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David A. Brearley (Updated: Jan. 4, 2010)
New Jersey


Signer, U.S. Constitution

NEW SOURCE, received via email January 4, 2010:

David was born June 11, 1745 at Spring Grove Farm (The Brearley Homestead) near Lawrenceville, NJ.

* He was elected Chief Justice of New Jersey on June 10, 1779, at age 34, an office which he held for 11 years, until 1789.

* In 1787, he was appointed a delegate to the convention which framed the United States constitution by the New Jersey legislature. He signed it, and afterwards, presided at a State convention which ratified it.

* In 1788, he was a presidential elector to elect General George Washington to the office of President of the U.S.

* In Nov. 1789, he resigned the office of Chief Justice to accept the office of Judge of United States District Court.

* From 1786 to 1790, he was Grand Master of State Masonic Order, and at Bridgeton, NJ, two Masonic bodies are now named after him, viz; Brearley Lodge No. 2 and Brearley Chapter No. 6. [These societies still exist in Bridgeton, Cumberland, NJ.]

* David was Colonel of Militia after the war until his death. He died Monday, Aug. 16, 1790 in Trenton. His funeral, which was on Wednesday a.m, Aug. 18, 1790 in Trenton, was complete with military and Masonic Honors. He is buried in the cemetery adjoining St. Michaelís Church, in Trenton, NJ.

Lois Brearley Jenks

NOTE: The info from Lois Brearley Jenks was consistent with Wikipedia on 01/04/2010.

I am a descendant of David A. Brearley, the "signer of the Constitution." The info you have listed on your ... site is incorrect. -- Lois Brearley Jenks

OLD SOURCE of (incorrect) information

David A. Brearley was born in New Jersey, about the year 1763, and at the age of eighteen he received the honors of Princeton College. [NOTE: The information about Brearley's birth and other information in this section may be wrong. Scroll down to NEW SOURCE.] On leaving that celebrated seminary, he commenced the study of the law, and in a few years stood foremost at the bar of his native State. In consideration of his distinguished talents as a lawyer and statesman, he was unanimously elected a member of the grand convention which met at Philadelphia, in 1787, for framing the constitution of the United States, and his name is affixed to that charter of our liberties.

In 1789 he was appointed by President Washington, chief-justice of the State of New Jersey, which office he held with distinguished honor to himself and his country until his death, which took place at his seat, near Trenton, August 23, 1790, in the twenty-seventh year of his age.

Mr. Brearley was cut off in the bloom of his powers, and when the highest hopes were entertained of his future usefulness. To have reached the position of chief-justice at the age of twenty-six years, was an almost unprecedented instance of the triumph of youthful genius, and sufficient of itself to inspire his friends with glorious anticipations. As an advocate he was always eloquent and forcible; and as a judge he was learned and impartial.

SOURCE: Marshall, James V. The United States Manual of Biography and History.
Philadelphia: James B. Smith & Co., 1856.
(Some minor spelling changes may have been made.)

[During the convention which drafted the new constitution, Georgia delegate William Pierce, and others for various reasons, left the convention before September and did not sign the new constitution. However, while in attendance Pierce made private notes on each representative.]

Pierce's notes.

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