1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Parsons, Theophilus

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PARSONS, THEOPHILUS (1750-1813), American jurist, was born in Byfield, Massachusetts, on the 24th of February 1750, the son of a clergyman. He graduated from Harvard College in 1769, was a schoolmaster at Falmouth (now Portland), Maine, in 1770-1773, studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1774. In 1800 he removed to Boston. He was chief justice of the supreme court of Massachusetts from 1806 until his death in Boston on the 30th of October 1813. In politics he took an active part as one of the Federalist leaders in the state. He was a member of the Essex County convention of 1778, called to protest against the proposed state constitution, and as a member of the “Essex Junto” was probably the author of The Essex Result, which helped to secure the rejection of the constitution at the polls. He was a member of the state constitutional convention of 1770-1780, and one of the committee of twenty-six which drafted the constitution; he was also a delegate to the state convention of 1788 which ratified the Federal Constitution; and according to tradition was the author of the famous “Conciliatory Resolutions,” or proposed amendments to the constitution, which did much to win over Samuel Adams and John Hancock to the side of ratification. His Commentaries on the Laws of the United States (1836) contains some of his more important legal opinions.

His son Theophilus Parsons (1797-1882), who was Dane professor of law at Harvard from 1848 to 1870, is remembered chiefly as the author of a series of useful legal treatises, and some books in support of Swedenborgian doctrines; he wrote a life of his father (Boston, 1859).