Connecticut State Library with state seal

Memorials of Connecticut Judges and Attorneys
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports
volume 55, page(s) 602-603


Joshua Beal Ferris was born at Greenwich, Conn., January 13th, 1804. After attending the common schools of his native town he was at a very early age, placed under the tutelage of the Rev. Daniel Smith, who for forty years was the pastor of the First Congregational Church, at Stamford, with whom he remained until he entered Yale College, in 1819, at the age of fifteen years.

After pursuing the usual course of study at that institution he graduated therefrom with high honors in 1823, and immediately thereafter opened a preparatory school for boys at Stamford, and continued to teach with great success until 1833. Sometime after Mr. Ferris commenced teaching he began the study of the law with Hon. Charles Hawley, who at that time and long afterwards was one of the most prominent lawyers of western Connecticut. He continued his studies with Mr. Hawley until he was admitted to the bar in 1829, but did not commence the practice of his profession until 1833.

Soon after he commenced practice he took a high stand in the profession, at a time when the Fairfield County Bar was celebrated for the brilliancy and eminence of its members, and continued in successful practice until a short time prior to his death, which took place June 8th, 1886, being a period of more than fifty years.

Mr. Ferris represented the town of Stamford in the lower house of the General Assembly in the years 1838 and 1839, and the 12th Senatorial District in 1840 and 1841 in the upper house, and again in 1849 and 1850, and during the last year he was elected president pro tem. of the last named body. In the national election of 1849 he was elected one of the presidential electors, and cast his vote for Gen. Taylor and Millard Fillmore for President and Vice President of the United States.

He was Judge of the Court of Probate for the District of Stamford by legislative appointment from 1838 to 1842, and held the office of State's Attorney for Fairfield County during the years 1847, 1849, 1851, 1854, 1855, 1859 and 1860.

The standing of Mr. Ferris among his professional brethren was that of a shrewd, painstaking and careful lawyer, an able advocate, a safe and judicious counselor, seldom venturing upon hazardous experiments, but always pursuing a course eminently safe and practical.

His courteous demeanor and unaffected politeness rendered his companionship pleasing, and eminently qualified him to enter the conflicts of his profession in a manner better calculated to soothe and win than to overawe by force and severity. One of his chief characteristics was his uncommon ability to read human character, which, coupled with his politeness and urbanity, gave him great power over others, and enabled him to become a leader and manager of men.

During his long professional career he was engaged in many important and difficult cases, which he managed with great skill and success.

Mr. Ferris married Miss Sally Ann Peters of Stamford in 1823, who died about two years before his own death, to whom he was most tenderly and devotedly attached.

In his home and family and among his neighbors he was ever held in the highest esteem, and regarded as a kind and indulgent husband and father, a good neighbor, and a strictly honorable and high-minded gentleman. Of his religious opinions he was somewhat reserved, seldom making known his convictions on religious subjects, and then only to his most intimate acquaintances and friends. He was a regular attendant, during his long residence in Stamford, at St. John's Episcopal Church in that place.