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Reuben Hyde Walworth

Appleton's & Klos Biographies - A Stan Klos Company

WALWORTH, Reuben Hyde, jurist and the last of the chancellors of New York state, born in Bozrah, Connecticut, 26 October, 1788 ; died in Saratoga Springs, New York, 27 November, 1867. He was the third son of Benjamin Walworth, who in the early part of the Revolutionary war was quartermaster of Colonel Nicholl's New York regiment, and acted as adjutant at the battle of White Plains. The family was originally of London, England, the American branch descending from William Walworth, who emigrated from that city in 1671 and settled on Fisher's island, and afterward in New London, Connecticut His father removed to Hoosick, New York, during the son's early childhood, where the latter acquired the mere rudiments of an education by great industry, and at the age of sixteen taught in a school. At seventeen he began the study of law at Troy, New York, and in 1809 he was admitted to the bar.

 

In January, 1810, he settled at Plattsburgh, New York, where he speedily rose to eminence in his profession, and in 1811 he was appointed a master in chancery, and one of the county judges. At the invasion of Plattsburgh by the British army in September, 1814, Mr. Walworth, who since 1812 had held the post of adjutant-general of the New York militia, was aide to General Benjamin Mooers, and witnessed Commander McDonough's battle and victory on the lake, having been deputed to watch the contest from the shore and report the result to his chief. He was a member of congress in 1821-'3, and in April of the latter year was appointed judge of' the 4th judicial district of New York state, which office he held for five years.

 

In October of the same year he removed to Saratoga Springs. He presided in his circuit until 1828, when he was appointed chancellor of the state of New York. This office he held for twenty years, when the new constitution of 1848 abolished the court of chancery. In 1828 he removed to Albany, but in the spring of 1833 he returned to Saratoga Springs and to his residence at Pine Grove, where he remained until his death.

 

Pine Grove (seen in the accompanying illustration) was for many years a much-frequented place, few residences in the land seeing more of the great celebrities of the country, especially jurists and statesmen, among them De Witt Clinton, Martin Van Buren, Silas Wright, Daniel D. Tompkins, William L. Marcy, Francis Granger, William H. Seward, Stephen A. Douglas, Millard Fillmore, James Buchanan, Chancellor Kent, Judge Story, Washington Irving, Fenimore Cooper, and General Winfield Scott.

 

Chancellor Walworth may justly be regarded as the great artisan of our equity laws. In some sense he was the Bentham of America, without the bold speculations and fantastical theories which, to a certain extent, characterized the great British jurist. What Bentham did in removing defects in English jurisprudence Walworth did in renovating and simplifying the equity laws of the United States. Justice Story pronounced him " the greatest equity jurist living."

 

Before his day the court of chancery in New York state was a tribunal of ill-defined powers and uncertain jurisdiction, in a measure subservient to the English court of chancery in its procedure. Chancellor Walworth abolished much of that subtlety, many of those prolix and bewildering formalities which had their origin in the middle ages. He reduced the practice of his court to standard rules, which he prepared with great industry. These rules greatly improved the old system of equity practice, and though he has been charged with thus complicating the court of chancery with expensive machinery, it cannot be gainsaid that with Chancellor Walworth equity was the soul and spirit of law, "creating positive and defining rational law, flexible in its nature, and suited to the fortunes, cases, and reciprocal obligations of men."

 

The contents of fourteen volumes of Paige and Barbour's "Chancery Reports," containing the adjudications in his own court, and a large part of the matter of the thirty-eight volumes of Wendell, Hill, and Denio's "Reports," consisting of the opinions he pronounced in the court of errors, attest his vast judicial labors. All widows and orphans in the state were wards of the court of chancery. The chancellor construed this tutelage in the most simple sense and acted accordingly. His wards had easy access to him without any formalities of red tape. He listened to their stories patiently, instituted inquiries after his own fashion, and often made some prompt order in their favor upon such informal application. Chancellor Walworth was of such a genial, winning manner that whoever came in contact with him was at once placed at ease.

 

He was also very benevolent, and was constantly looking about him for some deserving object upon whom to exercise his kindness. He was for many years an elder in the Presbyterian church, and took it upon himself to care especially for the poor of the congregation. He was an early and stanch friend of temperance, and for a long period was president of the American temperance union. He was also vice-president of the Bible society and the Tract society. Princeton gave him the degree of LL.D. in 1835. He was the author of "Rules and Orders of the New York Court of Chancery" (Albany, 1829; several revised eds.), and " Hyde Genealogy" (2 vols., 1864).

