Sir William Wade

Henry William Rawson Wade

(1918-01-16)16 January 1918
Died12 March 2004(2004-03-12) (aged 86)
Other namesHWR Wade
EducationGonville and Caius College, Cambridge
Marie Osland-Hill
(m. 1943; died 1980)

Marjorie Hope-Gill
(m. 1982; died 2001)
Children2 sons
Scientific career
FieldsConstitutional law, United Kingdom administrative law

Sir Henry William Rawson Wade QC FBA (16 January 1918 – 12 March 2004)[2] was a British academic lawyer, best known for his work on the law of real property and administrative law.[3]

Wade was educated at Shrewsbury School and at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. After a fellowship at Harvard University, he began his career as a civil servant in the Treasury, before being elected to a fellowship at Trinity College, Cambridge in 1946. From 1961 to 1976 he was Professor of English Law at Oxford University and a fellow of St John's College, Oxford, and from 1978 to 1982 Rouse Ball Professor of English Law at Cambridge University; from 1976 to 1988 he was Master of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. He held the degrees of MA and LLD, and the honorary degree of LittD from Cambridge University.

In 1985, he gave evidence for the defence at the trial of Clive Ponting for an alleged breach of the Official Secrets Act for revealing details of the conduct of the Falklands war, at which Ponting was acquitted.[4]

He believed and first proposed that the "Parliament Acts are delegated, not primary, legislation"[2][5]

Wade was an oarsman, mountaineer and a keen gardener in latter years.


  1. ^ Professor Sir William Wade, The Telegraph, 18 Mar 2004
  2. ^ a b "Parliamentary Standard Note on the Parliament Acts" (PDF). (235 KB) (SN/PC/00675) (last updated 24 February 2014, in PDF format, 29 pages)
  3. ^ Professor Sir William Wade, Q.C. passes away,, Thursday 22 April 2004.
  4. ^ Sir William Wade, Guardian, 24 March 2004
  5. ^ “The basis of legal sovereignty”, Cambridge Law Journal, 1955, pp 172-97
Academic offices Preceded byJoseph Needham Master of Gonville and Caius College 1976–1988 Succeeded byPeter Gray