Connecticut State Library with state seal

Memorials of Connecticut Judges and Attorneys
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports
volume 58, page(s) 594-595


William Russell Cone, the oldest member of the Hartford city bar, died at Hartford on the 10th day of January, 1890. He was born in East Haddam in this state on the 23rd day of June, 1810. His father was Joseph W. Cone, a prosperous farmer and prominent citizen of that town. The son prepared for college first under Rev. Isaac Parsons of East Haddam, and later in the grammar school at Hartford, and entered Yale College in 1826, graduating in 1830. He then studied law in the Yale Law School under Chief Justice Daggett and Prof. Hitchcock, and after being admitted to the bar formed a partnership with William Hungerford of Hartford, a native of East Haddam, then regarded as the most learned lawyer in the state and with the largest practice in our highest courts. To the firm thus formed Mr. Cone brought a rare vigor of mind and great industry, and soon became noted for the thoroughness of his preparation of the cases committed to it. He took special charge of the business of the firm, leaving mainly to Mr. Hungerford the argument of its causes in court. The firm of Hungerford & Cone became a famous one and had for a quarter of a century the largest and most important and lucrative practice in the state. In 1860 the partners retired from practice, with handsome fortunes, though the partnership continued in the ownership of property until Mr. Hungerford's death in 1873.

After his retirement from practice Mr. Cone devoted himself to the care of his own large financial interests, and to others which were entrusted to him. He always had the public confidence as a man of integrity and trustworthiness, as well as of sound practical judgment and sagacity, and his counsel in financial matters was regarded as of great value. He was from its organization a director of the Aetna Bank and from 1869 to 1887 its president. He was also a director in the Aetna Fire Insurance Company, the Hartford Carpet Company, the Security Company, and the Connecticut River Railroad Company, and a trustee of the Society for Savings; also president of the board of managers of the Retreat for the Insane, of the trustees of the Watkinson Library, and of the Wadsworth Atheneum. He had been associated with other important institutions but in his later years had been inclined to limit the calls upon his time and strength.

Mr. Cone had no liking for public life and would never accept a nomination to political office. He had also declined a seat upon the Superior Court. He had been from his early residence in Hartford a member of the Center Congregational Church in that city.

Mr. Cone married in 1833 Rebecca D. Brewster, the daughter of James Brewster, then a prominent carriage manufacturer of New Haven, and a direct descendant of the Elder Brewster of New England history. She died four months after his death. There are three surviving children - James B. Cone of Hartford, who graduated at Yale College in 1857, Henrietta, wife of the Rev. Louis A. Lanpher, an Episcopal clergyman settled in Wethersfield in this state, and Alice, wife of the Rev. A. Delgarno Robinson, a clergyman of the English Church.