 

--His son, Clarence Alphonsus Walworth, author, born in Plattsburg, New York, 30 May, 1820, was graduated at Union college in 1838, and studied law, first at Canandaigua, New York, and afterward at Albany. He was admitted to the bar in July, 1841, and practiced one year at Rochester. Afterward he was a student at the General theological seminary of the Protestant Episcopal church. New York city, for three years, and then, uniting with the Roman Catholic church, went to Belgium, spending three years with the Redemptionists, and at the College of Wittemberg, where he was ordained priest. He was then sent to England, taking charge, while there, of a new church at Upton on Severn, and acting as a missionary in London, Liverpool, and Manchester. He returned in March, 1850, and was a traveling missionary throughout the United States for fifteen years. He was also one of the five founders of the order of Paulists in the United States. (See HECKER, ISAAC T.) In 1864 his health compelled him to relinquish his work as a missionary and return to his home at Saratoga Springs, and he was afterward made rector of St. Mary's parish, Albany, New York, in which post he has since remained. Father Walworth has ever been an advocate of the cause of temperance, and has for several years been vice-president of the Law and order league of the state of New York. He is the author of "The Gentle Skeptic," a work on the authorship and inspiration of the Old Testament (New York, 1860); "The Doctrine of Hell, ventilated in a Discussion between Reverend C. A. Walworth and William H. Burr, Esq." (1874); and "Andiatarocte, or the Eve of Lady Day on Lake George, and other Poems, Hymns, and Meditations in Verse" (1888). He has also contributed to "Brownson's Review" and to "The Catholic World," and is well known as a lecturer.

 

--Another son, Mansfield Tracy Walworth, novelist, born in Albany, New York, 3 December, 1830; died in New York city, 3 June, 1873, was graduated at Union college in 1849 and at Harvard law-school in 1852, and admitted to the bar in 1855. After practising in Albany with his father for some time, he abandoned his profession for that of literature, began writing for the "Home Journal," and subsequently composed many sensational romances. He was intentionally shot and killed by his son, whose trial for the crime is celebrated in American law annals. The son was acquitted on the ground of mental aberration, and placed in an insane asylum. Mr. Walworth's books, which at one time had a large circulation, include "Mission of Death" (New York, 1853); "Lulu" (1860);" Hotspur" (1861.); " Storm cliff " (1865) ; " Warwick " (1868) ; " Delaphme, or the Sacrifice of Irene" (1872); and "Beverly, or the White Mask" (1873). At the time of his death he was engaged on the "Lives of the Chancellors of New York State," and had just completed a "Life of Chancellor Livingston." After his death two works were published from his manuscripts : "Married in Mask" (1888), and "Tahara, a Leaf from Empire" (1888).

 

--His wife, Ellen Hardin Walworth, author, born in Jacksonville, Illinois, 20 October, 1832, is the daughter of Colonel John J. Hardin, who was killed at Buena Vista. She has been a member of the board of education for three years in Saratoga Springs, and principal, for six years, of a school for young ladies. She is an active trustee of the Saratoga monument association, and through her instrumentality, about twenty spots of historic interest on the battlefields have been recently marked by granite tablets. Mrs. Walworth has published an account of the Burgoyne campaign, with several original maps (New York, 1877), and has contributed to the " Magazine of American History" an account of the battle of Buena. Vista--a chapter of the work on which she is now engaged, "The Life of Colonel John J. Hardin, and a History of the Hardin Family." She has also written several patriotic and other poems, and has ready a volume of essays on literary, artistic, scientific, and educational topics.

 

--Their daughter, Ellen Hardin Walworth, author, born in Saratoga Springs, 2 October, 1858, has published "An Old World, as seen through Young Eyes" (New York, 1875), and has now ready a work entitled "The Lily of the Mohawks, or the Life and Times of Katarie Tegokwithi," the first Iroquois convert to the Christian faith.

 

--Another daughter, Renbena Hyde Walworth, born in Louisville, Kentucky, 21 February, 1867, has published poems in magazines, and is the author of a comediette entitled "Where was Elsie? or the Saratoga Fairies" (New York, 1888).

