This article uses a biography of Lord Walter George Frank Phillimore, a prominent high churchman and judge in the later nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, to explore the ability of legal biography to disrupt settled or uncritical readings of his comments on the nature of an established church in the case of Marshall v Graham (1907). In so doing it highlights the impact of the nineteenth century’s legal and constitutional reforms upon high churchmen and lawyers such as Phillimore and examines the impact of his churchmanship upon his personal and professional life.