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JUDGES OF THE SUPREME COURT, CIRCUIT JUDGES, CHANCELLORS, AND ATTORNEYS-GENERAL OF MISSISSIPPI, SINCE THE ORGANIZATION OF THE STATE GOVERNMENT UP TO 1881


Under the first Constitution of Mississippi, adopted in 1817, the Supreme Court was held semi-annually by the Circuit Judges sitting in bank at the capital of the State. The Judges during that period, 1817-1832, and the years in which they were respectively appointed, were as follows:

John P. Hampton, C.J.;
W. B. Shields, John Taylor, Powhatan Ellis, Joshua G. Clarke, 1818;
Walter Leake, 1820;
Livingston B. Metcalf, 1821;
Richard Stockton, 1822;
Edward Turner, C. J., 1824;
J. Caldwell, 1825;
John Black, George Winchester, 1826;
William B. Griffith, Harry Cage, 1827;
Isaac R. Nicholson, 1828;
William L. Sharkey, 1831.

Judges of the High Court of Errors and Appeals elected by the people under the Constitution of 1832:

William L. Sharkey, C.J.;
Daniel Wright, Cotesworth P. Smith, 1833;
P. Rutilius R. Pray, 1837;
James F. Trotter, 1839;
Cotesworth P. Smith, Edward Turner, 1840;
Alexander M. Clayton, Reuben Davis, 1842;
Joseph S. B. Thacher, 1843;
A. M. Clayton, 1845;
W. L. Sharkey, C.J.;
J. S. B. Thacher, 1847;
William Yerger, Collin S. Tarpley, 1851;
Cotesworth P. Smith, C.J.;
Ephraim S. Fisher, Alexander H. Handy, 1855;
William L. Harris, 1859;
Alexander H. Handy, C.J.;
B. W. Hurst, William L. Harris, Henry T. Ellett, 1863.

Judges of the Supreme Court appointed by the Governor under the Constitution of 1868:

Thomas Shackleford, C.J.;
Ephraim G. Peyton, E. Jeffords, 1868; Ephraim G. Peyton, C.J.;
Horatio F. Simrall, Jonathan Tarbell, 1870;
Horatio Simrall, C.J.;
H. H. Chalmers, J. A. P. Campbell, 1876;
J. Z. George, C.J., 1879.

Judge George was elected to the United States Senate by the Legislature of 1880, but retains his position upon the bench, which, it is understood, he will not resign until he takes his seat in the Senate on the 4th of March, 1881. Judge Chalmers will then be Chief Justice by "virtue of his seniority in office.

Judges of the Superior Court of Chancery, 1821-1857:

Joshua G. Clarke, 1821;
John A. Quitman, 1828;
Edward Turner, 1835;
Robert H. Buckner, 1839;
Stephen Cocke, 1846;
Charles Scott, 1853.

Vice-Chancellors:

Joseph W. Chalmers, appointed for the Northern District, established in 1842;
succeeded by Henry Dickenson, elected in 1843;
James M. Smiley, elected for the Southern District, established in 1846;
George W. Doharty for the Northern District, 1850;
B. C. Buckley for the Southern District, 1853.

The Chancery Courts were abolished in 1857, and their jurisdiction conferred upon the Circuit Judges.

Judges of the Circuit Courts, elected under the Constitution of 1832:

T. A. Willis, A. M. Keegan, James F. Trotter, Alexander Montgomery, E. C. Wilkinson, 1833;
T. B. Stirling, J. Scott, 1834;
J. Walker, R. Hughes, G. Irish, 1835;
James M. Maury, 1836;
R. S. G. Perkins, Caswell R. Clifton, Buckner C. Harris, D. O. Shattuck, G. Coalter, T. S. Stirling, 1837;
H. S. Bennett, Isaac R. Nicholson, J. A. Marshall, 1838;
V. T. Crawford, F. W. Huling, J. Battaille, 1840;
Franklin E. Plummer, G. Coalter, C. C. Cage, Albert G. Brown, J. H. Rollins, M. L. Fitch, S. Adams, H. S. Bennett, V. T. Crawford, B. F. Coruthers, H. Mounger, James M. Howry, 1841;
T. A. Willis, 1843;
Stanhope Posey, T. A. Willis, G. Coalter, A. B. Dawson, R. C. Perry, F. M. Rogers, H. R. Miller, 1845;
Wiley P. Harris, 1847;
Stanhope Posey, William S. Bodley, J. E. McNair, Jacob S. Yerger, John Walter, E. G. Henry, William L. Harris, P. D. Scruggs, William M. Hancock, Joel M. Acker, William Cothran, 1847-1860;
Hiram Cassidy, H. W. Foote, J. E. McNair, J. A. P. Campbell, J. S. Hamm, J. W. Thompson, 1860-1868.

Appointed by the Governor under the Constitution of 1868:

Green C. Chandler, James M. Smiley, A. Alderson, W. H. Hancock, Uriah Millsaps, Robert Leachman, J. A. Orr, W. D. Bradford, B. B. Boone, Orlando Davis, C. C. Shackleford, E. S. Fisher, Jason Niles, W. B. Cunningham, George D. Brown.

