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James Selby Bennett

James Selby Bennett

14th June, 1954 - 30th October 2020

“It is with great sadness that I write to announce the death of James Selby Bennett. James was a huge presence, a man of great intellect and varied abilities; an outstanding orator, a talented artist , devoted farmer and razor sharp lawyer. James was always loud, always feisty, sometimes difficult but absolutely always a champion of Humphries Kirk and each and every one of us. Words can’t express how much he will be missed.

Our thoughts are with his beloved wife and family.”



James died peacefully at home on Friday 30 October 2020 aged 66 years, leaving his wife Priscilla and his two sons, Andrew and Nicholas. There was nowhere better for James than Dorset and so, after leaving Eton, he came back to the family farm and began his articles with Humphries Kirk. At that time Humphries Kirk had four partners and two offices in Wareham and Swanage. During his articles, James was head-hunted by a large London firm, Theodore Goddard, and he worked for them in London, Paris and Madrid.

James was lured back to Wareham by Humphries Kirk and in the late 70’s became a partner of Humphries Kirk and remained with them for the rest of his legal career. He followed in the footsteps of his Principal, Harry Kirk, in being an outstanding advocate. He would appear often in the local Magistrates Court.

It is quite amazing how much he packed into his life. He lived at Slepe and ran the family farm, as well as being a Humphries Kirk Partner and was Commanding Officer of the Wessex Yeomanry. He was a trustee of the Military Museum, The Keep in Dorchester. He lived life to the full and was a larger than life character, both in the firm and in the county.

He was a very capable lawyer and had many successes in Court. He was very committed to the ethos of Humphries Kirk and he regarded of the highest importance, that the service provided to the clients of Humphries Kirk was one of excellence. He was loyal to his staff and would always be there to support them. All members of Humphries Kirk will miss his larger than life personality and regret that his life was cut short at what, in these days, is a young age.

Messages of Condolence

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    Sending my heartfelt condolences to all the family. James was a man of strong character, was liked by many, and professional to the last. He will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved him. I hope happy memories will help ease the pain at this sad time.
    MARIA BEDDINGFIELD (HUMPHRIES KIRK, POOLE)
    What can I say about James other than the last 15 years have been a complete joy to be his PA. There was never a dull moment, there were many funny moments, even more inappropriate jokes but above all many kind moments. My family and I are truly grateful for having known him and I am thankful for all the experiences, memories and laughter he provided. He fought his battle as a true soldier but a soldier with a very soft heart. I hope my small donation will go some way to honour his memory.
    SARAH FORD
    James was truly a modern Renaissance Man: farmer, soldier, artist, and most of all a brilliant lawyer. He will be sadly missed by huge numbers of people in many walks of life. it was a privilege to have known and worked with James. My deepest condolences go to Cilla and the family.
    MARTIN VARLEY
    Reading Sarah’s and Maria’s messages confirms my recollections that James, my partner for over 30 years , regarded his service of excellence to his clients and the support of all his staff as of paramount importance . He had a razor sharp brain and was a brilliant advocate . He was a larger than life personality and everyone would know when he arrived in their office with his booming voice . I could say more but I am so sad that his full life was cut short at what in these days is a young age
    FELICITY HEDGER
    James has been a part of my working life for the past 37 years when I joined Humphries Kirk. He quickly made a lasting impression upon me and his drive and enthusiasm in all things, as well as his support, influenced my decision to remain with the firm for so many years. He was an inspiration, great fun, at times annoying, but with such boisterous charm. His passing leaves a huge hole but a lot of great memories. I shall miss him greatly. With deepest sympathy to Scilla and the family.
    KAY LEVENE
    James truly was a wonderful colleague, boss, teacher and inspiration. I was very fortunate to work as James’ assistant and its thanks to him that I have become the solicitor I am today. He was always giving guidance and help with my work and my studies and even created a mock trial so I could practice for my advocacy exam . He was so kind and had a wonderful sense of humour. He had a drive which was second to none and he was a formidable lawyer. A man of great honour and of many talents. He will be greatly missed. Rest in peace and my sincere condolences to his family.
    NATASHA LONG (NEE CROSS)
    All staff and Partners at Humphries Kirk are deeply saddened at the news and hope that James can now rest in peace. Our thoughts and prayers are with James’ family and friends at this difficult time. With best wishes from all at Humphries Kirk
    HUMPHRIES KIRK