Educated at Rugby, Winchester and Oxford, Roundell Palmer was called to the Bar in 1837. Ten years later he was elected Conservative MP for Plymouth. A supporter of Sir Robert Peel, Palmer joined him in opposition and remained with the Peelites, eventually joining the newly created Liberal Party in 1859. Palmer served under Lords Palmerston and Russell as Solicitor General and Attorney General. In 1872 Gladstone appointed him Lord Chancellor. In 1873 Selborne was responsible for the Judicature Act which reorganised the court system and established the High Court and the Court of Appeal. Selborne returned to the Woolsack in Gladstone’s Second Administration but split with Gladstone in 1885 over Irish Home Rule and joined the Liberal Unionists. In June 1860 Selborne was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. Selborne died in 1895.