Edited Appletons Encyclopedia by John Looby, Copyright © 2001 VirtualologyTM

WALWORTH, Reuben Hyde, jurist and the last of the chancellors of New York state, born in Bozrah, Connecticut, 26 October, 1788 ; died in Saratoga Springs, New York, 27 November, 1867. He was the third son of Benjamin Walworth, who in the early part of the Revolutionary war was quartermaster of Colonel Nicholl's New York regiment, and acted as adjutant at the battle of White Plains. The family was originally of London, England, the American branch descending from William Walworth, who emigrated from that city in 1671 and settled on Fisher's island, and afterward in New London, Connecticut His father removed to Hoosick, New York, during the son's early childhood, where the latter acquired the mere rudiments of an education by great industry, and at the age of sixteen taught in a school. At seventeen he began the study of law at Troy, New York, and in 1809 he was admitted to the bar. In January, 1810, he settled at Plattsburg, New York, where he speedily rose to eminence in his profession, and in 1811 he was appointed a master in chancery, and one of the county judges. At the invasion of Plattsburg by the British army in September, 1814, Mr. Walworth, who since 1812 had held the post of adjutant-general of the New York militia, was aide to General Benjamin Mooers, and witnessed Commander McDonough's battle and victory on the lake, having been deputed to watch the contest from the shore and report the result to his chief. He was a member of congress in 1821-'3, and in April of the latter year was appointed judge of' the 4th judicial district of New York state, which office he held for five years. In October of the same year he removed to Saratoga Springs. He presided in his circuit until 1828, when he was appointed chancellor of the state of New York. This office he held for twenty years, when the new constitution of 1848 abolished the court of chancery. In 1828 he removed to Albany, but in the spring of 1833 he returned to Saratoga Springs and to his residence at Pine Grove, where he remained until his death. Pine Grove (seen in the accompanying illustration) was for many years a much-frequented place, few residences in the land seeing more of the great celebrities of the country, especially jurists and statesmen, among them De Witt Clinton, Martin Van Buren, Silas Wright, Daniel D. Tompkins, William L. Marcy, Francis Granger, William H. Seward, Stephen A. Douglas, Millard Fillmore, James Buchanan, Chancellor Kent, Judge Story, Washington Irving, Fenimore Cooper, and General Winfield Scott. Chancellor Walworth may justly be regarded as the great artisan of our equity laws. In some sense he was the Bentham of America, without the bold speculations and fantastical theories which, to a certain extent, characterized the great British jurist. What Bentham did in removing defects in English jurisprudence Walworth did in renovating and simplifying the equity laws of the United States. Justice Story pronounced him " the greatest equity jurist living." Before his day the court of chancery in New York state was a tribunal of ill-defined powers and uncertain jurisdiction, in a measure subservient to the English court of chancery in its procedure. Chancellor Walworth abolished much of that subtlety, many of those prolix and bewildering formalities which had their origin in the middle ages. He reduced the practice of his court to standard rules, which he prepared with great industry. These rules greatly improved the old system of equity practice, and though he has been charged with thus complicating the court of chancery with expensive machinery, it cannot be gainsaid that with Chancellor Walworth equity was the soul and spirit of law, "creating positive and defining rational law, flexible in its nature, and suited to the fortunes, cases, and reciprocal obligations of men." The contents of fourteen volumes of Paige and Barbour's "Chancery Reports," containing the adjudications in his own court, and a large part of the matter of the thirty-eight volumes of Wendell, Hill, and Denio's "Reports," consisting of the opinions he pronounced in the court of errors, attest his vast judicial labors. All widows and orphans in the state were wards of the court of chancery. The chancellor construed this tutelage in the most simple sense and acted accordingly. His wards had easy access to him without any formalities of red tape. He listened to their stories patiently, instituted inquiries after his own fashion, and often made some prompt order in their favor upon such informal application. Chancellor Walworth was of such a genial, winning manner that whoever came in contact with him was at once placed at ease. He was also very benevolent, and was constantly looking about him for some deserving object upon whom to exercise his kindness. He was for many years an elder in the Presbyterian church, and took it upon himself to care especially for the poor of the congregation. He was an early