1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Shaw, Lemuel

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SHAW, LEMUEL (1781-1861), American jurist, was born at Barnstable, Massachusetts, son of the minister of the West Parish there, on the 9th of January 1781. He graduated from Harvard College in 1800, and was admitted to the bar (of New Hampshire and of Massachusetts) in 1804. In 1805 he began to practise law in Boston. He was a prominent Federalist and was a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1811-1814, in 1820, and in 1829, and of the state Senate in 1821-1822, a delegate to the state constitutional convention of 1820-1821, and chief justice of the Supreme Court of the state from 1830 to 1860. He died in Boston on the 30th of March 1861. As chief justice Shaw maintained the high standard of excellence set by Theophilus Parsons. He presided over the trial in 1850 of Professor John White Webster (1793-1850) for the murder of Dr George Parkman. His work in extending the equity, jurisdiction and powers of the court was especially notable. He was also largely instrumental in defeating an attempt (1843) to make a reduction of salary apply to judges already in office, and an attempt (1853) to abolish the life term of judges. His opinion in Cary v. Daniels (8 Metcalf) is the basis of the present law in Massachusetts as to the regulation of water power rights of riparian proprietors.

See the address by B. F. Thomas in Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, x. 50-79 (Boston, 1869); and the sketches by Samuel S. Shaw and P. Emory Aldrich in vol. iv. pp. 200-247, of Memorial Biographies of the New England Historic Genealogical Society (Boston, 1885).