Justices Part 2

  • LURTON, HORACE H., elected 1886; elected chief justice January 17, 1893 (vice Peter Turney); resigned 1893 to accept appointment as U.S. circuit judge of Sixth Circuit; appointed associate justice of U.S. Supreme Court December 20, 1909, and served until death; born in Newport, Kentucky, February 26, 1844; died July 12, 1914; sergeant major in Confederate Army; chancellor of Clarksville District, 1875-78; dean of Law School, Vanderbilt University, 1905-10; memorials, 130 Tenn. 717, 237 U.S.:V.
  • MCALISTER, WILLIAM K., appointed April 1, 1893, to fill vacancy occasioned by resignation of Horace H. Lurton; elected 1894, 1902; served until 1910; born at Nashville, July 4, 1850; died May 16, 1923; city attorney of Nashville, 1875-83; served as circuit judge of Seventh Circuit, 1886-93; law professor at Vanderbilt University from 1910 until death; memorial, 169 Tenn. 707.
  • MCCANLESS, GEORGE F., appointed by the governor to fill vacancy on the Supreme Court occasioned by the resignation of Hamilton S. Burnett, chief justice, effective September 1, 1969; elected to unexpired term August 6, 1970; born in Morristown, Tennessee, June 8, 1904; died June 4, 1992; B.A., Vanderbilt University, 1926, LL.B., 1928; admitted to the bar in 1928; practiced law in Morristown; city attorney, 1933-37; chancellor, Thirteenth Chancery Division, 1937-38; commissioner of Finance and Taxation, 1939-46; appointed attorney general and reporter by the Supreme Court September 23; reelected to full term in 1958; again in 1966; memorial, 875 S.W.2D. XXXIII
  • MCCLAIN, ANDREW, appointed 1869; served one and a half years; born in Smith County, Tennessee, April 16, 1826; died January 21, 1913; appointed judge of Sixth Circuit, July 16, 1864; served until 1869; appointed U.S. district attorney for Middle Tennessee by President Chester A. Arthur.
  • MCFARLAND, ROBERT, appointed December 1871 (vice T. A. R. Nelson); elected 1872, 1878; resigned because of poor health 1882; born in Smith County, Tennessee, April 15, 1832; died October 2, 1884; major in Confederate Army; memorial, 81 Tenn. 737.
  • MCKINNEY, ROBERT J., elected 1847; served until 1861; member of first Court elected by popular vote, May 25, 1854; born in Ireland, February 1, 1803; died October 9, 1875; member of Constitutional Convention of 1834; member of Peace Commission to Washington, 1861. , elected 1918, 1926, 1934; retired 1942; born at Ripley, Tennessee, May 23, 1873; died April 29, 1944; chancellor of Ninth Division, 1910-18; memorial and portrait, 180 Tenn. 724.
  • MCNAIRY, JOHN, appointed territorial judge by President George Washington, 1790; served until 1796; appointed judge of Superior Court of Tennessee, 1796; served until 1797; born Guilford County, North Carolina, 1762; died November 10, 1837; member of Superior Court of North Carolina prior to 1790; represented Davidson County in Constitutional Convention of 1796; appointed U.S. district judge May 1797; served until 1834; McNairy County named for him.
  • MAYNARD, HORACE, appointed by Governor W. G. Brownlow (vice Samuel Milligan); was member of Congress at time of appointment and his right to office was challenged; see Calloway v. Strum, 48 Tennessee (1 Heiskell), 764; born in Massachusetts August 30, 1814; died May 3, 1882; member of Congress, 1857-63, 1865-75; attorney general of Tennessee, 1863-65; unsuccessful candidate for governor, 1874; U.S. minister to Turkey, 1875-80; U.S. postmaster general, 1880-81.
  • MILLIGAN, SAMUEL, appointed 1864; resigned and reappointed March 21, 1867; served until 1868; born in Greene County, Tennessee, November 16, 1814; died April 20, 1874; representative from Greene and Washington Counties in state legislature, 1841; representative from Greene County, 1843, 1845; major in U.S. Army in Mexican War, 1847; judge of Court of Claims at Washington, 1868; memorial, 53 Tenn. 647.
  • NEIL, A. B., appointed March 9, 1942, to succeed W. L. Cook, deceased; elected 1942, 1950 and 1958; elected chief justice October 6, 1947, following the death of Chief Justice Chambliss; retired February 1, 1960; born Marshall County, Tennessee, February 28, 1873; died June 26, 1966; representative in Tennessee legislature 1899; judge of Davidson County Criminal Court, 1910-18; judge of Davidson County Circuit Court, 1918-42; dean of Law School, Cumberland University, 1935-40; professor of law, 1930-40; memorial and portrait, 218 Tenn. 702.
