Cambridge Encyclopedia » Cambridge Encyclopedia Vol. 45

Lemuel Shaw

massachusetts law commercial

Judge, born in Barnstable, Massachusetts, USA. The son of a Congregational minister, he was educated at home and worked as a journalist while he read law. Admitted to the bar in 1804, he established a lucrative practice in Boston. As chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court (1830–60), his rulings on railroad, utility, and other commercial cases had a major impact on the development of the nation's commercial and constitutional law. In 1850 he presided over the sensational trial of Harvard professor John W Webster, convicted of murdering Dr George Parkman. Shaw's daughter married the novelist Herman Melville.

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