Judges of the Supreme Court of Virginia

The state's highest appellate court, the Supreme Court of Virginia, was created by acts of assembly passed in 1778 and 1779 and given the name Court of Appeals. It initially consisted of the five members of the General Court, the three judges of the Court of Admiralty, and the three judges (or chancellors) of the High Court of Chancery, all elected by the General Assembly and all members of the Court of Appeals ex officio. The court met for the first time on August 30, 1779. MORE...

 

In 1788 the assembly abolished the Court of Admiralty and in 1789 created a new Court of Appeals with five judges who served on that court only. The assembly elected the judges, but governors sometimes appointed new members to fill vacancies that occurred when the assembly was not in session. From time to time the assembly varied the number of members of the court, which today consists of seven justices. The Constitution of 1830 changed the name of the court to the Supreme Court of Appeals. Between the effective dates of the Constitution of 1851 and the end of the American Civil War (1861–1865), voters elected the members of the court for twelve-year terms. Under the Constitution that the Restored government at Alexandria put into operation in 1864, the General Assembly regained the responsibility to select the judges. Their terms of office remained fixed at twelve years under the Constitutions of 1869, 1902, and 1971. The Constitution of 1971 renamed the court the Supreme Court of Virginia. The senior member and presiding judge of the court was called president from 1779 until amendments ratified on June 19, 1928, changed the title to chief justice.

For a brief time during Reconstruction (1869–1870), three members of the court (Horace Blois Burnham, Orloff Mather Dorman, and Westel Willoughby) sat under the authority of an appointment by the commanding general of the First Military District. They have usually been identified as members of the Military Court of Appeals, as if it was a different court, but it was not. A few judges of the General Court who were eligible to sit on the Court of Appeals during the 1780s never took their seats. In addition, James Pleasants Jr. (1769–1836), who was elected to the Court of Appeals on January 30, 1811, resigned on January 31, 1811, before taking office; and Lucas Powell Thompson (1797–1866), who was elected on February 22, 1866, died on April 21, 1866, before taking his seat.

Each entry includes life dates, place of residence when chosen as a judge, and period of service beginning with the date the judge first sat on the court, if known, or the beginning of the court session otherwise.

