Obituary: Michael Wheeler

Michael Mortimer Wheeler, lawyer, born 8 January 1915, called to the Bar Gray's Inn 1938, Lincoln's Inn 1946, QC 1961, Bencher of Lincoln's Inn 1967, Treasurer of Lincoln's Inn 1986, married 1939 Sheila Mayou (two daughters), died 7 August 1992.

MICHAEL WHEELER's first greeting to his friends showed immediately his feelings for them: the more personal and direct it was the greater the respect and the more he liked you. The only son of the mercurial archaeologist Sir Mortimer Wheeler, he inherited from him much of his iconoclastic irreverence for pomposity and bureaucracy. But as a Deputy High Court Judge for 15 years his judgement and the respect in which he was held totally belied this outwardly superficial attitude.

Michael Wheeler was born in 1915. He was educated at the Dragon School, Oxford, and Rugby, before reading law at Christ Church, Oxford. After a short spell in a solicitors' office, he was called to the Bar by Gray's Inn in 1938. A year later Wheeler, who had joined the Territorial Army, helped his father to raise at Enfield the 48th Light Anti-Aircraft Battery. Early recruits included Lord Goodman, with whom Wheeler later had a long and happy professional association at the Bar, and Lord Lloyd. His father seems to have thought that the battery was some kind of independent feudal levy, because he commissioned Wheeler as a second lieutenant, an act which the War Office confirmed.

Wheeler commanded a regiment in Italy in the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel and was mentioned in dispatches. On his return to the Bar in 1946, he was appointed a member of the UK mission to sell Argentine Railways to Argentina to pay for bully beef supplied in the war. On his return he entered into practice in company law in Lincoln's Inn, having joined that Inn in 1946. He continued in practice until he retired from the Bar in 1988. He sat regularly for many years as a respected Deputy High Court Judge. A coronary in 1972, the first of many health problems, blighted his chances of appointment to the Bench.

Wheeler took silk in 1961. He was elected a Bencher of Lincoln's Inn in 1967 and became Treasurer in 1986. In that year the new Bar Council and Inns of Court Council were formed. Wheeler was heavily involved in negotiating the terms and drafting the constitutions, particularly to regulate relations between the new bodies and the Inns.

He was a keen sportsman, playing both golf and cricket for the Bar. His Chambers was one of the first to abolish the rule that a pupil at the Bar paid his master a fee. But when Keighley, who played for Yorkshire, came as a pupil, the fee was a course of lessons at Alf Gover's cricket school. Wheeler's ambition was that the Bar should beat the Barrister's Clerks in the annual match then held at the Oval, an ambition seldom achieved.

He was a loyal member of Chambers throughout his time at the Bar, supported by his wife, Sheila, a successful orthoptist, and was the head of a very happy chambers.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company provides global satellite communi...

Austen Lloyd: Practice / HR Manager - Somerset

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A rare and exciting opportunity for a Practice...

Ashdown Group: HR Executive

£20000 - £23000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: An exciting opportunity...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£150 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: A mainstream Secondary school in C...

Day In a Page

A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms
Chinese web dissenters using coded language to dodge censorship filters and vent frustration at government

Are you a 50-center?

Decoding the Chinese web dissenters
The Beatles film Help, released 50 years ago, signalled the birth of the 'metrosexual' man

Help signalled birth of 'metrosexual' man

The Beatles' moptop haircuts and dandified fashion introduced a new style for the modern Englishman, says Martin King
Hollywood's new diet: Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?

Hollywood's new diet trends

Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?
6 best recipe files

6 best recipe files

Get organised like a Bake Off champion and put all your show-stopping recipes in one place
Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Atwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade