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Lemuel Shaw

Birthplace: Bourne, Barnstable, Massachusetts, United States
Death: Died in Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States
Place of Burial: Cambridge, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Rev. Oakes Shaw and Susanna Shaw
Husband of Elizabeth Shaw and Hope Shaw
Father of John Oakes Shaw; Elizabeth Knapp Melville; Lemuel Shaw, Jr. and Samuel Savage Shaw
Brother of John Hayward Shaw
Half brother of Elizabeth Shaw; Temperance Shaw and Sarah Shaw

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About Lemuel Shaw

Wikipedia Biographical Summary:

"...Lemuel Shaw (January 9, 1781 – March 30, 1861) was an American jurist who served as Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court (1830–1860). He also had served for several years in the Massachusetts House of Representatives and as a state senator..."

"...Shaw was born in West Barnstable, Massachusetts, the second son of Oakes Shaw and his second wife Susanna, who was a daughter of John H. Hayward of Braintree. The Shaws were descendants of Abraham Shaw, who left Halifax, England in 1636 and settled in Dedham. Oakes Shaw, a Congregationalist minister, was pastor of the West Church in Barnstable for forty-seven years. Lemuel was named for his uncle, Dr. Hayward of Boston, father of George Hayward, the surgeon..."

"...On January 6, 1818, he married Elizabeth Knapp, daughter of Josiah Knapp of Boston. She died in 1822, leaving a son and a daughter, Elizabeth, who became the wife of author Herman Melville..."

"...On August 29, 1827, Shaw married Hope Savage, daughter of Dr. Samuel Savage of Barnstable; they had two sons..."

"...His exceptionally long judicial career coincided with the development of many important industries, so that he made law on such matters as water power, railroads and other public utilities. Probably no other state judge has so deeply influenced commercial and constitutional law throughout the nation. Almost all the principles laid down by him have proved sound, although his remarkable skill in expounding the fellow-servant rule considerably delayed the replacement of that rule by workmen’s compensation..."

"...In politics he was a Federalist and a Webster Whig, but remained all his life a free-trader. He attended Unitarian services, though he was never a communicant. Fond of entertaining and dining out, he was simple and affectionate in his home life, his interest in the social events of his household extending to the minutest details. After his resignation from the bench, his health failed, and he died within a few months. He was buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery..."

SOURCE: Wikipedia contributors, 'Lemuel Shaw', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 16 June 2011, 11:39 UTC, <> [accessed 15 September 2011]


Lemuel Shaw was Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, 1830-1860.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: Lemuel Shaw (January 9, 1781 - March 30, 1861), was a United States jurist.

He was born at West Barnstable, Massachusetts, son of the minister of the West Parish there. He graduated from Harvard College in 1800, and was admitted to the bar (of New Hampshire and of Massachusetts) in 1804. In 1805 he began to practice law in Boston. He was a prominent Federalist and was a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1811-1814, in 1820, and in 1829, and of the state Senate in 1821-1822, a delegate to the state constitutional convention of 1820-1821, and chief justice of the Supreme Court of the state from 1830 to 1860.

As justice Shaw maintained the high standard of excellence set by Theophilus Parsons. He presided over the trial in 1850 of Professor John White Webster (1793-1850) for the murder of Dr George Parkman.

His work in extending the equity, jurisdiction and powers of the court was especially notable. He was also largely instrumental in defeating an attempt (1843) to make a reduction of salary apply to judges already in office, and an attempt (1853) to abolish the life term of judges. His opinion in Cary v. Daniels (8 Metcalf) is the basis of the present law in Massachusetts as to the regulation of water power rights of riparian proprietors. His ruling in favor of the constitutionality of school segregation in Roberts v. City of Boston (1849) established "separate but equal" as a legal doctrine.

His daughter Elizabeth was married to the author Herman Melville.

See the address by BF Thomas in Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, x. 50-79 (Boston, 1869); and the sketches by Samuel S Shaw and P Emory Aldrich in vol. iv. pp. 200-247, of Memorial Biographies of the New England Historic Genealogical Society (Boston, 1885). --------------------------------------------- from an unknown online biography: Lemuel Shaw (January 9, 1781 - March 30, 1861), American jurist, was born in Barnstable, Massachusetts, the second son of Oakes Shaw and his second wife Susanna, who was a daughter of John H. Hayward of Braintree. Educated at home by his father except for a few months at Braintree, he entered Harvard in 1796. There, he taught school in winter vacations. After graduating with high honors in 1800, he taught for a year in a Boston public school, and wrote articles and read proof for the Boston Gazette, a Federalist newspaper.

In August 1801, he began studying law in Boston under David Everett. Meanwhile, he learned French proficiently from a refugee, Antoine Jay, afterwards a founder in France of the liberal Constitution. In 1802, he moved with Everett to Amherst, New Hampshire, where besides doing legal work he contributed a poem on dancing and translations from French to the Farmers' Cabinet, a local newspaper.

Admitted to the bar in Hillsborough County, NH, in September 1804, and in Plymouth County, MA that November, he began practice in Boston. When his associate left Boston after being acquitted of murder in a political quarrel, he practiced alone for fifteen years. In about 1822, he took Sidney Bartlett, an able trial lawyer, as his junior partner. His practice gradually became large, but he was less known as an advocate than as the adviser of important commercial enterprises.

He was member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1811-14, 1820 and 1829, a state senator in 1821-22, and a member of the constitutional convention of 1820. He also held many offices in Boston. In 1822, with few precedents to guide him, he drew the first charter of the city, which lasted until 1913. On the death of Chief Justice Isaac Parker, Governor Levi Lincoln offered Shaw the appointment. Though it meant giving up a practice of $15,00 to $20,000 a year for a salary of $3,500, he accepted. His commission was issued August 30, 1830, and he served 30 years, resigning August 21, 1860.

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Lemuel Shaw's Timeline

January 9, 1781
Bourne, Barnstable, Massachusetts, United States
March 26, 1820
Age 39
Cambridge, MA, USA
June 13, 1822
Age 41
Boston, MA, USA
July 15, 1828
Age 47
Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States
October 16, 1833
Age 52
Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States
March 30, 1861
Age 80
Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States
Cambridge, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States