Memorials of Connecticut Judges and Attorneys
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports
Volume 75, page(s) 734-735


ELLIOTT BENJAMIN SUMNER, the oldest practicing lawyer in Windham county, died at his home in Willimantic, Connecticut, October 14th, 1900, in the 67th year of his age.

His father, Deacon William Sumner of Tolland, was of Puritan ancestry, and his mother, Anna Washburn, was a descendant of one of the early settlers of the Hartford Colony.

Elliott Benjamin, the youngest of nine children, was born in 1834, at Tolland, then the county seat of Tolland county and its most important town. His early education was obtained in its district schools, supplemented by a course of two years' study at Wesleyan Academy, Wilbraham, Mass. He then commenced the study of law in the office of the Hon. Loren P. Waldo of Tolland, then the foremost lawyer of the county and subsequently a judge of the Superior Court. In 1854, while studying law, he was elected and served as assistant clerk of the Connecticut House of Representatives. In 1857 he opened a law office in Willimantic, where he soon acquired a good practice which continued uninterruptedly until his final illness. In 1871 he represented the 24th senatorial district in the State Senate, but gave little attention to politics thereafter.

Mr. Sumner was ambitious in his profession, and indefatigable in the discharge of its duties. No client could ever complain of any neglect of his interests. Diligent in the preparation of his cases, he studied with great care and research not only the law upon which he relied in a legal contest, but also every legal principle he could conceive of, in support of his opponent's side of the case.

As an advocate he was neither eloquent nor brilliant: he made no attempt at oratory; his style was simple and unaffected, without embellishment of any kind, but in plain, well-chosen language he always addressed himself to the good sense, innate love of justice, and fair dealing of the trier.

As a counselor he was excellent. His thorough knowledge of law, his grasp of legal principles, and his love of judicial research, secured for his opinions the confidence of his clients, and made him an authority with his brethren of the bar.

In his intercourse with his professional brethren he was companionable, kind and obliging; always ready to assist, and particularly the younger members of the profession. He was especially strong in his personal likes and dislikes; never forgetting a friend and never seeking to placate those who manifested an unfriendly spirit toward him.

He was twice married, his first wife being Miss Sarah Farnham, by whom he had two children: Florence A., now Mrs. Thomas Southward, and a son, William A. Sumner. His second wife was Miss Mary Farnham, who with his two children survive him.

For more than twenty-five years he was united with the Baptist church of 'Willimantic, and remained a respected member thereof until his death.