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Gould, James (1770-1838) | Litchfield Historical Society

Name: Gould, James (1770-1838)

Historical Note:

James Gould (Dec. 5, 1770 - May 11, 1838), jurist, born at Branford, Conn., where his great-grandfather, Dr. Richard Gould of North Taunton, Oakhampton, Devonshire, had settled about 1700, was the son of William Gould, a well-known physician of that town, by his second wife, Mary Foote, widow of Timothy Johnson. His early education was obtained in the common schools, under the heavy handicap of defective eyesight. Strenuous application, however, enabled him in 1787 to enter Yale College, where he graduated in 1791 with high honors. He then became a school-teacher in Wethersfield, Conn., and later in Baltimore, Md., but returned to Connecticut early in 1793 and entered the law office of Judge Chauncey at New Haven. In September of that year he accepted a position as tutor at Yale. In 1795 he resumed his legal studies, entering the law school which Tapping Reeve [q.v.] had established in 1784 at Litchfield. In 1798 he completed the course and was admitted to the bar. The same year the appointment of Reeve as a judge of the superior court of Connecticut rendered it necessary for him to seek assistance in the tutorial work and management of the law school, which he had hitherto conducted alone, and at his request Gould became his colleague, at the same time continuing to practice. For a number of years they remained thus associated, and when Reeve finally withdrew in 1820 Gould assumed sole charge. In politics a Federalist, he was in May 1816 appointed a judge of the superior court and court of errors. In 1818 a new constitution was framed which involved a complete change in the court system, and as a consequence he was retired from the bench in the following year. He did not resume active practice but devoted his energies henceforth to the affairs of the law school, continuing to lecture until growing physical infirmity compelled him to close the school in 1833.

-- H. W. Howard Knott

Sources: "James Gould."Dictionary of American Biography Base Set. American Council of Learned Societies, 1928-1936.

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