and stanch friend of temperance, and for a long period was president of the American temperance union. He was also vice-president of the Bible society and the Tract society. Princeton gave him the degree of LL. D. in 1835. He was the author of "Rules and Orders of the New York Court of Chancery" (Albany, 1829; several revised eds.), and " Hyde Genealogy" (2 vols., 1864). --His son, Clarence Alphonsus, author, born in Plattsburg, New York, 30 Nay, 1820, was graduated at Union college in 1838, and studied law, first at Canandaigua, New York, and afterward at Albany. He was admitted to the bar in July, 1841, and practised one year at Rochester. Afterward he was a student at the General theological seminary of the Protestant Episcopal church. New York city, for three years, and then, uniting with the Roman Catholic church, went to Belgium, spending three years with the Redemptionists, and at the College of Wittemberg, where he was ordained priest. He was then sent to England, taking charge, while there, of a new church at Upton on Severn, and acting as a missionary in London, Liverpool, and Manchester. He returned in March, 1850, and was a travelling missionary throughout the United States for fifteen years. He was also one of the five founders of the order of Paulists in the United States. (See HECKER, ISAAC T.) In 1864 his health compelled him to relinquish his work as a missionary and return to his home at Saratoga Springs, and he was afterward made rector of St. Mary's parish, Albany, New York, in which post he has since remained. Father Walworth has ever been an advocate of the cause of temperance, and has for several years been vice-president of the Law and order league of the state of New York. He is the author of "The Gentle Skeptic," a work on the authorship and inspiration of the Old Testament (New York, 1860); "The Doctrine of Hell, ventilated in a Discussion between Reverend C. A. Walworth and William H. Burr, Esq." (1874); and "Andiatarocte, or the Eve of Lady Day on Lake George, and other Poems, Hymns, and Meditations in Verse" (1888). He has also contributed to "Brown-son's Review" and to "The Catholic World," and is well known as a lecturer.--Another son, Mansfield Tracy, novelist, born in Albany, New York, 3 December, 1830; died in New York city, 3 June, 1873, was graduated at Union college in 1849 and at Harvard law-school in 1852, and admitted to the bar in 1855. After practising in Albany with his father for some time, he abandoned his profession for that of literature, began writing for the " Home Journal," and subsequently composed many sensational romances. He was intentionally shot and killed by his son, whose trial for the crime is celebrated in American law annals. The son was acquitted on the ground of mental aberration, and placed in an insane asylum. Mr. Walworth's books, which at one time had a large circulation, include "Mission of Death" (New York, 1853); "Lulu" (1860);" Hotspur" (1861.) ; " Storm cliff " (1865) ; " Warwick " (1868) ; " Delaphme, or the Sacrifice of Irene" (1872); and "Beverly, or the White Mask" (1873). At the time of his death he was engaged on the "Lives of the Chancellors of New York State," and had just completed a "Life of Chancellor Livingston." After his death two works were published from his manuscripts : "Married in Mask" (1888), and "Tahara, a Leaf from Empire" (1888). --His wife, Ellen Hardin, author, born in Jacksonville, Illinois, 20 October, 1832, is the daughter of Colonel John J. Hardin, who was killed at Buena Vista. She has been a member of the board of education for three years in Saratoga Springs, and principal, for six years, of a school for young ladies. She is an active trustee of the Saratoga monument association, and through her instrumentality about twenty spots of historic interest on the battle-fields have been recently marked by granite tablets. Mrs. Walworth has published an account of the Burgoyne campaign, with several original maps (New York, 1877), and has contributed to the " Magazine of American History" an account of the battle of Buena. Vista--a chapter of the work on which she is now engaged, "The Life of Colonel John J. Hardin, and a History of the Hardin Family." She has also written several patriotic and other poems, and has ready a volume of essays on literary, artistic, scientific, and educational topics.--Their daughter, Ellen Hardin, author, born in Saratoga Springs, 2 October, 1858, has published "An Old World, as seen through Young Eyes" (New York, 1875), and has now ready a work entitled "The Lily of the Mohawks, or the Life and Times of Katarie Tegokwithi," the first Iroquois convert to the Christian faith.--Anot, her daughter, Renbena Hyde, born in Louisville, Kentucky, 21 February, 1867, has published poems in magazines, and is the author of a comediette entitled "Where was Elsie? or the Saratoga Fairies" (New York, 1888).

Edited Appletons Encyclopedia, Copyright © 2001 VirtualologyTM

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