Connecticut State Library with state seal

Memorials of Connecticut Judges and Attorneys
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports
volume 52, page(s) 596-598


EDWARD LE ROY CUNDALL was born in Killingly, Connecticut, March 9th, 1831. He died at his residence in Brooklyn, October 5th, 1885. Two brothers survive him, Rev. Isaac N. Cundall of Wisconsin, and Charles C. Cundall, M. D. of Fair Haven, Mass. He left a widow and two sons.

His educational advantages were limited - consisting chiefly of such as were afforded by the common schools and academies of that day. But the great school of human experience, in which human nature is taught and illustrated, and in which we acquire a practical knowledge of men and things, was open to him, and he improved his opportunities. The lessons there learned, and the discipline thus experienced, were more to him than college diplomas with high honors are to many men.

He studied law with Judges Foster and Carpenter, successively, and when admitted to the bar of Windham County he formed a co-partnership with the latter. In 1867 he was appointed State's Attorney for Windham County, and held the office six years, when he was appointed clerk of the Superior Court, which office he held at the time of his death. He was also a member of the present commission to revise the statutes.

He represented the town of Brooklyn in the lower branch of the General Assembly for the years 1857, 1865 and 1883, and was a member of the State Senate in 1864.

At an early age he became a member of the Congregational Church at Danielsonville, and ever afterwards sustained the character of a firm, conscientious and consistent Christian. Cant and ostentation were no part of his religion. He had a nobler conception of the duties and privileges of a religious life. The spirit of Christianity became a part of the man, not merely influencing but controlling his intercourse with his fellow men.

As a lawyer he was averse to the trial of causes. He had not those belligerent qualities, which, to a large extent, are essential to a successful advocate. He had a keenly discriminating mind. Few men could analyze the facts of a case and point out the questions on which it must turn as he could. He comprehended as by intuition the strong points of the other side, and no partiality for his client could blind him to the strength of the enemy's position. When the real merits of a cause were with the adverse party, his conscientiousness incapacitated him to a considerable extent from doing full justice to his own client. Early in his professional life his good sense led him to perceive these disadvantages, and to turn his attention to other branches of the profession.

As an office lawyer he was careful and accurate; as a counsellor he was safe and judicious, being much more inclined to settle causes and compose difficulties than to promote litigation. He would exhaust every reasonable effort for a peaceful adjustment whenever it involved no sacrifice of principle.

Virtue, morality and the welfare of the community in which he lived, were considerations of the first importance with him. The prospect of professional advancement, or of lucrative employment, never tempted him to espouse the cause of vice or immorality. In respect to all public questions of that character there was no uncertainty as to his position.

The following passage from the address of his pastor, Rev. Mr. Dingwell, at his funeral, gives the view of his character taken by one, not of his own profession, who knew him intimately: -

"He appears to me to have been a man familiar with the letter of the law, who knew what it enjoined, but yet still more anxious to work out its spirit; - a lover and observer of its forms and technicalities, but still in all his counsel and practice working towards equity and for the equities, in the special and general well-being of his clients and the community. Surely this is ennobling his profession. This is raising it to the dignity of a peace-maker. And our Lord has said, 'Blessed are the peace-makers.' He tried to teach men to discern between good and evil, and so lifted his profession to its highest plane. And in the accomplishment of this work he had a logical, penetrating, though slow and cautious mind. His mental processes were of the slow order, but when he had thoroughly considered a matter and had begun to move he always knew where he was going, and exactly how to get there; and seldom if ever was he obliged to retrace his steps. His counsel was safe, conservative, sound, and comprehensive of the subject in hand. He was more than a mere `attorney at law,' according to Blackstone's definition of attorney. It seems to me he had the larger, sounder, judicial type of mind. He could not only put himself in his client's case, but he almost always saw the judicial, the general or universal phase of the case. As a lawyer he loved to sift the right from the wrong and to unwind the meshes of criminal sophistries that so often get entangled in the web of human society. Thus I think we may see in our brother's legal career, how this much-maligned legal profession, in its daily work and demands, may connect a man with the right, the equities, the eternal justice and mercy, and with God himself.''