Samuel Romilly (1757- 1818) was a British legal reformer. He was born in Frith Street, Soho, to Peter Romilly, a watchmaker and jeweller. His grandfather had fled Montpelier after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, and married Margaret Garnault, a fellow Huguenot refugee.
Samuel was well educated and became a good classical scholar with a particular interest in French literature. Romilly was determined to go to the bar, and entered himself at Gray’s Inn, Chancery Lane, in 1778. Romilly was a staunch supporter of the abolition of the slave trade, and gave his support to William Wilberforce’s abolition campaign.
With his law reforms he abolished and repealed many draconian statutes, including hanging, drawing and quartering, and the Elizabethan statutes of stealing and soldiers begging without permission from their commanding officer being capital offences.