well as serving as a visiting professor at University of Leicester.