Bio Sketch of Judge John Treat Irving



John Treat Irving, first Judge of the Court of Common Pleas, was born in New York City, May 26th, 1778, in the quaint, gabled house his father had erected on Vandewater Street. His father, William Irving, was a native of Kirkwall, the capital of the Orkney Islands, and of good lineage. He followed the calling of a navigator, and for many years sailed on vessels engaged in trade between the ports of New York and Falmouth, England. In Falmouth, he met and married Sarah Sanders, a woman of rare beauty and charm of character, and two years later, in 1763, finally settled in New York City, where he established himself in trade on William Street, midway between Fulton and John Streets. He was a man of great decision, of a stern type of piety and sense of duty almost puritanical, and exerted a strong disciplinary influence over his sons. During the Revolution his fervid patriotism exposed him to
numerous dangers and difficulties, and at one time he was compelled to take refuge in New Jersey.

His son John, like his other brothers, was sent to private schools in the neighborhood of his home for the city was small then and thinly settled and was admitted to Columbia College.

Being graduated in 1798, he immediately took up the study of law, in which his marked natural ability and devoted hard work soon gained him a conspicuous position. He was also active in public affairs and during 1816-17 was a member of the State Assembly.
Appointed in 1821 a Judge of the Court of Common Pleas, he served as First Judge, both in title and in chronological order, till his death in 1838, in all seventeen years. He was possessed of literary ability, and in his earlier years contributed extensively to the columns of the Chronicle, edited by his brother, Washington Irving, gaining considerable reputation by his poetical attacks on political opponents. The claims of his profession, however, occupied his time and attention in later years. From 1818 until his death he was a trustee of Columbia. He was a regular attendant, and for many years a vestryman, of Trinity Church, New York.

In his personal character he was of unflinching integrity and great refinement. He enjoyed the respect of the community and was a recognized leader in public affairs. Judge Irving's wife was Abby Furman, daughter of Gabriel and Sarah (Wall) Furman, whom he married April 28th, 1806. Judge Irving died at his home, 37 Chambers Street, New York, March, 15th, 1838. Upon his death a marble tablet with his bust, in relievo, and a suitable inscription was placed in the Court room. His son, John Treat Irving, his grandson, the son of John Treat Irving, Cortlandt Irving, are to-day practicing members of the bar. Another son, Mr. George Irving, acted as one of the secretaries on the occasion of the final proceedings of the Court on December 3oth, 1895.

In his introduction to the first of E. D. Smith's Reports, Chief Justice Charles P. Daly says of Judge Irving: "Asa Judge, he was in many respects a model for imitation. To the strictest integrity and a strong love of justice he united the most exact and methodical
habits of business. Attentive, careful, and painstaking, few Judges in this State ever have been more accurate, or perhaps more generally correct in their decisions.  While presiding at nisi prius, he was not what would be termed a quick-minded man; but when questions were argued before him in bane, he bestowed so much care and considered each case so attentively that his judgments were rarely reversed, and were uniformly treated by the Courts of Revision with the greatest respect."

Website: The History
Article Name: Bio Sketch of Judge John Treat Irving
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


 BIBLIOGRAPHY: History of the Court of Common Pleas of the City and County of New York with Full Reports of All Important Proceedings by James Wilton Brooks, LL.D of the New York Bar-New York 1896
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