About the Biographies

For deceased judges, each entry includes dates of service beginning with the date the judge took the oath of office (the term qualified is sometimes used) if known, or the beginning of the court session when the judge first sat. Unless otherwise noted, these dates are based on Judges of the Supreme Court of Virginia, compiled by The Hornbook of Virginia History for the Encyclopedia Virginia. To compile this list, researchers relied primarily on the Virginia Reports, the official record of court opinions, and the court order books, available at the Library of Virginia.

Also included is a short biography with date and place of birth and death, date of appointment or election, the circumstances that created the vacancy, the circumstances of the judge or justice’s departure from the court, information about other judicial service, education, professional career, military service in a war, and a portrait or likeness of the judge, when possible. (For more information on the history of laws governing selection of judges, see A short history of the Supreme Court of Virginia.) Sources consulted are listed in an end note for each entry.

Audio recordings and transcripts of oral history interviews of retired justices, 2007-2011, are also included.

Two judges included in the directory were elected to the court, but never sat: James Pleasants, Jr. (1769-1836), elected in 1811; and Lucas Powell Thompson (1797-1866), elected in 1866.


Special thanks to Kelly Parrish, Domestic Violence Program Specialist, Department of Judicial Planning; the Department of Judicial Planning, and the Washington and Lee School of Law, for sharing resources gathered for The Supreme Court of Virginia: Historical Portraits of the Justices, 1799-2011, published by the Department of Judicial Planning, Office of the Executive Secretary, in 2010 (now out of print). The publication of this guide made it possible to create an online directory illustrated with the portraits.

Several individuals provided additional research assistance in the compilation of the online directory. Sincere thanks to Meghan A. Townes, Visual Studies Collections Registrar, and Audrey McElhinney, Senior Rare Book Librarian, Library of Virginia; the knowledgeable staff of reference archivists at the Library of Virginia; Cecilia Brown, Special Collections Archivist, University of Virginia Law Library; Lisa S. McCown, Senior Special Collections Assistant, Washington and Lee Leyburn Library; John Jacob, Archivist and Special Collections Librarian, Washington and Lee Law Library; Susan Riggs, Manuscripts and Rare Books Librarian, Swem Library, College of William and Mary; Suzanne Corriell, Associate Director for Reference, Research and Instructional Services in the Muse Law Library, University of Richmond; and student interns from the VCU Department of History and George Washington University internship programs.