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SKETCHES OF THE BENCH AND BAR.
READ BEFORE THE NEW JERSEY HISTORICAL SOCIETY,
RICHARD S. FIELD.
ENTERED, according to act of Congress, in the year 1848,
By RICHARD S. FIELD, In the Clerk's Office of the U. S. District Court for the District of the State
of New Jersey.
LEAVITT, TROW & Co., PRINTERS,
49 Ann-street, New-York.
The following Paper was prepared at the request of the Executive Committee of the New Jersey Historical Society. A portion of it was read at the annual meeting in Trenton, on the twentieth of January, 1848, and the residue at a meeting in Newark, on the twenty-fifth of . May following. It was written without the slightest view to its being published, at least in its present form. While it was hoped, that it would not be altogether without value in the eyes of my professional brethren, to whom it was more particularly addressed, it was not supposed that the subject was one in which the public at large could be made to take much interest. The Society, however, having requested a copy for publication, I have not felt myself at liberty to withhold it.
My object has been, not so much to bring together what is already known, with regard to our Courts, and the character of those who have figured on the Bench and at the Bar, as to rescue from the past such scattered memorials of them as were in danger of perishing for ever. I
have confined my researches therefore entirely to our Provincial Courts, and Colonial judges and lawyers are the only ones whose characters I have attempted to sketch. To those, whose attention has been turned to the subject, I need scarcely say, how slender are the materials which exist for such a work, and how meagre are the accounts which have come down to us, even of those who were the most distinguished in the early periods of our history. We know more, I suspect, of the early settlers of Massachusetts and Virginia, than we do of those who first planted the Colony of New Jersey. I am sure we know more of the lawyers and judges of England prior to the American Revolution, than we do of those of our own State. We are much more familiar with the personages who graced the Court of Queen Anne, than with those who flourished here at the same time under the rule of her kinsman Lord Cornbury.
I have been astonished too to find, how few of the names of distinguished Jerseymen are to be met with in the American Biographical dictionaries. While they abound with ample notices of second and third rate men of other sections of the country, those who have been truly eminent among us, seldom find a place in them. The truth is, our Biographical dictionaries have, for the most part, been written by New England men, and, as it would seem, for New England. We ought to have a Biographical dictionary of our own, and it may be worthy of consideration, whether a work of this description should not be undertaken under the auspices of our Historical Society.
But we have no right to complain of others, for not