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Lawyers and Poetry

Thomas Durfee

Rhode Island

"Durfee, Thomas, jurist, was born at Tiverton, Newport co., R.I., Feb. 6, 1826, eldest son of Job and Judith (Borden) Durfee . . . . He was educated at the private school of Rev. James Richardson, at East Greenwich, and was graduated at Brown University in 1846. He at once entered upon the study of law in the office of Charles F. Tillinghast and Charles S. Bradley; was admitted to the bar in 1848 and began the practice of his profession in Providence. In 1849 he was appointed reporter to the supreme court and published the larger part of Vol. I and the whole of Vol. II, and served five years as presiding magistrate, until 1860, when he retired. In 1863 he served in the state legislature, and though it was his first year in the house, he was chosen speaker. . . . In 1865 he was a member of the state senate; in June, 1865, was chosen associate justice of the supreme court, and on Feb. 6, 1875, became chief justice to succeed George A. Brayton, retiring after more than twenty=five years' service on the bench. He was the author of a work on the 'Law of Highways' (1857); a volume of verse, 'The Village Picnic and Other Poems' (1872); a paper entitled Gleanings from the Judicial History of Rhode Island' (1883), and 'Some Thoughts on the Constitution of Rhode Island' (1884). In 1897 he was chairman of a commission to revise the Constitution of the state. . . . He died in Providence, R.I., June 6, 1901." [The National Cyclopedia of Biography 251 (New York: James T. White & Co., 1904)(vol.12)][online text]

Thomas Durfee's father, Job Durfee, was also a lawyer and a poet, and also served on Rhode Island's supreme court.


Thomas Durfee, The Village Picnic and Other Poems (Providence, Rhode Island: George H. Whitney, 1872) [online text]