Read SCOTS IN THE JUDICIARY of Scotland's Mark on America, free online book, by George Fraser Black, on ReadCentral.com.

As with the medical and theological professions the legal has shared the dominating influence of Scotland, and indeed it is perhaps not too much to say that much of the distinctive character of American jurisprudence is due to the influence of men of Scottish blood at the bench and bar. The second Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court (John Rutledge) and two of the four original Associate Justices, Blair and Wilson, were of Scottish origin. The mother of John Marshall, the great Chief Justice, was of Scottish origin (Keith). Of fifty judges of the United States Supreme Court from 1789 to 1882, at least fifteen were of Scottish birth or descent. We have space here to deal with only a selection of the most prominent names.

Andrew Kirkpatrick (1756-1831), Chief Justice of New Jersey for twenty-one years, whose “decisions especially those on realty matters, show a depth of research, a power of discrimination, and a justness of reasoning which entitle him to rank among the first American jurists,” was of Scottish parentage, descended from the Kirkpatricks of Dumfriesshire. His son, also named Andrew, was President Judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Essex County (1885-96) and United States District Judge (1896-1904). George Robertson (1790-1874), Chief Justice of Kentucky (1829-43), “whose name stands first in the list of great men who have occupied and adorned the Appellate bench of Kentucky,” and who declined the offer of the governorship of Arkansas, was of Scottish ancestry. Robert Cooper Grier (1794-1870), Associate Justice of the Superior Court of Connecticut (1846-70) was of same origin. Eugenius Aristides Nisbet (1803-71), descended from Murdoch Nisbet, a Lollard of Kyle, after a brilliant career in the state legislature became Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia. Thomas Todd (1765-1826), Associate Justice of the Supreme Court (1807-26). The first Chief Justice of Delaware, William Killen (1722-1805), was born in the north of Ireland of Scottish parentage. John J. Milligan (1795-1875), grandson of a Scottish emigrant from Ayrshire, was Associate Justice of Delaware, and refused, on account of ill health, the portfolio of Secretary of the Interior in the cabinet of President Fillimore. Ellis Lewis (1798-1871), Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania (1855-57) was of Scottish descent. Alexander Addison (1759-1807), born in Scotland, became President Judge of the fifth judicial district of Pennsylvania under the constitution of 1770. Robert Hunter Morris, Lieutenant-Governor of Pennsylvania, was Chief Justice of New Jersey for twenty-one years. John McLean (1785-1861), Associate Justice, is noticed under Scots in the Presidential Cabinet; and William Paterson, Associate Justice (1793-1806), is mentioned under Colonial Governors. Samuel Nelson (1792-1873), Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, was of Ulster Scot descent. “His decisions have stood the test of time and the searching analysis of the most able lawyers.” Thomas Douglas (1790-1853), first Chief Justice of Florida, was of Scots ancestry. William Wallace Campbell (1806-81), great-grandson of an Ulster Scot, was distinguished as a jurist and as a historian of New York State. He was author of Annals of Tryon County (1831), Border Warfare of New York (1849), Life and Writings of De Witt Clinton (1849), etc During a visit to Scotland in 1848 he was elected an honorary member of the Clan Campbell at a great gathering at Inveraray. Thomas Drummond (1809-90), grandson of a Scot from Falkirk, was Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court. John Archibald Campbell (1811-89), Associate Justice of the Supreme Court (1853-61), was Assistant Secretary of War in the Confederate Cabinet, and in 1865 took part in the “Hampton Roads Conference.” John Wallace Houston (1841-95), Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Delaware, was of Scots descent. His ancestors first settled in New York city, and Houston Street is named after one of them. Other Associate Justices of Delaware of Scottish descent are Charles Mason Cullen (1829-1903), and George Gray (b 1840), Attorney-General (1879-85), United States Senator, Member of the Russo-Japanese Peace Commission of 1898, and Member of the Anthracite Coal Strike Commission of 1902. James Gilfillan (1829-94), born at Bannockburn, Stirlingshire, “a profound scholar, and as a jurist was distinguished for his ability, firmness, and absolute impartiality.” William Joseph Robertson (1817-98), born in Virginia of Scottish parents, was Judge of the Supreme Court of Virginia and Judge of the Supreme Court of Appeals (1859). Thomas Sloan Bell (1800-61), of Scottish parentage, became President Judge of the Judicial District of the counties of Wayne, Pike, Carbon, and Monroe, in Pennsylvania, in 1855, and held many other important positions. Samuel Dana Bell, son of Samuel Bell, Governor of New Hampshire, was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New Hampshire (1859-64). Matthew Hall McAllister (1800-65), for several years Mayor of Savannah, Georgia, afterwards United States Circuit Judge of California, LL.d of Columbia University, was of Scottish ancestry. Thomas Ewing (1829-96), son of Thomas Ewing, Secretary of the Treasury, at the age of twenty-nine was elected first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Ohio. During the Civil War he took a conspicuous part and rose to the rank of General. William Harper (1790-1847), born in Antigua, Leeward Islands, of Scottish parents, was Chancellor of the University of South Carolina (1828-30, 1835-47) and Judge of the Court of Appeals of South Carolina (1830-35). John Bannister Gibson (1780-1853), Chief Justice of Pennsylvania, was of Ulster Scot descent. Harry Innes (1752-1816), of Scottish parentage, was one of the Commissioners appointed to draft a constitution for Kentucky, being chosen by Washington because of his integrity. He was also appointed first Chief Justice of Kentucky but declined the office. John Buchanan (1772-1844), of Scottish ancestry, was Chief Justice of Maryland, and Chief Justice of the Court of Appeals for thirty-seven years. His brother, Thomas, was associated with him on the bench. David Torrance (1840-1906), Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Connecticut, was born in Edinburgh.