-->

ALABAMA'S SUPREME COURT CHIEF JUSTICES

Robert C. Brickell

Robert Coman Brickell was born April 4, 1824, at Tuscambia, Colbert County, and died November 20, 1900, in Huntsville; son of Richard Benjamin and Margaret Williamson (Coman) Brickell; grandson of Robert and Sarah Jane (Prout) Coman, who emigrated from North Carolina and settled in Madison County.

 

Brickell attended school in Athens and at Nashville, Tenn. He read law under Judge Daniel Coleman at Athens for two years, and when he was nineteen years old, was admitted to the bar in the circuit court of Limestone County. He began to practice law, 1843, in Athens. In 1851 he moved to Huntsville; practiced with Septimus D. Cabaniss, and later in the firm of Walker, Cabaniss & Brickell, Gen. LeRoy Walker, later a member of the cabinet of President Davis and first secretary of war, C. S. A., being senior partner. In 1857, Mr. Cabaniss retired, and the firm became Walker & Brickell, continuing until 1873- when Judge Brickell was appointed an associate justice of the supreme court of Alabama. At this time the court was composed of Republican judges and the appointment was made by Gov. David P. Lewis, a Republican, although Judge Brickell was a strict Democrat. In 1874, he was elected justice, and the following year was chosen chief justice by the court. In 1880 he was elected chief justice by the Democratic party, and continued to hold that office until October 25, 1884, when he resigned and returned to Huntsville to resume his practice.

 

In 1889, he was appointed general council for the Decatur Land Company, and practiced law in North Decatur with C. C. Harris and John C. Eyster. He moved to Montgomery in 1891, and formed a partnership with Maj. H. C. Semple and Mr. Gunter, under the firm name of Brickell, Semple & Gunter. He was appointed chief justice of the supreme court March, 1894, by Gov. Thomas G. Jones, and served until 1898, when he declined reelection he returned to Huntsville, and in 1899, formed the law firm of Brickell & Brickell, with his son, Robert C. Brickell, who was admitted to the bar that year. This firm was terminated in 1900 by the death of Judge Brickell. He was author of Brickell's "Digest of the Decisions of the Alabama Supreme Court," first volume published in 1872, second in 1874 and third in 1888. The digest is dedicated to Judge Daniel Coleman, under whom Judge Brickell first read law. His decisions are embraced in forty-six volumes of Alabama Reports, beginning with Forty-ninth Alabama and ending with Seventy-ninth Alabama, commencing again with One Hundred Second Alabama, and continuing through One Hundred Twenty-second Alabama, and are quoted with approval by the highest courts throughout the Union. He was a States-rights Democrat, a Mason, and was elected a member of the American Social Science Association shortly before his death, which made him a member of the National Institute of Arts, Sciences and Letters.

 

Married: November 29, 1876, at Montgomery, Mary Blassingame, daughter of Robert James and Mary Caroline (Blassingame) Glenn, of Coosada, Autauga County, and of Marion; granddaughter of Mary Lewis of Virginia, a lineal descendant of Robert Lewis of "Belvoir," of Augustin Warner, and of Gov. George Reade, of Virginia. Mrs. Brickell, whose mother was a younger sister of Aurelia Blassingame, second wife of Gov. Fitzpatrick of Alabama, was reared by Mrs. Fitzpatrick after the death of her parents.

 

Children: 1. Robert Coman, attorney general of Alabama, Huntsville; 2. Benjamin Fitzpatrick, b. 1883, in Huntsville, d. 1886, in that place. Last residence: Huntsville.

 

Source:Thomas McAdory Owen, History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography. Chicago: S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1921.