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Auchmuty, Robert, Jr. (1725–11 December 1788), lawyer and Loyalist, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Scottish-born Robert Auchmuty, a judge of admiralty in Massachusetts, and Mary Julianna. As a youth Robert attended Boston Latin School and was admitted to Harvard, class of 1746, but never matriculated. He benefited from growing up in an upper-class family and learned law from his father. In 1762 he became a barrister, and many considered him the third best lawyer in Massachusetts, just behind ...

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Bollan, William (1710?–1782), colonial agent and lawyer, was born in England and emigrated from there to America while a teenager. He pursued a legal career by studying as an apprentice under the tutelage of Massachusetts attorney Robert Auchmuty. Little is known of Bollan’s early life and career. However, by 1733 he had begun to gain prominence as an attorney, as evidenced by his acquisition of Harvard College and Boston’s Anglican parish, King’s Chapel, as clients. Bollan was an Anglican, which placed him in a religious minority in Congregational-dominated Boston. By the mid-1730s he had begun to venture into land speculation in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island....

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Bulloch, Archibald (1730–1777), lawyer and revolutionary war leader, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of James Bulloch, a clergyman, member of the South Carolina Assembly, merchant, and Colleton County planter, and Jean Stobo. Although little is known about his early years, it is believed that he received a liberal education and studied law. Prior to his move to Georgia in 1758, he was admitted to the bar and acquired a rice plantation near Purrysburg on the Savannah River. In 1764 he married Mary De Veaux; they had four children. President ...

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Burnet, William (?Mar. 1688–07 September 1729), attorney and royal governor of New York and New Jersey and of Massachusetts and New Hampshire, was born in the Hague, the Netherlands, the son of Gilbert Burnet, a bishop of Salisbury, and his second wife, Mary Scott. William was named for his godfather William of Orange, who became William III of England after the 1688 Glorious Revolution. William entered Trinity College, Cambridge, was expelled, and was then privately instructed by tutors. He was admitted to the bar and in May 1712 married a daughter of Dean Stanhope (her first name and the number of their children is unknown). His wife died three years later. In 1722 Burnet married Anna Maria Van Horne, who died in 1728; the couple had three children....

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Dana, Richard (26 June 1700–17 May 1772), lawyer, justice of the peace, and resistance leader, was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the son of Daniel Dana, a selectman of Cambridge, and Naomi Croswell. Little is known of his early life. In 1718 he graduated from Harvard College, where his roommate was John Hancock, father of the famous patriot and in 1721 he was inoculated against smallpox. He then began to practice law in Marblehead, Massachusetts. The Massachusetts General Court appointed him notary public for the ports of Marblehead and Salem in 1733, a post he held until Marblehead elected him to the House of Representatives for one term, his only one, in 1738. In 1737 he married Lydia Trowbridge, the daughter of Thomas Trowbridge and sister of Judge ...

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Downer, Silas (16 July 1729–15 December 1785), scrivener and lawyer, was born in Norwich, Connecticut, the son of Samuel Downer and Phebe Bishop, farmers. The family soon moved to Sunderland, Massachusetts. Downer entered Harvard in 1747 and was ranked twenty-eighth in a class of thirty. Since Harvard students were then ranked according to their family’s social standing, Downer’s low ranking indicates his relatively humble origins. As an undergraduate, he won Brattle and Hollis scholarships. After receiving an M.A. in 1750, he moved to Rhode Island, settled in Providence, and became a scrivener. He married Sarah Kelton in 1758; within a decade the couple had five children....

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Dulany, Daniel (1685–05 December 1753), lawyer and officeholder, was born in Queen’s County, Ireland, the son of Thomas Dulany (occupation unknown). His mother’s name is unknown. He is often called Daniel Dulany, the Elder, to distinguish him from his son Daniel Dulany, Jr....

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Few, William (08 June 1748–16 July 1828), lawyer, politician, and banker, was born near Baltimore, Maryland, the son of William Few, a failed tobacco planter turned frontier farmer, and Mary Wheeler. Few’s family moved in 1758 to North Carolina, where young William received little formal schooling but enough skills and enough love for reading that the future Founding Father was able to educate himself. In the early 1770s, the Few family joined the Regulator movement, rural westerners’ sometimes violent opposition to unrepresentative coastal political control. The family lost one of William’s brothers, the family farm, and the family fortune in the struggle for more local autonomy. The Fews then moved to Georgia, leaving William behind to settle the family’s affairs, to farm, and to teach himself law....

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Fitch, Thomas (1700–18 July 1774), lawyer and colonial governor, was born in Norwalk, Connecticut, the son of the well-to-do Thomas Fitch and Sarah (maiden name unknown). His great-grandfather, also named Thomas Fitch, was one of the founders of the town. Three years after he graduated from Yale College (1721), Fitch married Hannah Hall of New Haven; they had ten children. By 1726, Fitch was serving occasionally as the substitute minister for the Norwalk Congregational church, although there is no record of his ever being formally ordained....

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Gibbons, William (1750?–27 September 1800), lawyer and politician, was born at Bear Bluff, South Carolina, the son of Joseph Gibbons, a successful rice planter, and Hannah Martin. Young Gibbons read law in Charleston and began his legal practice in Savannah before the Revolution. Georgians, slow to join the revolutionary movement, were split between Whigs and Loyalists, a division reflected in Gibbons’s family. William was an ardent Whig, whereas his brother ...

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Patrick Henry. Etching by Albert Rosenthal, 1888. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-102566).

