Sir John Scott

(Important in The Counterfeit Guest)

Sir John Scott (1751-1838) served as solicitor general and then attorney general from 1788 to 1799, and was later appointed lord chancellor. His tenure of that office (approximately 25 years in total) is the longest in history. As the Crown’s senior law officer, he drafted much of the anti-Republican legislation introduced in during the 1790s and undertook several high profile prosecutions for treason and seditious libel. He was certainly aware of government spies, although whether he had particular knowledge of the individuals and their activities is unclear. Politically conservative, he was also known for his extreme caution in legal matters. The latter tendency may have weakened him as a prosecutor, and undoubtedly contributed to the problem of ‘delays in Chancery’ that was satirised by Charles Dickens in Bleak House.