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John Preston White (1832-1905)

Judge, Texas Court of Appeals, 1876-1879

John Preston White was born March 7, 1832, on his parents' plantation, Fruit Hill, near Abingdon, Virginia. His father died in 1838, leaving his mother with eight children. After attending local schools, White entered Emory and Henry College in Emory, Virginia at the age of fifteen, and graduated in 1850 at the age of eighteen. He entered the University of Virginia that year, studying philosophy and law. His education was interrupted when he became seriously ill, and when he recovered he completed his study of law in the Abingdon office of Samuel Logan. He was admitted to the Virginia bar in 1853 and was married the same year. He and his wife had a family that grew to include seven children.

In 1855 White brought his family to Texas, settled in Seguin, and began practicing law. When the Civil War broke out, he raised a company that became part of the Sixth Regiment of Texas volunteers. He was taken prisoner in Arkansas in 1863 and was held for several months. Following his exchange he returned to active service until war's end. Following the war he returned to Seguin and resumed his law practice.

White began some thirty years of public service in 1874, when Gov. Coke appointed him a district judge. In 1876, when the state's new constitution created the court of appeals, White was elected one of its judges. Three years later he became presiding judge following the death of M.D. Ector. He held the post until April 26, 1892, when he resigned from the bench and was appointed reporter of the court following the death of Sam A. Willson. He remained in the position until his death.

White authored several important legal publications, including Condensed Reports Regarding Decisions in Civil Causes (1883-92), Code of Criminal Procedure in the State of Texas (1900), and Penal Code of the State of Texas (1901). White, remembered by his peers as plain spoken, modest, and conscientious, died at his home in Austin on January 16, 1905 at the age of seventy-three.

*The Texas Court of Appeals became the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals September 22, 1891 under an amendment to Judiciary Article V of the State Constitution.

Sources

Thomas W. Cutrer. White, John Preston, Handbook of Texas Online (last updated June 6, 2001). http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/WW/fwh22.html

In Memoriam, 56 Texas Criminal Reports V-XII (1909).