  • NEIL, MATTHEW M., elected 1902, 1910; elected chief justice February 17, 1913; served until 1918; born in Fayetteville, Tennessee, 1849; died June 23, 1925; judge of Court of Chancery Appeals, 1895-1902; memorial and portrait, 152 Tenn. 712.
  • NELSON, THOMAS A. R., elected 1870; resigned December 1871; born Roane County, Tennessee, March 19, 1812; died August 24, 1873; served as attorney general for First Circuit for two terms beginning 1833; judge of Knox County Criminal Court, 1844; declined appointment as commissioner to China 1851; member of Congress, 1859-61; counsel for President Andrew Johnson in impeachment trial before U.S. Senate; memorial, 53 Tenn. 653.
  • NICHOLSON, ALFRED O. P., elected 1870, served until death; named chief justice 1870; born in Williamson County, Tennessee, August 31, 1808; died March 23, 1876; he and Robert L. Caruthers compiled Statutes of Tennessee, 1836; Maury County representative in state legislature, 1833, 1835, 1837; member of state senate, 1843; appointed to U.S. Senate, 1840, elected 1859; appointed chancellor of Nashville Division in 1851 but resigned at end of year; declined appointment as U.S. postmaster general during administration of President Franklin Pierce; member of Constitutional Convention, 1870; memorials and portrait, 56 Tenn. 883; 113 Tenn. 734.
  • O'BRIEN, CHARLES H., appointed to Tennessee Supreme Court in 1987 by Governor Ned McWherter; elected to remainder of unexpired term August 4, 1988; reelected 1990 for eight-year term; retired 1994; born July 30, 1920, Orange, New Jersey; died September 18, 2007; served in infantry during World War II; Korean War, G.H.Q. United Nations Command, Tokyo, Japan; LL.B., Cumberland Law School, 1947; law practice in Memphis, 1948-67; law practice in Crossville, 1967-70; member of 83rd and 84th Tennessee General Assemblies; elected to Court of Criminal Appeals, 1970; reelected 1974 and 1982;.
  • OVERTON, JOHN, member of Superior Court (vice Andrew Jackson), 1804-10; elected judge of Court of Errors and Appeals, 1811; resigned April 11, 1816; born in Louisa County, Virginia, April 9, 1766; died April 12, 1833; commissioned Supervisor of Revenue at Nashville by President Washington; made original plan laying off City of Memphis, as co-proprietor with Andrew Jackson and General James Winchester; compiled volumes 1 and 2 of Tennessee Reports ; most intimate lifelong friend of Andrew Jackson; instigated movement to elect Jackson president; selected to preside over first Democratic National Convention at Baltimore, May 21-23, 1832, but was prevented from doing so by illness; Overton County named for him.
  • PECK, JACOB, elected 1822 (vice Emmerson); served until new Court created by Constitution of 1834; born in Virginia, 1779; died June 11, 1869; state senator from Greene and Jefferson Counties, 1821; compiled volume 7 of Tennessee Reports ; memorial, 46 Tenn. 657.
  • POWELL, SAMUEL, elected 1807; served until 1809; born in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, July 10, 1776; died August 2, 1841; judge of First Circuit, 1812-13, 1819-41; member of Congress, 1815-17.
  • PREWITT, ALAN M., special judge of Supreme Court, 1937 and April 1941-March 1942; elected to succeed C. P. McKinney, who retired September 1, 1942; elected 1942, 1950, and 1958; elected chief justice February 1, 1960, following retirement of Chief Justice A. B. Neil; born Grand Junction, Tennessee, February 1, 1893; died February 17, 1863; combat duty overseas in World War I; special judge, Court of Appeals, 1934; memorial and portrait, 210 Tenn. 712.
  • REESE, WILLIAM B., elected December 4, 1835, served until retirement, October 1, 1847; born in Jefferson County, Tennessee, November 19, 1793; died July 7, 1859; first native Tennessean to serve on Supreme Bench; chancellor of Eastern Division, 1831 (succeeding Nathan Greene), until election to Supreme Court; unsuccessful candidate for U.S. Senate, 1847, defeated by John Bell, president of East Tennessee University (now University of Tennessee) from 1851 until shortly before death; memorial, 39 Tenn. 714.
