KENT, James (1763-1847), American jurist, born in Fredericksburgh, NY, and educated at Yale College (now Yale University).
He was admitted to the bar in 1785 and practiced law at Poughkeepsie, NY, from 1785 to 1793. During this period he was twice elected to represent Dutchess Co. in the state assembly. In 1793 Kent was appointed one of two masters in chancery in New York City, and in the same year he became the first professor of law at Columbia College (now Columbia University).
In 1796 Kent was again elected to the state assembly, and in 1798 he was appointed judge of the New York Supreme Court. He became chief justice in 1804 and held that position until 1814, when he was appointed chancellor of the New York Court of Chancery.
As chancellor he handed down decisions that influenced the development of US equity jurisprudence. He resigned in 1823 to devote himself to the teaching of law at Columbia. His lectures there constituted the basis for his four-volume work, Commentaries on American Law (1826-30).
"Sunday, December 12, 1847, at half past eight o'clock in the evening, in the eighty-fifth year of his age, James Kent was buried with pomp in New York City. His body was subsequently taken up and removed to Saint Luke's churchyard at Matteawan (now Beacon) in Dutchess County where his wife was laid beside him.
Here on a marble slab the following inscription
In Memory of James Kent
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
Chancellor of the State of New York
Born July 31, 1763
died Dec. 12, 1847
and Elizabeth Bailey his wife
Born Sept. 10, 1768
Died June 19, 1851.
source: Horton, John Theodore JAMES KENT: A STUDY IN CONSERVATISM, Da Capo Press, New York, 1969, p. 325
(Thanks to Chip Insinger)
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