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Henry, Patrick (29 May 1736–06 June 1799), revolutionary statesman, orator, and lawyer, was born at Studley, Hanover County, Virginia, the son of John Henry, a Scottish-born and prosperous planter, and Sarah Winston Syme, a young widow, also from a family of substantial means. Often mistakenly thought to have been of more humble origins, Patrick Henry was, by birth and estate, a member of the gentry of the colony, if not of the highest rank. After attending a local school for a few years, he received the remainder of his formal education from his father, who had attended King’s College, University of Aberdeen....

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Houstoun, John (1750?–20 July 1796), lawyer, soldier, and politician, was born in St. George’s Parish, Georgia, the son of Sir Patrick Houstoun, a baronet, registrar of grants and receiver of quit rents for the colony, and Priscilla Dunbar. He studied law in Charleston and practiced in Savannah, where he early became involved in the protests against Great Britain prior to the Revolution and was probably a member of the Sons of Liberty. In 1775 he married Hannah Bryan, the daughter of Jonathan Bryan, a prominent planter, a former member of the governor’s council, and one of the leaders of Georgia’s Whig movement; they apparently had no children. In July 1774 he joined ...

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Howley, Richard (1740–30 December 1784), lawyer and governor, was born near Savannah, Georgia; his parents are unknown. Few records of his early life survive, but he apparently studied law and moved to Sunbury, St. John’s Parish, as a young man. In 1775 he married Sarah Fuller of Charleston, South Carolina, the widow of William Fuller and mother of two daughters. Subsequently, the couple had two daughters of their own, one of whom reached adulthood. When the Revolution began, Howley was practicing law at Sunbury, where he also owned a small plantation and a few slaves. He was not prominent in the early stages of the Revolution in Georgia. Apparently, he did not attend early Whig meetings in Savannah during 1774–1775, nor was he a member of the provincial congress. Savannah fell to the British on 29 December 1778, and Colonel Augustine Prevost began a siege of Sunbury. When Fort Morris surrendered in January 1779, Howley fled to Augusta....

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Ingersoll, Jared (23 June 1722–25 August 1781), lawyer and royal official, was born in Milford, Connecticut, the son of Jonathan Ingersoll, a joiner, and Sarah Miles. Ingersoll went to Yale, graduating in 1742 but able to stay on at the college for another year of study, thanks to a Berkeley scholarship. He then prepared for the law and in 1743 married Hannah Whiting, the daughter of a prominent New Haven family....

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Jamison, David (1660–26 July 1739), colonial lawyer and provincial official, was born in Scotland and probably went to college there. Nothing is known for certain regarding his parentage or early life. His coming to New York in 1685 was hardly auspicious. Jamison was expelled from his native country and transported to America because of his association with religious zealots known as the “Sweet Singers.” Their defiance of both Anglican orthodoxy and the restored Stuart monarchy landed them in jail, from whence they were deported. However, his arrest in Scotland, transportation to New York, and subsequent servitude apparently wrought a change in Jamison’s attitude. Far from remaining the religious and political outcast, he diligently sought acceptance....

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Johnson, William Samuel (07 October 1727–14 November 1819), lawyer and politician, was born in Stratford, Connecticut, the son of the Reverend Samuel Johnson, an Anglican clergyman, and Charity Floyd Nicholl, the widow of a wealthy Long Island lawyer. With a younger brother and three stepsiblings from his mother’s first marriage, Johnson grew up in a convivial, intellectually stimulating home made comfortable by his mother’s inherited wealth. His father’s success in making Anglicanism a respectable alternative to Congregationalism fostered amicable relations between Anglican and Puritan acquaintances. A philosopher as well as a churchman, Samuel Johnson taught—in opposition to Puritan childrearing practice—“indulgence” to children’s “intellectual curiosity, … candor, patience, and care” in moral and intellectual training. The recipient of this kind of nurture, William Samuel was also shaped by Connecticut’s culture of “steady habits” and by Anglican decorum....

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Leonard, Daniel (18 May 1740–27 June 1829), lawyer, Loyalist, and chief justice of Bermuda, was born in Norton, Massachusetts, the son of Ephraim Leonard, an ironmonger, and Judith Perkins. His family had enjoyed social and political prominence in southern Massachusetts for more than a hundred years, their wealth having come from the iron industry, which they established in Taunton, Massachusetts. In 1760 Leonard entered Harvard College and was ranked second among his class. His scholastic achievement merited his selection as a commencement speaker, and he delivered his speech in Latin. Returning to Taunton he practiced law alongside Samuel White, Speaker of the Massachusetts Assembly. In 1767 Leonard married White’s daughter Anna White, who died at the birth of their daughter in 1768. Leonard, like his father-in-law, became the king’s attorney for Bristol County in 1769. In 1770 he married Sarah Hammock; they had three children....

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Livingston, Robert Robert ( August 1718–09 December 1775), landowner, attorney, and politician, was born in New York, the only son and heir of Robert Livingston and Margaret Howarden. His father, a younger son of manor lord Robert Livingston, was given a portion of land, called “Clermont,” at the southern end of Livingston Manor. In 1742 Livingston married Margaret Beekman, the heir of Colonel ...

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Paca, William (31 October 1740–13 October 1799), lawyer and officeholder, was born on the Bush River near Abingdon in Baltimore (later Harford) County, Maryland, the son of John Paca, a planter, local officeholder, and delegate to the lower house of the Maryland General Assembly, and Elizabeth Smith. The Paca family was English, the Maryland progenitor arriving in the colony about 1660. At age twelve, Paca entered the Academy and Charity School in Philadelphia, which three years later became the College of Philadelphia. Paca took his B.A. in 1759 and studied law in the office of Stephen Bordley, a prominent Annapolis lawyer. Soon after arriving in Annapolis in 1759, Paca became a founding member of the Forensic Club, a group of “young Gentlemen” that met twice each month to debate politics, morality, and natural law....