  • REID, LYLE, elected to Tennessee Supreme Court, August 1990; chief justice, 1990-94; retired March 1, 1998; born June 17, 1930, Tennessee; B.S., 1954, J.D., 1956, University of Tennessee, Knoxville; Tennessee House of Representatives, 1967-68; U.S. Air Force, 1949-52; law clerk to Chancellor John Gray, 1957-60; General Sessions judge, 1960; assistant attorney general, 1961-63; private law practice in Brownsville, 1963-86; Haywood County attorney, 1964-86; deputy commissioner of Department of Commerce and Insurance, 1987; appointed to the Court of Criminal Appeals, 1987; elected 1988.
  • ROANE, ARCHIBALD, member of first Court elected under Constitution of 1796; resigned 1801; was added to Court October 21, 1815, and served until death; born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, 1759; died January 4, 1819; second governor of Tennessee, 1801-3; attorney general for Hamilton District, 1778; member of Constitutional Convention, 1796; member of state senate from Knox County, 1811; soldier in Revolutionary War; present at surrender of Cornwallis; judge of Second Circuit, 1811-15; Roane County named for him.
  • SHACKLEFORD, JAMES O., appointed August 24, 1865; chancellor of Nashville Division, February 28, 1868, to December 16, 1868.
  • SHIELDS, JOHN KNIGHT, elected 1902, 1910; elected chief justice 1910; resigned February 12, 1913, upon election to U.S. Senate, January 23, 1913; member of U.S. Senate, 1913 to 1924; born in Grainger County, Tennessee, August 15, 1858; died September 30, 1934; chancellor of Twelfth Division, 1892-94.
  • SMITH, HENRY G., appointed 1867; served until 1870; state senator, 1877; born in Connecticut, 1807; died December 31, 1878; memorial, 70 Tenn. 751.
  • SNEED, JOHN L . T., elected 1870; failed renomination 1878; born in Raleigh, North Carolina, 1820; died June 29, 1901; captain of Volunteers in Mexican War, soldier in Confederate Army; Shelby County representative in state legislature, 1845; district attorney general, Memphis, 1851-54; attorney general of Tennessee, 1854-59; compiled volumes 33-37 of Tennessee Reports; brigadier general in Confederate Army; judge of Court of Arbitration, 1878-83; member of Commission of Referees, 1883; unsuccessful candidate for U.S. Senate, 1887; chancellor at Memphis, succeeding Judge William D. Beard, 1894.
  • SNODGRASS, DAVID L ., elected 1886, 1894; served as chief justice, 1894-1902; born in Sparta, Tennessee, April 6, 1851; died October 11, 1917; White County representative in state legislature, 1879; member of Commission of Referees, 1883-85; unsuccessful candidate for U.S. Senate, 1900; memorial and portrait, 138 Tenn. App. 7.
  • SWEPSTON, JOHN E ., appointed April 12, 1954, to succeed Frank H. Gailor, who died April 8, 1954; elected 1954 and 1958; retired September 15, 1961; born Crawfordsville, Arkansas, August 9, 1894; died October 24, 1961; served in U.S. Navy during World War I; chancellor, Shelby County, 1935-47; judge, Court of Appeals, 1947-54; memorial and portrait, 208 Tenn. 710.
  • SWIGGART, WILLIAM H., elected 1926, 1934; resigned 1934, to accept position as general counsel of North Carolina and St. Louis Railway; born in Union City, Tennessee, October 12, 1888; died October 30, 1966; assistant state attorney general, 1914-26; trustee, Vanderbilt University; memorial and portrait, 221 Tenn. 748.
  • TATUM, HOWELL, appointed 1797; resigned 1798; soldier in Revolutionary War and topographical engineer in War of 1812; attorney general of Metro District, 1796-97; treasurer of Metro District, 1794-96; died in the fall of 1822.
  • TOMLINSON, PRIDE, appointed February 1, 1947, to succeed Grafton Green, who died January 27, 1947; elected 1948, 1950 and 1958; retired July 31, 1961; born in Maury County, Tennessee, July 16, 1890; died November 27, 1967; Maury County attorney, 1921-47; special judge, Supreme Court, January- March 1946; chairman, Tennessee Code Commission, 1945- February 1947; president Judicial Conference, 1950-51; memorial and portrait, 220 Tenn. 738.
  • TOTTEN, ARCHIBALD W. O., elected February 28, 1850 (vice William B. Turley); resigned July 17, 1855; born in Overton County, Tennessee, November 25, 1809; died 1867; member of first Court elected by popular vote, May 25, 1854; member of Peace Congress at Washington, 1861; memorials, 43 Tenn. 605, 44 Tenn. 649.