  • George Steven Agee (1952– ), from Salem, March 1, 2003–June 30, 2008.
  • John James Allen (1797–1871), from Botetourt County, January 6, 1841–February 8, 1865 (president, January 6, 1851–February 8, 1865).
  • Francis Thomas Anderson (1808–1887), from Lexington, April 12, 1870–December 31, 1882.
  • Briscoe Gerard Baldwin (1789–1852), from Staunton, January 31, 1842–died May 18, 1852.
  • John Blair (1731–1800), from Williamsburg, August 30, 1779–November 23, 1780 (as judge of the General Court), November 23, 1780–March 5, 1789 (as judge of the High Court of Chancery); June 20, 1789–resigned by September 30, 1789.
  • Wood Bouldin (1811–1876), from Richmond, April 2, 1872–died October 10, 1876.
  • William Brockenbrough (1778–1838), from Richmond, March 1, 1834–died December 10, 1838.
  • Francis Taliaferro Brooke (1763–1851), from Spotsylvania County, March 4, 1811–died March 3, 1851 (president, February 15, 1824–April 12, 1831).
  • George Landon Browning (1867–1947), from Orange County, February 19, 1930–died August 26, 1947.
  • Archibald Chapman Buchanan (1890–1979), from Tazewell County, October 7, 1946–September 30, 1969. Retired.
  • John Alexander Buchanan (1843–1921), from Washington County, January 1, 1895–January 12, 1915. Retired.
  • Edward Calohill Burks (1821–1897), from Bedford County, January 9, 1877–December 31, 1882.
  • Martin Parks Burks (1851–1928), from Lexington, March 22, 1917–died April 30, 1928.
  • Horace Blois Burnham (1824–1894), a native of New York but resident of Richmond, June 22, 1869–February 22, 1870 (president, June 22, 1869–February 22, 1870).
  • William H. Cabell (1772–1853), from Buckingham County, April 3, 1811–December 31, 1850 (president, January 20, 1842–December 31, 1850).
  • Preston White Campbell (1874–1954), from Washington County, January 31, 1924–October 1, 1946 (chief justice, November 25, 1931–October 1, 1946). Retired.
  • Richard Henry Cardwell (1846–1931), from Hanover County, January 1, 1895–November 16, 1916 (president, June 12, 1916–November 16, 1916). Retired.
  • Dabney Carr (1773–1837), from Winchester, March 19, 1824–died January 8, 1837.
  • Harry Lee Carrico (1916–2013), from Fairfax County, January 30, 1961–January 31, 2003 (chief justice, February 1, 1981–January 31, 2003). Retired.
  • Paul Carrington (1733–1818), from Charlotte County, December 16, 1779–June 20, 1789 (as judge of the General Court); June 20, 1789–January 1, 1807. Retired.
  • Richard Cary (d. 1789), from Warwick County, August 30, 1779–March 5, 1789 (as judge of the Court of Admiralty).
  • Richard Henry Lee Chichester (1870–1930), from Fredericksburg, June 1, 1925–died February 3, 1930.
  • Joseph William Chinn (1866–1936), from Richmond County, December 3, 1931–died August 16, 1936.
  • Joseph Christian (1828–1905), from Richmond, April 12, 1870–December 31, 1882.
  • John Coalter (1769–1838), from Augusta County, June 1, 1811–March 23, 1831. Resigned.
  • George Moffett Cochran (1912–2011), from Staunton, October 1, 1969–April 20, 1987. Retired.
  • Asbury Christian Compton (1929–2006), from Richmond, October 1, 1974–February 2, 2000. Retired.
  • William Roscow Wilson Curle (d. by 1782), from Elizabeth City County, August 30, 1779–died by February 7, 1782 (as judge of the Court of Admiralty).
  • Bartholomew Dandridge (1737–1785), from New Kent County, March 29, 1780–died April 18, 1785 (as judge of the General Court).
  • William Daniel Jr. (1806–1873), from Lynchburg, January 5, 1847–February 8, 1865.
  • Orloff Mather Dorman (1809–1879), a native of Massachusetts but resident of Richmond, June 22, 1869–February 25, 1870.
  • John William Eggleston (1886–1976), from Norfolk, March 5, 1935–October 1, 1969 (chief justice, July 29, 1958–October 1, 1969). Retired.
  • Louis Spencer Epes (1882–1935), from Richmond, November 20, 1929–died February 14, 1935.
  • Thomas Turner Fauntleroy Jr. (1823–1906), from Winchester, January 1, 1883–December 31, 1894.
  • William Fleming (1736–1824), from Cumberland County, March 29, 1781–March 5, 1789 (as judge of the General Court); June 20, 1789–died February 17, 1824 (president, July 30, 1809–February 17, 1824).
  • Samuel Bernard Goodwyn (1961– ), from Chesapeake, October 18, 2007– .
  • Thomas Christian Gordon Jr. (1915–2003), from Richmond, February 17, 1965–May 31, 1972. Resigned.
  • John Williams Green (1781–1834), from Culpeper County, October 11, 1822–died February 4, 1834.
