Biography of Hon. James M. Troutt
San Francisco, CA Biographies





HON. JAMES MORRIS TROUTT
Coming to San Francisco during the formative period in its history, Hon. James Morris Troutt spent practically his entire life in this city and for many years was dean of its superior judges and a commanding figure in legal circles of this part of the state. He was born in Roxbury, now a part of Boston, Massachusetts, December 20, 1847, a son of Hiram J. M. and Cordelia (Sherman) Troutt. The father, a native of Ohio, sought his fortune in the gold fields of California in 1849 and in March, 1850, located in San Francisco. The following year he returned to the east but in 1852 again came to California, being accompanied by his wife. Their children remained in the east until 1853, when James Morris Troutt and his sister were brought to California.

The son obtained his early instruction in San Francisco and was among the first pupils in the old school at Bush and Stockton streets. Removing with the family to Portland, Oregon, in 1859, he pursued his education in the public schools of that city for four years, and after his return to San Francisco attended the old City College. Later he took a classical course in Harvard University, from which he was graduated in 1871 with the Bachelor of Arts degree, and among his classmates there were Henry Cabot Lodge, who became United States senator from Massachusetts, and Charles Jerome Bonapart, former attorney general of the United States. While at college Judge Trout was one of the founders of the Signet and served as president of the Pierian sodality, which was organized in 1808.

Returning to San Francisco, he read law in this city and also attended lectures in the east. In August, 1874, he was admitted to the bar by the supreme court of California and immediately afterward engaged in general practice, in which he was notably successful. In 1877 he formed a partnership with Ramon E. Wilson, now deceased, becoming senior member of the firm, and was next associated with Judge James C. Cary, who joined him in the practice of law in 1881. The following year the consolidated republican conventions nominated Judge Troutt for the superior bench with Judges Waymire, Allen and Columbus Bartlett, but the party lost everywhere in California in that campaign. In 1885-6 Judge Troutt was first assistant district attorney of San Francisco and capably discharged the duties of that office. In 1890 he was appointed to the superior court bench to complete the unexpired term of Judge Thomas K. Wilson, taking his seat on December 19 of that year. Successive reelections kept him on the bench for thirty eight years, or until 1928. He was the city's veteran jurist and during his long tenure of office became widely known as the "marrying judge," performing thousands of ceremonies. In 1892 he was elected presiding judge, succeeding Judge William T. Wallace. Judge Troutt wore the ermine worthily, endeavoring at all times to deal justly and fairly with his fellowmen. His comprehensive legal learning and wide experience in the courts, the patient care with which he ascertained the facts of every case brought before his tribunal, gave his decisions a solidarity and exhaustiveness to which no member of the bar could take exception. He presided as judge in the Fair will case, which was one of the most celebrated will contests of this kind ever tried in San Francisco, and in which it was decided that the petitioner, Nettie R. Craven, was not the widow of James G. Fair. The name of Judge Troutt was also associated with other litigation of an important character and throughout the period of his service as a jurist he was the stern conservator of that justice to which life and property, right and liberty must ever look for protection. Leaving the bench at the age of eighty one, he plunged again into private practice but failing health compelled him to relinquish his professional activities and he passed away January 12, 1931, in his home at 666 Post street. On that day all departments of the superior court of San Francisco adjourned out of respect to his memory.

Judge Troutt was married April 29, 1890, to Miss Lucinda A. Kendall, a native of Brooklyn, New York, and a daughter of Samuel Davis Kendall, who became well known in San Francisco as a civil engineer and surveyor. Mrs. Troutt spent her early life in Amherst, Massachusetts, and came to California with her parents, making her home for a time in Pasadena, whence she removed to San Francisco, where she still resides.

A thirty second degree Mason, Judge Troutt was identified with Oriental Lodge, No. 144, F. & A. M.; San Francisco Chapter, No. 9, R. A. M.; California Council, No. 2, R. & S. M.; California Commandery, No. 1, K. T.; San Francisco Consistory, No. 1, A. A. S. R.; and was also a noble of Islam Temple of the Mystic Shrine. He likewise had fraternal affiliations with the San Francisco Pyramid of Sciots; San Francisco Aerie, No. 5, of the Order of Eagles; Presidio Lodge, No. 334, of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows; and Fidelity Lodge of the Ancient Order of United Workmen. On attaining his majority Judge Troutt became a republican and thereafter remained a steadfast adherent of the party. He belonged to the Harvard and Cosmos Clubs and to the San Francisco and California State Bar Associations. In every relation of life he conformed his conduct to a high standard and not only won a large measure of professional success but the esteem and admiration of all who knew him. A contemporary historian wrote of Judge Troutt: "He was a man of broad humanitarian spirit, congenial in nature, and liberal in his support of philanthropic work. His unfeigned cordiality won for him a circle of friends almost coextensive with the circle of his acquaintance. Few men were more familiar with the history of San Francisco, where he made his home largely from early boyhood. Judge Troutt was allied with those interests which make for a broader development and a higher civilization. He studied closely the signs of the times and the questions of vital significance, and with the passing years his influence became more and more weighty and potent as a factor in promoting public progress and improvement."

From:
The History of San Francisco, California
Lewis Francis Byington, Supervising Editor
Oscar Lewis, Associate Editor
The S. J. Clark Publishing Company
Chicago-San Francisco 1931


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