Biography of Alanson Borden
Bristol County, MA Biographies

ALANSON BORDEN was born in the town of Tiverton, R. I., near to the Massachusetts line (now in the latter State), on the 7th of Janu ary, 1823. His father was Isaac Borden, who was a farmer, as was also his grandfather and earlier ancestors, all being of English descent. His mother was Abby Borden, a member of a different fam. ily and not related. When he was nine years old his father and grandfather removed with the family, to Venice, Cayuga county, N. Y.; where they lived many years, the father and mother, however, finally returned to Massachusetts, and both died in New Bedford. Down to the time of the removal of the family to New York State, Alanson attended the school near his home, and after the removal he attended the district schools until he was seventeen years old, when he entered the Academy at Groton, N. Y. A few months later he changed to the Aurora (Cayuga county) Academy, which he attended about two years. It had been his cherished intention to go through college, and during a period of teaching after leaving the Aurora Academy, he began preparation for his college course; but a combination of circumstances rendered it impracticable for him to carry out his plans, and his further educational advantages were restricted to one year in an academy at Ithaca, N. Y., which he left with an excellent academic education, which was much enhanced by subsequent private study.

In 1846 Mr. Borden went to live in New Bedford, resolved to enter the legal profession. He began his studies in the office of Elliot & Kasson and remained there two and one half years, when he was adrnitted to the bar and at once opened an office. He has ever since practiced here, though very much of his time and talent has been given to the duties of public office. He was appointed special justice of the Police Court in 1856, and resigned the office in 1859; then he was elected to the State Legislature, serving in that body two years, with the approval of his constituents. Following this he accepted the office of trial justice for juvenile offenders, which was established in New Bedford by special statute. In 1864 he was appointed judge of the City Police Court and held the office until 1874, when all of the police courts of the county were abolished and the county was divided into three districts with a judge for each. Judge Borden received the appointinent for the Third District, embracing the city of New Bedford, and the towns of Dartmouth, Westport, Fairhaven, Acush net and Freetown. In the fall of 1864 he became the law partner of the late Judge Robert C. Pitman, and this connection continued for several years, and until the appointment of Judge Pitman to the bench of the Superior Court. In 1876 Judge Borden was elected to the mayoralty of the city and gave his constituents an excellent administration. He has been a member of. the school board for many years and was its chairman three years.

Judge Borden has been three times married and is now a widower. His first wife was Mary C. Topham, daughter of Capt. Wm. H. Topham, of New Bedford. His second wife was Mary F. Kent, daughter of George Kent, of Washington, D. C. His third was Annie R. Cornmerford, daughter of Patrick Commerford, of New Bedford. His children are a son and a daughter by his first wife. The son, William A. Borden, is now in charge of the library of the Young Men's Institute, in New Haven, Ct. The daughter, Laura E., is the wife of Charles H. Lobdell, of New Bedford. Judge Borden has always been especially attached to his home, finding his chief happiness in the family circle around his own fireside. It is very largely from the beneficent and inspiring influences of his domestic life that he attributes whatever measure of success he may have attained in his public career.

The career of Judge Borden has been for many years a moral force in the life of his adopted city. He has been deeply interested in the questions of the day and prominent always in those reforms having for their aim the well being of men, and his influence has seemed largely independent of his official position.

He will, however, at least by his professional brethren and by public men, be best remembered as the judge of the local court of New Bedford and its vicinage. To the bench he brought a thorough knowledge of the principles and practice of law, a fondness for legal research, a sound judgment and a rare kindliness of manners. Few criminals could run the gauntlet of his cross examination, but heavy fines and long confinements were always held in disfavor, and if there was a gleam of hope of reformation, Judge Borden was always the first to detect it.

During the administration of Judge Borden as mayor, every municipal service was raised to its highest efficiency and politics as an incident to such service was almost entirely obliterated.

In professional practice since his retirement from the bench in the summer of 1897 Judge Borden's attention has been given mainly to cases in the probate and insolvency courts, and in the settlement of estates his counsel and assistance are always in request. He is at this time president of the New Bedford Bar Association.

Our county and its people
A descriptive and biographical history of
Bristol County, Massachusetts
Prepaired and published under the auspices of
The Fall River News and The Taunton Gasette
With assistance of Hon. Alanson Borden
The Boston History Company, Publishers, 1899.

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