< Bedford County TN Genealogy & History

Bedford County TN Biographies


Public-spirited and progressive, Bromfield Ridley Whitthorne occupies a noteworthy position among the foremost citizens of Shelbyville, which is the place of his nativity, his birth having occurred in this city December 17, 1852.

His father, Major William J. Whitthorne was born February 22, 1797 in Ireland. His grandfather was born in the north of Ireland, of Scotch ancestry and spent his entire life in the Emerald Isle. Major Whitthorne was an infant when his father died, and four years later he was made an orphan by the death of his mother, who died on board the vessel in which she had taken passage for America. He was subsequently taken in charge by his mother's brother, who settled near Raleigh NC. When he was 16 years his uncle sent him back to Ireland to continue his studies at the University of Dublin. After his graduation from that institution, he returned to NC and a little later came to the eastern part of TN from there coming to Bedford County, and locating as a merchant in Farmington, for a number of years conducting a general store. He carried on business under what today would be considered almost insurmountable difficulties, all of his goods, which he bought in Philadelphia, coming via the Ohio and Cumberland rivers to Nashville, and then being hauled by teams to Farmington. In 1842 he was appointed United States deputy marshal formidable Tennessee, and while serving in that capacity was appointed by Judge B.L. Ridley clerk and master of the chancery court of Shelbyville, a position that he filled for 27 years, when he resigned, and thereafter lived retired until his death, Feb. 19, 1872 and was buried on the 75th anniversary of his birth. Soon after coming to Tennessee he was admitted to the bar, and later was commissioned by Gov. Sam Houston major of the 22nd Reg. TN Militia.

Major Whitthorne married Eliza J. Wisener, a native of Bedford county, where her parents, Martin and Margaret Wisener, settled on coming from NC to TN, becoming a prosperous farmer in his adopted home. She survived him five years, passing away Oct. 16, 1877. She reared a family of 11 children, as follows: Washington C., George M., Samuel H., DeWitt C., James K. P., Martha J. , Felicia J., Andrew J., William J., Jr., Frank C. and Bromfield Ridley. Of these children, George M., Samuel H., DeWitt C. and James K.P. served in the Mexican war, while Washington C., George M., Samuel H., Andrew j., William J. and Frank C. were soldiers in the Confederate Army, and William J. Whitthorne Jr., took part in the Spanish American war, serving as major of the First TN Vol. Infantry. There were also four grandsons in the Spanish-American War. Washington C. Whitthorne, the eldest son of the family, was an attorney by profession, and in addition to serving for 18 years as a representative in congress was for 2 years US Senator. William J. Whitthorne, Jr., the 9th child, was a prominent attorney of Columbia, and served in both branches of the state legislature.

Acquiring his preliminary education in the Shelbyville schools, Bromfield R. completed the course of study at Franklin College, and began his active career in Shelbyville, being first bookkeeper in a mercantile house, and later cashier in the National Bank. Reading law during his leisure minutes, he was admitted to the bar in 1899 and in addition to successfully practicing his profession has since filled various offices of trust and responsibility. For nine years Mr. Whitthorne filled the mayor's chair most acceptably to all concerned and when Shelbyville was under a commission form of government he was one of three commissioners who administered the affairs of the city. He was rendered excellent service as president and city judge, and in 1911 was elected justice of the peace for the 7th civil district.

Mr. Whitthorne married July 19, 1877, Juliet Shelby Ryall, a daughter of Colonel Thomas and Elizabeth (Seudder) Ryall. Into the pleasant household thus established four children have made their advent, namely; Elizabeth McClelland, Juliet, Bromfield R. Jr., and Rebecca Ryall. Elizabeth M. wife of Searcy W. Judd, has one child, Elizabeth Whitthorne Judd; Juliet married David A. Grayson.

Religiously Mr. Whitthorne belongs to the Christian church, while his wife and children are members of the Episcopal church. Fraternally Mr. Whitthorne is a thirty-second degree Mason. He is a member of Shelbyville Lodge # 122, Ancient Free and Accepted Order of Masons; of Tannehill Chapter, No. 40, Royal Arch Masons; of Murfreesboro Commandery, No. 10 Knights Templar; and of Alhambra Temple, Ancient Arabie Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine.

A History of Tennessee and Tennesseans by Will Thomas Hale and Dixon L. Merritt 1913
Find-A-Grave shows a birthdate of 1850

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