Biography of Judge Torrey E. Wales
Chittenden County, VT Biographies





WALES, JUDGE TORREY E. Torrey E. Wales was born in the town of Westford, in Chittenden county, on the 20th day of June, 1820. His father, Danforth Wales, a native of Brimfield, Mass., at an early age went to Pittsford, Vt., and served an apprenticeship in the clothier's trade. From there he came to Westford in about the year 1808, when he had attained the age of twenty three years. Owing to his energy and practical business talents, he soon built up a large and successful business as a cloth dresser, and became also the proprietor of the grist and saw mills on Brown's River. He achieved prominence in the various affairs of the town, and held several of the most important offices within the gift of his townsmen, serving several terms as their representative. He died at the age of sixty five years. His first wife was Lovisa Sibley, of Westford, who shared with him the hardships that attend the course of a pioneer in a country so reluctant in the distribution of rewards as was Western Vermont in early days, and became the mother of the subject of our notice. After her death Danforth Wales again married, the fruit of the second marriage being a daughter, now Mrs. Charles Kimball, of Westford.

Torrey E. Wales passed his boyhood days in preparing, as well as he could in the schools of his native county, for a collegiate course of study; and with such success that he was graduated from the University of Vermont in the class of 1841. He then entered the law office of Asahel Peck, subsequently justice of the Supreme Court and governor of the State, and, after devoting the necessary time to the study of law, was admitted to practice in the courts of Chittenden county at the spring term of 1845. Choosing Burlington as his future home, he opened an office at the head of Church street, and patiently waited for briefs. He was not long permitted to be idle, however, and by virtue of his thorough acquaintance with the principles of law, and his natural equipment in common sense, which is the power of successfully applying principles to facts, he built up a good practice. He continued alone until about 1857, when he formed a copartnership with Russell S. Taft, then lately a student in his office, and now an honored justice of the Supreme Court of the State. This relation subsisted for the unusual period of twenty one years, being finally dissolved in 1878. The next partnership was formed in the spring of 1882, by the admission of George W. Wales to an interest in the business, and the firm name of Wales & Wales was adopted.

Judge Wales has always been a consistent and unswerving member of the Republican party, though he has not by any narrow and bitter partisanship attempted to rise at the expense of others. His diligence and abilities have been abundantly recognized by those who have had the best means of knowing him. He was elected State's attorney in 1853, and held the office three consecutive years. He was chosen the second mayor of the city, and remained in that office for two years (1866 and 1867), and in 1870 served as acting mayor in the place of D. C. Linsley, mayor elect, whose business called him away from Burlington immediately after his election. Judge Wales was also one of the members of the board of aldermen in the years 1869, 1870, and 1871, resigning in the latter part of the last mentioned year. He was again elected alderman in 1874. In the years 1883 and 1884 he served as city attorney. Besides the several positions he has been placed in a number of the minor offices, and in 1868, 1869, 1876, and 1877 represented the city in the Legislature. The office for which he has shown the greatest aptitude, that of judge of probate, was given him in the year 1862, since which time he has not been allowed to retire, but has been kept in the office continuously for nearly twenty four years.

On the 3d of February, 1846, he married Elizabeth C. Mason, of Burlington. Mrs. Wales died on the 12th of April, 1886, leaving one son, George W. Wales, who was born on the roth of July, 1855. He was graduated from the University of Vermont in the spring of 1876, when he had reached the same age at which his father was graduated from the same institution. In the Congressional sessions of 1876 and 1877 he acted as private secretary to Senator Morrill, and in 1878 and 1879 held the same position with Senator Dawes. In the spring of 1882 he was admitted to the Chittenden county bar, and at once entered into copartnership with his father. From 1882 to 1884 he was secretary of civil and military affairs under Governor Barstow.

From:
History of Chittenden County, Vermont
Edited by: W. S. Rann
D. Mason & Co., Publishers
Syracuse, New York. 1886


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