ECCLES, HENRY, lawyer; b. in 1817 in the parish of Weston, near Bath, England, eldest son of Hugh Eccles, a captain of the 61st Regiment, and his wife Elizabeth; d. 3 Nov. 1863 at Toronto, Canada West.
The Eccles family immigrated to Canada in 1835 and lived at Niagara (Niagara-on-the-Lake) until 1841. Young Henry received no formal education; instead, his father, a gold medallist of Trinity College, Dublin, educated him at home. Henry afterwards articled with James Boulton in Toronto. He was admitted to the Law Society of Upper Canada on 3 Aug. 1840 and was called to the bar in the spring of 1842. In 1842, also, he married Jane Lelièvre, the daughter of Captain Francis T. Lelièvre, at one time the assistant commissary general of Canada; one child, a son, was to be born to them. In 1853 Eccles was elected bencher of the Law Society, and in 1856 he was appointed queen’s counsel. From 1854 until his death his law partner was Charles Ingersoll Carroll, and James H. Doyle was also a partner from 1856 to 1861.
Henry Eccles took little part in public affairs. Although his father and his younger brother William, a St Catharines lawyer, were active supporters of George Brown* and the Reformers, and he was himself sympathetic to the Reform cause, he was content to spend his time in the company of his family and a small circle of friends. In law, however, he was renowned for his logic, his deductive thinking, and his exceptional ability to simplify issues for a jury. At a time when accurate and concise pleadings were often crucial to a case, his peers considered him to be one of the best pleaders of his day. The addresses he made to juries at the end of his cases were looked upon as models. In addition, his appearance was imposing for he was tall and erect, and his voice was pleasing and described as musical.
Globe, 3 Nov. 1863. Leader, 3 Nov. 1863. Solicitors’ Journal and Reporter (London), VIII (1863–64), 71. Brown’s Toronto general directory, 1856 . . . (Toronto, ). Brown’s Toronto general directory, 1861 . . . , comp. W. R. Brown (Toronto, ). Caverhill’s Toronto city directory, for 1859–60 . . . , comp. W. C. F. Caverhill (Toronto, n.d.). Morgan, Sketches of celebrated Canadians, 276–77. The Upper Canada law directory, for 1857, comp. J. L. Rordans (Toronto, 1856). The Upper Canada law list, 1858, comp. J. L. Rordans (Toronto, 1858). The Upper Canada law list for 1860–61, comp. J. L. Rordans (Toronto, 1860). The Upper Canada law list , comp. J. L. Rordans et al. (Toronto, 1862). E. H. Jones, “The Great Reform Convention of 1859” (unpublished phd thesis, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ont., 1971).