Connecticut State Library with state seal

Memorials of Connecticut Judges and Attorneys
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports
volume 36, page(s) 588-590


JOHN HALL BROCKWAY died at Ellington, in Tolland County, the place of his birth, and where he had always resided, on the 29th of July, 1870, in the seventieth year of his life. In early life he was somewhat distinguished for his love of books and aptness to learn. He entered Yale College at the age of sixteen years, and graduated at the age of twenty years, with a creditable standing in his class. He read law in the office of Seth P. Staples, Esq., of New Haven, and with him and in the law school at New Haven, then under the charge of Mr. Staples and the late Judge Hitchcock, he completed his professional studies, and was admitted to practice in the courts of this state in New Haven County in April, 1823.

He commenced the practice of law in his native town, and soon became known throughout the county, and had his full share of the business in the courts. He possessed many of the qualities that go to make up the successful lawyer. His mind was active and his perceptions acute; his judgment was sound, and his conclusions, though rapidly formed, were generally correct. He excelled in the argument of questions of fact to the jury. He was an easy, pleasant speaker, and always seemed to have the power to express his ideas in pure English without apparent effort. He seldom indulged in mere declamation, but had a faculty of presenting his cause in an attractive form, and, where the case admitted of it, with a constant flow of humor that secured the attention of his hearers.

Mr. Brockway never felt that his duty to his clients consisted solely in the trial of their cases. He made their interests his own, and where he became convinced that their interests would be promoted by a settlement he would labor to effect that result. Few lawyers in the state have amicably adjusted a greater proportion of their cases. He sympathized deeply with his clients, and when he thought they were in the right he would be exceedingly grieved by an adverse decision.

He was a great favorite with his brethren and the court. He always seemed to enjoy their society and it is certain that his presence contributed very much to their enjoyment. His genial temperament and quaint humor made him the life of their circles, and secured for him their kindest regard. The younger members of the profession regarded him as a friend, and one to whom they could look for any aid in his power to bestow.

Mr. Brockway served in both branches of the General Assembly of this state, and was twice elected to the House of Representatives in the Congress of the United States. He served as State Attorney for the county of Tolland nearly eighteen years, and until his health had become so much impaired that he felt it his duty to resign. It is sufficient here to say that he discharged the duties of these several positions creditably to himself and to the entire satisfaction of the public.

He united with the Congregational Church in Ellington in the year 1827. He was a constant attendant on public worship on the Sabbath, and a teacher in the sabbath school, and was seldom absent from other stated and occasional services of the church. He was well versed in the doctrines of the different denominations and accepted those that are usually called orthodox, but was never bitter or censorious towards those who could not fully adopt his views.

In all the relations in life, he acted well his part. As a husband and father he was affectionate, devoted and faithful; as a friend he was firm, unselfish and constant; as a citizen he not only bore his share of the burdens of life with cheerfulness, but he was ready to aid in all proper ways such enterprises as were intended to ameliorate its evils. Having spent a useful and somewhat active life, his name will go down to posterity honored and respected.