Alabama Secretaries of State

James Innes Thornton


Secretary of State: 1824-1834


James Innes Thornton, planter, Secretary of State, was born October 28, 1800, at "Fall Hill," Spotsylvania County, Va., and died September 13, 1877, in Greene County; son of Francis and Sarah (Innes) Thornton; and brother of Harry Innes Thornton. He was educated at what is now Washington and Lee University, and emigrated to Huntsville, where he entered the practice of law in 1820, in partnership first, with Hon. H. W. Collier, and later with his brother.


He was elected Secretary of State of Alabama in 1824, and was kept in that position by successive re-elections until 1834, when he resigned. During his incumbancy of office as Secretary of State, Gen. LaFayette, the guest of the nation, visited Alabama and Mr. Thornton was deputed by the governor to meet him at the boundary line between Alabama and Georgia as escort. Abandoning the profession of law at the same time, he retired to private life and devoted himself to planting in Greene County.


Married: (1) in 1825, to Mary Ann Glover, who died a few years after the marriage, daughter of Allen and Sarah (Norwood) Glover; (2) in 1831, to Ann Amelia Smith of Virginia, who died August 2, 1864, daughter of George and Delia Smith; (3) in 1870, to Mrs. Sarah Williams Gowdy, who died August 24, 1885, daughter of William P. and Eliza W. Gould. Children by first marriage: 1. daughter, d. in early childhood; 2. Mrs. Lidell, deceased; by second marriage: 3. Jean Stirling, d. in infancy; Delia Frances, d. December 9, 1910, m. Capt. J. McHee; 5. James Innes, d. December 12, 1837; 6. Fitzgerald, d. July 6, 1839; 7. George Francis, surgeon with rank of major, C. S. Army, physician at San Francisco, Calif., d. August 15, 1893, m. Susan Adeline Perrin; 8. Catherine Marshall, d. October 27, 1870, m. Col. Harry I. Thornton; 9. Innes, d. September 30, 1878, m. Col. W. N. Brown; 10. Butler Brayne, d. May 24, 1905, m. Col. Murray F. Taylor; 11. Harry Innes, private, Seventh Alabama Cavalry, C.S. Army, planter at McAlpine, m. Sallie Amelia Blocker, children, John Blocker, lawyer at Mobile, m. (1) Adele Ketchum Inge, (2) Fannie S. Smith, and Harry Innes, jr., clerk in quartermaster department, U.S. Army, appointed 1898, in civil service, U.S. government. Last residence: Greene County.


Owen, Thomas McAdory, History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography. Spartanburg: The Reprint Company Publishers, 1978 (1921), IV, 1670.