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REEVE, Tapping, Judge [1744-1823] -- American lawyer, educator and jurist

Relationship to me: 2C10 (by marriage)
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He founded an important and influential law school in Litchfield, CT -- some say it was the first in America -- and the American Cliosophic Society, which dates its origin back to 1765. He was once indicted (eventually dismissed) for libelling President Thomas Jefferson.

REEVE, Tapping, jurist, was born in Brookhaven, L.I., in October, 1744; son of the Rev. Abner Reeve, a minister of Long Island, and afterward of Vermont, who lived to be one hundred and four years old, preaching his last sermon when one hundred and two years of age.

He was graduated from the College of New Jersey, A.B., 1763, A.M., 1766; taught school at Elizabeth, N.J., being joint headmaster of a flourishing institution, 1763-67, and at the same time was a tutor to Aaron and Sarah (children of the Rev. Aaron) Burr. He was a tutor at the College of New Jersey, 1767-70; married Sarah Burr in 1771, when she was seventeen years of age; studied law with Judge Root, and in 1772 established himself in practice in Litchfield, Conn.

Owing to his wife's invalidism he could not take up active service in the Revolutionary war, although an ardent patriot. In December, 1776, however, he was appointed by the Connecticut assembly a member of the committee (as was Oliver Ellsworth, his classmate at college) to go through the state and rouse the people to aid the desperate Continental army by enlistment. He himself took a commission as an officer, and got as far as New York with the new volunteers, when the news of the battles of Trenton and Princeton, and Washington's altered fortunes reached him, [his services no longer being required,] he immediately returned to his invalid wife.

In 1784 he founded a law school in Litchfield, in which he was the only instructor till 1798, when James Gould became associated with him, the school of Reeve and Gould becoming the most prominent of its kind in the country.

His wife died, March 30, 1797, leaving one son, Aaron Burr Reeve, born Oct. 3, 1780; graduated at Yale, 1802; married Annabella Sheldon of New York, Nov. 21, 1808; settled as a lawyer at Troy, N.Y., and died there, Sept. 1, 1809, leaving a son, Tapping Burr Reeve, who died at Litchfield, Aug. 28, 1829, age 20 years, while a student at Yale. Annabella Reeve, after the death of her first husband, married David T. Burr of New Haven, and removed to Richmond, Va.

Judge Reeve was married a second time in 1799, and this wife, who survived him, had no children.

The best biographical sketch of him is found in the funeral sermon preached over him by his pastor, the Rev. Lyman Beecher, ¤ and published in the Christian Spectator for 1887, pp. 62-71. He died in Litchfield, Conn., Dec. 13, 1823. BDNA



A judge of the CT superior court
Honorary LL.D. conferred by Middlebury college
Honorary LL.D. conferred by the College of New Jersey
Chief justice of the Supreme court of the state of CT

Selected Works

  • Essays on the Legal Import of the Terms, Heirs, Heirs of the Body Issue, Etc.
  • The Law of Baron and Femme (1816; 2d ed., 1846; 3d ed., 1862)
  • Law of Guardian and Ward (1816)
  • Law of Master and Servant (1816; 2d ed., 1862);
  • Law of Parent and Child (1816)
  • Treatise on the Law of Descents in the United States of America (1825)
  • Bookmarks (off-site links)

    Bookmarks:2007-06-13 06:39:06


    • Father-in-law: ¤BURR, Aaron, Rev. [1716-1757] American clergyman and educator

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    An engraving by George Catlin¤


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