  • Herbert Bailey Gregory (1884–1951), from Roanoke, February 1, 1930–died March 9, 1951.
  • Alexander Marrs Harman Jr. (1921–1996), from Pulaski County, October 1, 1969–December 31, 1979. Retired.
  • Albertis Sydney Harrison Jr. (1907–1995), from Brunswick County, October 23, 1967–December 31, 1981. Retired.
  • George Moffett Harrison (1847–1923), from Staunton, January 1, 1895–March 6, 1917 (president, November 16, 1916–March 6, 1917). Resigned.
  • Leroy Rountree Hassell Sr. (1955–2011), from Richmond, December 28, 1989–died February 9, 2011 (chief justice, February 1, 2003–January 31, 2011).
  • James Henry (1731–1804), from Accomack County, April 29, 1783–December 24, 1788 (as judge of the Court of Admiralty).
  • Drury Andrew Hinton (1839–1909), from Petersburg, January 1, 1883–December 31, 1894.
  • Henry Winston Holt (1864–1947), from Staunton, June 1, 1928–died October 4, 1947 (chief justice, October 1, 1946–October 4, 1947).
  • Edward Wren Hudgins (1882–1958), from Mecklenburg County, February 1, 1930–died July 29, 1958 (chief justice, October 4, 1947–July 29, 1958).
  • Lawrence Warren I'Anson (1907–1990), from Portsmouth, September 3, 1958–January 31, 1981 (chief justice, September 30, 1974–January 31, 1981). Retired.
  • William Thomas Joynes (1817–1874), from Petersburg, March 7, 1866–March 21, 1869; April 12, 1870–March 12, 1872. Resigned.
  • Barbara Milano Keenan (1950– ), from Fairfax County, July 2, 1991–March 2, 2010.
  • James Keith (1839–1917), from Loudoun County, January 1, 1895–June 10, 1916 (president, January 1, 1895–June 10, 1916). Resigned.
  • Joseph Luther Kelly (1867–1925), from Bristol, January 12, 1915–January 31, 1924 (president, January 13, 1920–January 31, 1924). Resigned. Reappointed February 21, 1925, and served March 10–died April 14, 1925.
  • Cynthia Dinah Fannon Kinser (1951– ), from Washington County, July 8, 1997– (chief justice, February 1, 2011– ).
  • Lawrence Larkins Koontz Jr. (1940– ), from Salem, August 16, 1995–February 1, 2011. Retired.
  • Benjamin Watkins Lacy (1839–1895), from New Kent County, January 1, 1883–December 31, 1894.
  • Elizabeth Bermingham Lacy (1945– ), a native of South Carolina but resident of Henrico County, January 4, 1989–August 16, 2007. Retired.
  • George Hay Lee (1808–1873), from Harrison County, July 1, 1852–February 8, 1865. Did not sit after the April term of 1861, however, because Harrison County separated from Confederate Virginia in June 1861.
  • Donald Wayne Lemons (1949– ), from Hanover County, March 16, 2000– .
  • Lunsford Lomax Lewis (1846–1920), from Culpeper County, November 10, 1882–December 31, 1894 (president, January 5, 1883–December 31, 1894).
  • Peter Lyons (ca. 1734–1809), from Hanover County, December 16, 1779–March 5, 1789 (as judge of the General Court); June 20, 1789–died July 30, 1809 (president, October 26, 1803–July 30, 1809).
  • Elizabeth A. McClanahan (1959– ), from Buchanan County, August 1, 2011– .
  • James Mercer (1736–1793), from Hampshire County, October 29, 1782–March 5, 1789 (as judge of the General Court); November 20, 1789–died October 31, 1793.
  • Leroy Francis Millette Jr. (1949– ), from Prince William County, September 5, 2008– .
  • Willis Dance Miller (1893–1960), from Richmond, November 17, 1947–died December 20, 1960.
  • William Cleveland Mims (1957– ), from Henrico County, April 1, 2010– .
  • Richard Cassius Lee Moncure (1805–1882), from Stafford County, April 1, 1851–March 21, 1869, April 12, 1870–died August 24, 1882 (president, March 7, 1866–March 21, 1869, April 12, 1870–August 24, 1882).
  • Robert Carter Nicholas (1729–1780), from Hanover County, December 17, 1779–died September 8, 1780 (as judge of the High Court of Chancery).
  • Richard Parker (ca. 1729–1813), from Westmoreland County, October 29, 1788–March 5, 1789 (as judge of the General Court).
  • Richard Elliot Parker (1783–1840), from Clarke County, April 10, 1837–died September 10, 1840.
  • Edmund Pendleton (1721–1803), from Caroline County, August 30, 1779–March 5, 1789 (as judge of the High Court of Chancery), June 20, 1789–died October 26, 1803 (president August 30, 1779–October 26, 1803).
  • Archer Allen Phlegar (1846–1912), from Bristol, November 13, 1900–February 13, 1901. Temporary appointment.
  • James Pleasants Jr. (1769–1836), from Goochland County, elected January 30, 1811; resigned January 31, 1811. Never sat.
