Brooklyn Bar: Local Lawyers Reynolds- Britton 1872


The social position as a lawyer (and the phrase involves no paradox) so long held by Judge Greenwood, became the shadowy inheritance of Judge Reynolds, when the former gentleman retired from the active practice of his profession.

George G. Reynolds was born in Dutchess County, New York, in 1821, prepared for college at the American Seminary, entered the Wesleyan University at Middletown, Connecticut, in 1838, and graduated in 1841. Thence he went to Poughkeepsie, where he studied law for some time, preparing himself for his admission tot he bar, which took place in 1844, after a preliminary local study in Judge Dikemen's office, Brooklyn. Two years after, he was married. From Brooklyn Mr. Reynolds went back to Poughkeepsie, where he practiced law as the partner of Gilbert Dean, then a member of Congress and afterward a judge. In 1854 he returned to Brooklyn and entered into partnership with Richard Ingraham and Richard C. Underhill.

From the date of that partnership Judge Reynolds may be said to have acclimated himself in Brooklyn, and to have become a local feature. In business, the firm of Ingraham, Underhill & Reynolds, rapidly became a leading combination, and the name of the junior partner loomed up. In 1859 his name was placed on the Republican ticket for the position of Judge of the Supreme Court, but although he ran considerably ahead of his ticket, and the majority against him in this county was less than one thousand, the Democratic majority of the Supreme Court District was too much for him, and he was elected to stay where he was. In the following year, however, he ran against James Troy for the office of City Judge, and was elected by a handsome majority. The term of this office was then six years latterly it has been very much lengthened and at the end of it, in 1867, Judge Reynolds retired to his private practice, to which he has devoted his time ever since.

As a lawyer, Judge Reynolds is not of the impassioned order, and rarely enters the lists of criminal practice. His mind is calm, balanced and analytical, not magnetic or fervid. As a politician he has rather avoided than courted notoriety, and appears to dread the annoying excitement of a canvass. Last Fall it was gravely canvassed among the manages of the Republican party to put his name on the ticket for the Office of mayor, but Mr. Reynolds met that idea with a refusal so emphatic that to consider it longer was useless. "If I were elected unanimously," he said, "I should not serve." Before the formation of the Republican party, or rather before John C. Fremont's race for the Presidency, Mr. Reynolds was a Democrat, since then he has always acted with the Republicans in a liberal, but by no means in a blind party sense.

It may be remembered that in the Fall of 1870 Judge Reynolds delivered a powerful speech at the Brooklyn Academy6 of Music, against E.D. Webster as a Congressional candidate in the Third District. Since that time, with the exceptions of his connection with the Cincinnati Convention of the present month, he has eschewed politics altogether.

There are few men who can boast so many friends and so few enemies in the ranks of their own profession as can Judge Reynolds. He is universally looked up to in Brooklyn as a high minded, honorable gentleman, whose character and record do honor not only to himself and his name, but to the city he has adopted as his home.


The handsome, burly District Attorney, is a Massachusetts man, having been born in North Adams, of that State, in 1826. His family removed to Troy, New York, however, when he was ten years old, and here he graduated, at Union College, in 1848. Immediately afterward, he left for California in the first steamer that sailed for the Crescent City, his health being very poor. This was just about the time when the gold fever was at its height. While in San Francisco, (for a period of four years altogether,) he was elected a member of the Common Council and Board of Supervisors, and ran, but was defeated on the Democratic ticket for another local office. Mr. Britton returned to New York with his health thoroughly established, and declares with jovial complacency that he has never been sick a day since.

In April, 1853, he was married in Albany, and within six months after he was admitted to the bar, and came to New York City to practice. It is a singular fact, by the way, that almost all the lawyers of this city who have reached any degree of prominence have been admitted to the bar and married within a brief space of time. This would seem to argue the wisdom of a permanent settling down on the part of a young man who intends to make his name and fortune by the practice of an intellectual profession.

Another fact which Mr. Britton relates with equally jovial complacency is that during the first year of his residence in New York when he knew nobody his income from his law business did not amount in all to a hundred dollars, "And yet," he says, "I worked like a beaver." But business soon flowed in, and in 1855 he came to Brooklyn to live as the law partner of Mr. Ely, who is associated with him now, and who had been his classmate at the Law College. From that time until this, Mr. Britton has pursued the practice of his profession in peace, mixing very little in politics, and finding the even tenor of his life interrupted only last Fall by his election to the office of District Attorney, which he still holds.

As a politician, Mr. Britton's record has been equally smooth and uneventful. He was at one time a member of the "American" party, or Know Nothings, but disclaims having voted for the national candidate of that mushroom "party." He has not been an active participator in local affairs, but is a man of strong convictions and impulsive speech. Like a sensible man, he goes for Greeley, being convinced that locally and nationally the election of that gentleman is the only event which can save the Democratic party from utter demoralization.

Mr. Britton has been married twice, entering into the obligations of the wedded state for the second time in Brooklyn, in 1857.

Website: The History
Article Name: Brooklyn Bar: Local Lawyers Reynolds- Britton 1872
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


The Brooklyn Daily Eagle 5/23/1872
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