Gaston, William Joseph
- Timothy S. Huebner
Gaston, William Joseph (19 September 1778–23 January 1844), statesman and jurist, was born in New Bern, North Carolina, the son of Alexander Gaston, a native of Ireland and British Navy surgeon who settled in America, and Margaret Sharpe, an Englishwoman and a dedicated Catholic. Active in the American revolutionary cause, the elder Gaston was killed by a band of Tories in 1781 in the presence of his wife, to whom was left the responsibility of raising the couple’s two children, who also witnessed his death. Margaret Gaston exerted a powerful influence on her son, nurtured him in the Catholic faith, and in 1791 sent him to the newly established Georgetown College in Maryland. Ill health, however, soon forced the young Gaston to return home. After studying at the New Bern Academy for a year, he eventually enrolled at Princeton, where in 1796 he graduated at age eighteen with highest honors. Again returning to New Bern, Gaston studied law under Francis Xavier Martin, earned admission to the bar in 1798, and immediately took over the law practice of brother-in-law ...