Mississippi Genealogy Trails

Hamilton Henderson Chalmers[1]


Courts, Judges, and Lawyers of Mississippi, 1798-1935, By Dunbar Rowland, B.S., LL.B., LL.D., Press of Hederman Press, Jackson, Mississippi, 1935, pgs 110-113



“This day appeared in open court Mr. W. L. Nugent who presented an epitome of the life of the Honorable Hamilton Henderson Chalmers, late associate justice of this court, and resolutions commemorative of his death, which were heretofore adopted by a meeting composed of members of the bar of this State, and asked that the same be spread upon the minutes of this court.”

Said deserved epitome and resolutions are as follows:

“Hamilton Henderson Chalmers, second son of Joseph W. Chalmers, was born at the residence of his maternal grandfather, Col. Alex. Henderson, in Rockingham county, N. C., on the 15th of October, 1835, while his father was removing from Virginia to Tennessee.  In March, 1839, he was brought by his father to Holly Springs, Mississippi, where he attended the famous St. Thomas Hall School.  In 1853, he graduated at the Mississippi University, and immediately thereafter came to Jackson, Mississippi, to study law under his cousin, D. C. Glenn.  In 1854 & 5, he was librarian and keeper of the capitol.  In 1856 & 7, he was secretary of the State senate.  In 1857, he was married to Miss Emily H. Erwin, a native of Hinds county, Mississippi, with whom he lived on the happiest terms until his death.  He commenced the practice of law in Yazoo City, Mississippi, and went thence to New Orleans, Louisiana, where he practiced a shirt time in partnership with D. C. Glenn, and then returned to Mississippi, and settled in Hernando.  In 1861, he was appointed district attorney of the 7th judicial district of Mississippi to fill the place of his brother J. R. Chalmers, who had entered the Confederate service.  In 1862, he was appointed in the commissary department of the Confederate States with the rank of major, and while on the staff of his brother, General Chalmers, was slightly wounded in the cavalry engagement at Salem, Mississippi.  In 1865, he was appointed assistant adjutant general on the staff of General Peter B. Stark, which place he held at the surrender.  In 1876, he was appointed by Governor Stone associate justice of the supreme court of Mississippi to fill the unexpired term of Hon. E. G. Peyton.  In 1882 he was appointed as his own successor by Governor Lowry.

“Whereas it has pleased the One Omniscient Judge of the Universe to call from the scene of his labors and usefulness, Hamilton Henderson Chalmers, associate justice of the supreme court of Mississippi, the members of the Mississippi bar, assembled at the capitol, profoundly impressed with the magnitude of the injury that the jurisprudence and society of the State have sustained, desire to formulate, in enduring shape, their convictions as to that injury, as well as their sentiments of affection and respect for the deceased, therefore,

Resolved, That un the death of Judge Chalmers the bench of the State has lost one of its most conservative, upright, attentive, and learned jurists; the bar, one of its most brilliant and successful members, and society, a genial, cultured, amiable, attractive, and hospitable gentleman.

Resolved, That we tender to the members of his bereaved household, our unaffected sympathy and condolence for the irreparable loss they have sustained.  We knew Judge Chalmers well, and can truthfully say, “None knew him but to love him.”

Resolved, That these resolutions, with the annexed sketch of his life, be presented to the supreme court of the State, with the request that they be spread upon its minutes, and that a copy of the same be forwarded to the distressed widow of our deceased brother.”

The following is the reply of the court through its chief justice to the address of the bar in reference to Judge Chalmers:

“The resolutions of the bar will be spread on the minutes, as requested.  The court cheerful joins the bar in an effort to pay tribute to the memory of the lamented dead.  His death was undoubtedly a great public loss, and to the surviving members of the court, it was a personal bereavement.  One of them was for nearly nine years a constant witness of his indefatigable and faithful labors as a judge, and the others during three years of association learned to place the same estimate on him which the longer association of the other enable him to form.  The presence of Judge Chalmers in the consultation room of the court was a continual refreshment to his brethren.  His spirits were so buoyant and his temper so genial as to make all pleasant about him.  His intellect was both sprightly and vigorously.  His Intellectual treasures were great.  He was an able lawyer, and a capable and faithful judge.  The State never had one more faithful.  He was able and willing to work, and the records of this court abound in evidence of his industry, fidelity and ability.  He came on the when the court was hundreds of cases behind hand, and with the ardor of youth, and zeal of an earnest resolve to perform public duty addressed himself to the much needed work of clearing the dockets, and proved a valuable coadjutor in bringing about the desirable condition in which every suitor is bale at each term of the court to have his case disposed of without delay.  There was no shrinking from labor or evasion of duty pr responsibility on the part of Judge Chalmers.  He was ready to do his part, and bear his share of responsibility.  He had a high sense of official duty, and was moved by desire faithfully to perform it.  He was proud of his high position, and conscious of its great responsibility as involving the momentous duty to sit in final judgment on the life, liberty or fortune of the citizen.  He felt the heavy weight of this tremendous responsibility, and strove to meet it in good faith; and there can be little doubt that the exacting nature of his onerous duties as a judge, and the consequent denial of needed rev=creation hastened the decay which made him a victim to death at an early age after which men usually are capable of their greatest mental achievements.  His surviving brethren of the bench bear willing testimony to his deserts, and take pleasure in honoring his memory.  He richly deserves all the praises bestowed, and is entitled to be held in grateful recollection by the bar and people he served so well.”


[1] Proceedings of the Mississippi Supreme Court of Monday, January 18, 1885



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