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Richardson A. Scurry (1811-1862)

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Associate Justice, Supreme Court of the Republic of Texas, 1840-1841

Richardson A. Scurry was born November 11, 1811 in Gallatin, Tennessee, the eldest of five children. His father was a lawyer, and Scurry apparently received a privately tutored education, after which he studied law under a Tennessee judge. He was admitted to the bar around 1830 and began practicing law in Covington, Tennessee.

Like other young Tennesseans, Scurry was drawn by the promise of adventure to join a group of men headed to Texas to fight for Texas independence. He arrived in time to fight in the battle of San Jacinto and earned the rank of first lieutenant for his bravery and good conduct. When he left the Texas army in October 1836, he settled in Clarksville, practiced law, and served in various leadership roles in the Texas Republic.

He was secretary of the Senate of the First Congress in the fall of 1836, and by the end of the first session that fall, President Sam Houston had appointed him district attorney of the First Judicial District. The Congress of the Republic elected him judge of the Sixth Judicial District on January 20, 1840, automatically making him an associate justice of the supreme court. He held the post until February 5, 1841, when he resigned to become district attorney of the Fifth Judicial District.

In 1843 Scurry married; he fathered nine children. Following his marriage he served as a member of the House of Representatives of the Seventh and Eighth Congresses (1842-44), serving as speaker of the House of the Eighth, and was elected to the House of Representatives of the Thirty-second United States Congress in 1851. In 1853 he returned to law practice near Hempstead in Austin County. In 1861, Scurry was appointed adjutant general in the Confederate army.

Scurry had accidentally shot himself while hunting in the summer of 1854; the wound had never healed, and eventually his leg was amputated. He never recovered from the surgery and died on April 9, 1862. He was buried at Hempstead.

Notable opinions

Austin v. Sawyer, Dallam 445 (Tex. 1841) (affirming injunction against defendant for recovery of judgment upon finding that no lien existed since debt was discharged in administration of estate).

Guest v. Guest, Dallam 394 (Tex. 1841) (awarding new trial to plaintiff on grounds that non-suit must be rendered by party bringing suit and thus cannot be compelled by the court).

Knight v. Huff, Dallam 425 (Tex. 1841) (reversing judgment upon finding that offset in estate administration and cattle purchase claims should be allowed since conforms with intent of contracting parties).

Sources

Ericson, Joe E. Judges of the Republic of Texas (1836-1846) 252 (Dallas, Texas: Taylor Publishing Co., 1980).

Kemp, L. W. Scurry, Richardson A., Handbook of Texas Online (last updated June 6, 2001). http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/SS/fsc36.html

Lynch, James Daniel. The Bench and Bar of Texas 178-182 (St. Louis, Missouri: Nixon-Jones Printing Co., 1885).

Extended bibliography

Dixon, Samuel Houston and Louis Wiltz Kemp. The Heroes of San Jacinto 84 (Houston, Texas: The Anson Jones Press, 1932).

Lynch, James Daniel. The Bench and Bar of Texas 178 (St. Louis, Missouri: Nixon-Jones Printing Co., 1885).

1 Year Book for Texas 374. Cadwell Walton Raines, compiler (Austin, Texas: Gammel Book Co., 1901).

Thrall, Homer S. A Pictorial History of Texas 615 (St. Louis, Missouri: N. D. Thompson & Co., 1879).

Additional information available in Southwestern Historical Quarterly as follow:
Volume 31, page 74, 381
Volume 34, page 71, 184, 341
Volume 35, page 319
Volume 36, page 218, 220
Volume 37, page 140, 221
Volume 38, page 59, 214
Volume 40, page 127
Volume 49, page 377n, 378
Volume 60, page 17
Volume 63, page 412n
Volume 67, page 123
Volume 73, page 183

4 Biographies of Leading Texans 677. Archives Division, Texas State Library (Austin, Texas).

Brown, Frank. Annals of Travis County and of the City of Austin 22:12. Archives Division, Texas State Library (Austin, Texas).