  • TURLEY, WILLIAM B., elected December 4, 1835; reelected 1847; resigned 1850; born in Alexandria, Virginia, 1800; died May 27, 1851; judge of Eleventh Circuit, 1829-35; judge of Common Law and Chancery Court at Memphis, 1850 until death; memorial, 30 Tenn. 421; memorial and portrait, 134 Tenn. III.
  • TURNEY, PETER, elected 1870, 1878, 1886; elected chief justice, 1886; resigned after being elected governor of Tennessee, 1893; born in Jasper, Tennessee, September 27, 1827; died October 28, 1903; governor of Tennessee, 1893 to 1897; colonel in Confederate Army; memorial, 111 Tenn. 747.
  • WADE, GARY R., appointed to the Tennessee Supreme Court May 30, 2006; born May 31, 1948, Knox County, Tennessee; B.S. University of Tennessee, 1970; J. D. University of Tennessee College of Law, 1973; private practice of law 1973-87; appointed to Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals, 1987; elected 1988; reelected 1990 and 1998.
  • WHITE, HUGH LAWSON, elected 1801, resigned 1807; reappointed 1809; served until 1814; declined reappointment, 1824; born in Iredell County, North Carolina, October 30, 1773; died April 10, 1840; member of state senate, 1807-9, 1817-25; U.S. district attorney, 1808; member of U.S. Senate, 1825-40; unsuccessful candidate for president of the United States, 1836.
  • WHITE, PENNY J., appointed to Tennessee Supreme Court 1994, served until November 1996, when she did not receive a majority in a retention election; born May 3, 1956, Kingsport, Tennessee; B.S., East Tennessee State University, 1978; J.D., University of Tennessee College of Law, 1981; LL.M., Georgetown University Law Center, 1985; elected Circuit Court judge, First Judicial District, 1990-92; appointed to Court of Criminal Appeals 1992.; adjunct professor of law at the University of Tennessee College of Law 1987-97, returned in 2000; visiting professor at Washington and Lee University, West Virginia University, and Denver University, 1997-2000.
  • WHITE, WELDON B., appointed August 1, 1961 to succeed Pride Tomlinson, who retired July 31, 1961; born in Waxahachie, Texas, July 22, 1907; died April 23, 1967; state senator, Davidson County, 1942-47; professor of law, Cumberland University, 1946-50; major, U.S. Army, World War II; memorial, 218 Tenn. 708, 445 S.W.2d 1.
  • WHYTE, ROBERT, appointed May 1816; served until 1834; born in Scotland, January 6, 1787; died November 12, 1844; professor, William & Mary College.
  • WILKES, JOHN SUMMERFIELD, appointed January 16, 1893 (vice Peter Turney); elected 1894, 1902, served until 1908; born in Maury County, Tennessee, March 2, 1841; died February 2, 1908; captain and purchasing commissary in Confederate Army; state adjunct general, 1875; memorial and portrait, 119 Tenn. 745.
  • WILLIAMS, SAMUEL COLE, appointed 1913 (vice John K. Shields); elected 1914; served until 1918; born in Gibson County, Tennessee, January 15, 1864; died December 14, 1947; appointed special chancellor, First Division, 1912; first dean of Lamar School of Law, Emory University, 1919-26; a founder of American Law Institute; chairman of Code Commission to compile 1932 Code of Tennessee, 1923-33; compiler of Williams Annotated Tennessee Code of 1934, 8 volumes; author of ten volumes on the History of Tennessee and of the South.
  • WILLIAMS, THOMAS L., appointed 1826 (vice Hugh L. White), but next legislature declined to fill vacancy; born in North Carolina, 1788; died December 2, 1856; chancellor for East Tennessee, 1836-54; member of state senate from Knox County, 1819, 1821, 1823; memorial, 36 Tenn. 709.
  • WRIGHT, ARCHIBALD, appointed June 19, 1858 (vice Wm. R. Harris); elected 1858; born in Maury County, Tennessee, November 29, 1809; died September 13, 1885; Giles County representative in state legislature, 1847; memorial, 82 Tenn. 723.

The above biographical sketches of the justices of the Court were originally prepared by Barbara Holton of the offices of Gullett, Sanford, Robinson & Martin, PLLC, Nashville Tennessee. The material with respect to the justices prior to 1960 was taken from 176. Tenn. 869 (1941) as supplemented in 209 Tenn. 827 (1962). The list has been updated through 2014, with information on more recent Justices obtained from the Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts.

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