Connecticut State Library with state seal

Memorials of Connecticut Judges and Attorneys
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports
volume 17, page(s) 50-51


This was the last case* argued by Mr. Hitchcock in this court. I had collected some facts and dates for a biographical notice of him, to be inserted here; I have since met with one, embracing the same facts and dates, already prepared, which I am happy to avail myself of, for this purpose. It is contained in The Law Reporter for November, 1845, vol. 8. no 7. p. 836.

Samuel Johnson Hitchcock was born of worthy parents in an humble condition of life, at Bethlem, in Connecticut, in February, 1786. His childhood was favored with no superior opportunities for intellectual cultivation. His father was poor. and required his assistance in the mechanical business by which his family was to be supported, and was unable to educate him or assist in his education. But he so well improved his privilege of attending the common schools, that at fourteen he was employed to teach for the winter in a neighboring parish. He afterwards received gratuitous instruction from Dr. Azel Backus, the minister of the pariah, and by teaching school in the winter, he was at last, in the autumn of 1806, just as he was coming of age, enabled to enter the sophomore class in Yale-College. He was graduated, with the most distinguished honor among his class-mates, in 1809. He was obliged to pursue the business of a teacher, for some years afterwards, in order to pay off the debts which he had contracted. He was four-years a tutor in Yale-College. He selected the legal profession as the employment of the remainder of his life, and in 1815, having been admitted to the bar of the New-Haven county court, he established himself in New-Haven, as a counsellor at law. He pursued the business of his profession with diligence and success. His habits of business were in the highest degree methodical; his judgment was clear and sound; and his manner of speaking ready and fluent, though not brilliant. His manners were unobtrusive and retiring; but his talents. learning, industry and integrity won for him a high rank in the profession. Some five or six years after his admission to the bar, he began to be a professed teacher of the science and practice of the law. His connection with the law school in New-Haven gave it a great reputation, and his pupils have everywhere been loud in his praise. He avoided office rather than sought it, and declined a seat on the bench of the superior court of the state, because he deemed his acceptance of that honor incompatible with his duties in other relations. When he had modestly withdrawn himself from the bar, he consented to serve the state, for a while, upon the bench of the county court for the counties of New-Haven and Hartford. As mayor of the city, and afterwards, as a recorder under the altered charter, he presided in the city court. His influence in society, and especially upon the growth and prosperity of New-Haven, was strong and beneficial. He was a consistent Christian, and for nearly twenty-nine years was a devout and constant communicant in the Centre Church of New-Haven, of which, in 1833, he was chosen a deacon. He died, at his residence in New Haven, on the 31st of August, 1845 in the sixtieth year of his age.

* The Enfield Toll Bridge Company against The Hartford and New-Haven Rail-Road Company, 17 Conn. 40