Ardeshir Kapadia (Barrister-at-Law)
Information provided by:
Frances Bellis, Assistant Librarian, Lincoln's Inn Library
Andrew Mussell, Archevist, The Honourable Society of Gray's Inn
Original Research: Duncan Bray, 2010
My wife's paternal great-grandfather

Ardeshir was born in Bombay, India, in 1865 the only son of Rustomji Pestomji Kapadia, a general broker.

Note: Ongoing research by Alan Stuart-Tilley has determined that Rustomji Perstomji Kapadia emigrated to, and died in Shanghai, where he was a prominent businessman, sometime after Ardeshir emigrated to London.

He studied Law at the University of Bombay.

 was admitted to Lincoln's Inn on 14 January 1885,

aged 20

and 'Called to the Bar' at Lincoln's Inn on 28 April 1888.


He is listed from 1889 to 1926 as practicing in Indian Appeals, Privy Council, but without a chambers address.

The Court of Appeal in London was the most senior court at that time and dealt also with cases tried in other Commonwealth Countries.

Several different Chambers addresses were used by him during his career:

1891-1900  3, Middle Temple Lane

1901  no address

1902-1903  3 Essex Court, Temple

1904   23 Old Buildings, Lincoln's Inn

1905-1906   4 Harcourt Buildings, Temple

<-Photo:9 Sept 1915 - Council Outing, Ilford Urban District Council

Aldborough Grange, Ilford - Ardeshir & Zoe's main residence->

Photos: Colin Stuart & Alan Stuart-Tilley

He was the defence counsel in the high-profile trial of the notorious Amelia Dyer, the baby farmer, at The Old Bailey, in 1896. She was tried on 21 and 22 May 1896, found Guilty, and subsequently hanged in Newgate Prison on 10 June 1896. Her ghost was said to haunt Newgate Prison.

Ardeshir built her defence around a plea of 'insanity' and although probably true, the jury took only a few minutes to reach their verdict.

Trial Transcript from the Old Bailey:

Source: Julia Bray

(Much has been written about this case over the years and many references to it can be found on the internet)

As a result of this and similar previous cases, Parliament passed a number of acts to better protect babies and small children, including the Infant Life Protection Act of 1897 and the Children's Act of 1908. The government also introduced proper regulations for adoption and fostering which finally brought an end to baby farming in Britain.

His obituary appeared in the "Law Times", a contemporary legal journal dated 23 April 1927 but it only states that he died "recently at the age of 64" and that he was a Lincolns Inn barrister.

Another obituary in "The Straits Times, 19 April 1927, Page 10 (on the website of the National library of Singapore) refers to the Amelia Dyer Case and provides some additional information about his wife.

Echo of Baby Farming Case

London, April 6:- The death has occurred in Ilford of Mr. Ardeshir Kapadia, the barrister who defended, at the Old Bailey, Mrs Dyer, the notorious baby farmer in 1896. Mr Kapadia was the son of a Bombay Parsee and he married an Englishwoman, who died at Hastings in 1925, since when he has visited her grave every weekend.

Ref: "The Straits Times", 19 April 1927

Corrections: BMD Records give Ardeshir's age at death as 61, and Zoe, his wife, died in 1923. Their main home was The Grange, Aldborough Hatch, Ilford, Essex. Their holiday home was in Hastings. Both are buried in Hastings.

Family Relationship: Ardeshir Kapadia was my wife's paternal Great Grandfather - Alan Stuart-Tilley is her nephew.

Subsequent family history research by Alan Stuart-Tilley, (Ardeshir's great-great grandson) has revealed that Zoe Davina Halton Kapadia, formerly Zoe Davina Halton Hanrott-Young had a family background steeped in the legal tradition which may explain how she met Ardeshir Kapadia - this is, for the moment, speculative.

Further Research Notes:

(i): In 1905, Ardeshir was in some way involved in the publication of a religious treatise  "The Teachings of Zoroaster and the Philosophy of the Parsi Religion", in which the author Shapurji Aspaniarji Kapadia describes Ardeshir as his friend.  The address given for the publication in an Editorial Note is:- Orient Press, 4 Harcourt Buildings, Inner Temple, London; the address of Ardeshirs Chambers (1905-1906).

(ii): Shapurji Aspaniarji Kapadia (1857-1941) wrote on Buddhism and Zorastrianism in the early 20th century. His work on Zorastrianism is now a classic, has been reprinted many times, most recently in 2012 and is also available in Kindle Edition. *He qualified initially as a doctor of medicine and subsequently, at the age of 30, was admitted to the Inns of Court where he qualified as a Barrister, working in the same field as Ardeshir - Indian Appeals, Privy Council. He was the founder of the 'Orient Library' and 'Wisdom of the East' series and Lecturer at University College, London - also born in Bombay. There is a portrait of him in the National Portrait Gallery - follow link below

(ii): *Source - Alan Stuart-Tilley - Alan's Genealogy Blog-Labels Archive:Kapadia

(iii):In early May, 2016, Julia Bray found an article written by Councillor Varinda Singh Bola (, which provides additional information about Ardeshir's work as an Ilford Councillor. His obituary,in the Ilford Recorder, also provides details of the cause of death, preparation of his remains and the date and venue for his cremation.

Ilford's First BME Councillor

A copy of his obituary in the Ilford recorder can be found here: Obituary in Ilford Recorder

Recently published in paperback:


By Shapurji Aspaniarji Kapadia

Published by Forgotten Books




by Alison Rattle & Allison Vale

Published by Andre Deutsh

ISBN 978 0 233 00316 0



Link to the Amelia Dyer Case