The districts having been changed is the cause of their omission up to this period. The following Judges were appointed in 1876, and are yet on the bench, except Judge Cothran, who has lately died:

1st District, J. A. Green.
2d     "      J. W. C. Watson.
3d      "      Samuel Powell.
4th     "      B. F. Trimble.
5th     "      W. M. Cothran.
6th     "      J. M. Arnold.
7th     "      J. S. Hamm.
8th     "      A. G. Mayers.
9th     "      S. S. Calhoun.
10th     "      J. B. Chrisman.
11th, Special Statutory District, embracing only Warren County, U. M. Young.
12th, Special Statutory District, comprising only Adams County, Ralph North.

District Chancellors appointed by the Governor under the Chancery Court Act of 1871:

1st District, William G. Henderson.
2d     "      G. S. McMillan.
3d     "      Wesley Drane.
4th      "      Thomas Christian.
5th      "      Theodric Lyon.
6th      "      O. H. Whitfield.
7th      "      Austin Pollard.
8th      "      A. E. Reynolds.
9th      "      De Witt Stearns.
10th      "      J. F. Simmons.
11th      "      Dallas P. Colley.
12th      "      J. J. Hooker.
13th      "      Samuel Young.
14th      "      Edward Hill.
15th      "      E. Stafford.
16th      "      E. W. Cabinniss.
17th      "      G. R. Gowen.
18th      "      D. N. Walker.
19th      "      J. W. Ellis.
20th      "      E. G. Peyton, Jr.

J. J. Hooker died in 1873, and W. A. Drennan was appointed to fill the unexpired term; but he was removed by Governor Ames for refusing bail to one Morgan, who had murdered his competitor for the office of sheriff of Yazoo County. D. N. Walker died also in 1873, and J. R. Goltury was appointed to fill his term.

Appointed by Governor Ames in 1875:

1st District, William G. Henderson.
2d      "      G. S. McMillan.
3d      "      R. Boyd.
4th      "      J. J. Dennis.
5th      "      C. A. Sullivan.
6th      "      0. H. Whitfield.
7th      "      William D. Frazee.
8th      "      C. C. Cullins.
9th      "      L. C. Abbott.
10th      "      J. N. Campbell.
11th      "      P. P. Bailey.
12th      "      Thomas Walton.
13th      "      William Beck.
14th      "      E. Hill.
15th      "      E. Stafford.
16th      "      H. R. Ware.
17th      "      R. B. Stone.
18th      "      E. H. Osgood.
19th      "      Hiram Cassidy.
20th      "      E. G. Peyton.

Upon the accession of the Democratic party to power in 1876, the number of these chancellors was reduced from 20 to 12, and the persons appointed were as follows:

1st District, L. Haughton.
2d      "      A. B. Fly.
3d      "      J. B. Morgan.
4th      "      W. G. Phelps.
5th      "      R. W. Williamson.
6th      "      L. Brame.
7th      "      George Wood.
8th      "      T. B. Graham.
9th      "      E. G. Peyton.
10th      "      T. Y. Berry.
11th, Special Statutory District, comprising only Warren County, U. M. Young.
12th, Special Statutory District, comprising only Adams County, Ralph North.

I omitted to state that J. C. Gray was appointed Chancellor of the 3d, and Chas. Clark of the 4th District, in 1876. They died in 1878, and were succeeded by J. B. Morgan and W. G. Phelps respectively. Also, that the initials of Chancellor Graham are T. B.*, instead of G. B., and those of Chancellor Berry, T. Y.*, instead of G. G. Also, that Chancellor Brame declined a re-appointment in 1880; and that H. S. Van Eaton succeeded Chancellor Berry, I will add, in this connection, that my remarks in reference to the efficiency of the Chancellors, were intended to apply only to some of those in office prior to 1876. I had no intention to reflect in the least on those in office since, inasmuch as it is well understood that since 1876, those officers have been noted for their ability, integrity and high judicial virtues. I make this statement because some of my friends have suggested that my remarks in this respect might be misconstrued.

All of these were reappointed in 1880, except L. Brame, who was succeeded by Frank A. Critz. T. Y. Berry has also been superseded by some one.

In consequence of the appointment of some perhaps totally incompetent persons to this bench, and some whose characters for honesty were impeachable, these courts have not enjoyed fully the confidence and respect due to their functions, nor the popularity deserved by their organic efficiency. But it is to be hoped that amid such ample and capable material, many young Eldons, Hardwickes, Kents, and Buckners may yet assert themselves in Mississippi, and raise these courts to a standard of eminence equalled only by their importance.

Attorneys-General of Mississippi since the organization of the State Government:

Lyman Harding, 1818;
Edward Turner, 1820;
Thomas B. Reed, 1821;
Richard Stockton, 1825;
George Adams, 1827;
Richard M. Gains, 1830;
M. D. Patten, 1834;
Thomas F. Collins, 1837;
John D. Freeman, 1841, re-elected in 1845;
D. C. Glenn, 1850, re-elected in 1854;
Thomas J. Wharton, 1858;
Charles E. Hooker, 1866;
Joshua Morris, 1869;
J. E. Harris, 1873;
Thomas C. Catchings, 1875.

The position of the last-named gentleman challenges observation. His career is laden with peculiar responsibility. The time of his election, his youth, and his talents, constitute him in some way a representative and leader of the young bar of the State, and his masterly course as Attorney-General has proudly merited the relation.


Source: The Bench and Bar of Mississippi by James D. Lynch, New York: E. J. Hale and Son, Publishers,
17 Murray Street, 1881


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