  • Richard Harding Poff (1923–2011), from Radford, August 31, 1972–December 31, 1988. Retired.
  • Cleo Elaine Powell (1957– ), from Chesterfield County, August 1, 2011– .
  • Robert Riddick Prentis (1855–1931), from Suffolk, December 16, 1916–died November 25, 1931 (president, March 10, 1925–June 19, 1928; chief justice, June 19, 1928–November 25, 1931).
  • Robert Alexander Richardson (1827–1895), from Smyth County, January 1, 1883–December 31, 1894.
  • John William Riely (1839–1900), from Halifax County, January 1, 1895–died August 20, 1900.
  • Alexander Rives (1806–1885), from Albemarle County, May 14, 1866–March 21, 1869.
  • Spencer Roane (1762–1822), from Essex County, April 13, 1795–died September 4, 1822.
  • William Joseph Robertson (1817–1898), from Charlottesville, May 10, 1859–February 8, 1865.
  • Charles Stevens Russell (1926– ), from Arlington County, March 1, 1982–July 1, 1991. Retired.
  • Green Berry Samuels (1806–1859), from Shenandoah County, July 1, 1852–died January 5, 1859.
  • Edward Watts Saunders (1860–1921), from Franklin County, March 9, 1920–died December 16, 1921.
  • Frederick Wilmer Sims (1862–1925), from Louisa County, June 12, 1916–died February 8, 1925 (president, January 31, 1924–February 8, 1925).
  • Lemuel Franklin Smith (1890–1956), from Charlottesville, February 15, 1951–died October 15, 1956.
  • Harold Fleming Snead (1903–1987), from Henrico County, January 14, 1957–September 30, 1974 (chief justice, October 1, 1969–September 30, 1974). Retired.
  • Claude Vernon Spratley (1882–1976), from Hampton, November 4, 1936–September 30, 1967. Retired.
  • Robert Stanard (1781–1846), from Richmond, January 28, 1839–died May 14, 1846.
  • Abram Penn Staples (1885–1951), from Roanoke, October 7, 1947–January 15, 1951. Resigned.
  • Waller Redd Staples (1826–1897), from Montgomery County, April 13, 1870–December 31, 1882.
  • Roscoe Bolar Stephenson Jr. (1922–2011), from Covington, March 2, 1981–July 1, 1997. Retired.
  • Henry Tazewell (1753–1799), from Williamsburg, October 29, 1785–December 24, 1788 (as judge of the General Court); November 12, 1793–ca. November 22, 1794. Resigned.
  • John Charles Thomas (1950– ), from Richmond, April 25, 1983–November 1, 1989. Resigned.
  • Lucas Powell Thompson (1797–1866), from Staunton, elected February 22, 1866, died April 21, 1866. Never sat.
  • William Carrington Thompson (1915–2011), from Danville, February 19, 1980–March 2, 1983. Retired.
  • Henry St. George Tucker (1780–1848), from Winchester, April 29, 1831–May 3, 1841 (president, April 29, 1831–May 3, 1841).
  • St. George Tucker (1752–1827), from Williamsburg, April 11, 1804–April 2, 1811. Resigned.
  • John Tyler (1747–1813), from Charles City County, May 5, 1786–March 5, 1789 (as judge of the Court of Admiralty).
  • Benjamin Waller (1716–1786), from Williamsburg, August 30, 1779–ca. December 2, 1785 (as judge of the Court of Admiralty). Resigned.
  • Jesse Felix West (1862–1929), from Sussex County, February 1, 1922–died October 25, 1929.
  • Henry Hudson Whiting (1923–2012), from Winchester, April 30, 1987–August 12, 1995. Retired.
  • Kennon Caithness Whittle (1891–1967), from Martinsville, March 14, 1951–February 1, 1965. Retired.
  • Stafford Gorman Whittle (1849–1931), from Henry County, March 5, 1901–December 31, 1919 (president, March 6, 1917–December 31, 1919). Resigned.
  • Westel Willoughby (1830–1897), a native of New York but resident of Alexandria, June 22, 1869–February 25, 1870.
  • George Wythe (1726–1806), from Williamsburg, August 30, 1779–March 5, 1789 (as judge of the High Court of Chancery). Resigned.
Further Reading
Salmon, Emily J. and Edward D. C. Campbell Jr., eds. The Hornbook of Virginia History: A Ready-Reference Guide to the Old Dominion's People, Places, and Past. Fourth Edition. Richmond, Virginia: The Library of Virginia, 1994.
Cite This Entry
  • APA Citation:

    The Hornbook of Virginia History. Judges of the Supreme Court of Virginia. (2013, December 11). In Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved from http://www.EncyclopediaVirginia.org/Judges_of_the_Supreme_Court_of_Virginia.

  • MLA Citation:

    The Hornbook of Virginia History. "Judges of the Supreme Court of Virginia." Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 11 Dec. 2013. Web. READ_DATE.

First published: December 5, 2013 | Last modified: December 11, 2013


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