Some description of the four great lawyers of Staunton, who are mentioned in the early part of the preceding chapter as cotemporaries, will not be out of place here.
Major Sheffey, as he was called, is described by persons who remember him, as a short, stout man, very near-sighted, having a decided German accent in his speech, and a habit of twirling his watch seal while addressing a court or jury. His extraordinary ability was universally conceded. He was a native of Frederick, Maryland, and originally a shoemaker. Settling in Wytheville to pursue his trade, he studied law, and soon became distinguished at the bar, in the Legislature, and in Congress. His home at Staunton was at the place called Kalorama. He died in 1830.
Mr. Johnson was a native of Louisa county, and was educated at William and Mary College. He was a tall and portly man. His features were regular and handsome, and his countenance was benignant. He always dressed well, and as he rode on horseback to and from his country seat, Bearwallow, every beholder recognized him as a man of mark. His speeches in court were long and loud, but always very able. He died in 1849.
Mr. Peyton was born in Stafford county, and educated at Princeton College. He, like Mr. Johnson, was tall, large and erect, and dressed neatly. He also rode on horseback to and from Montgomery Hall, a mile west of town. His speeches were never very long, and never wearied the listener. As a prosecuting attorney he was considered unrivaled. To many persons he probably appeared haughty; but to those he approved of, however young or ignorant, he was very genial and kind. He died in 1847.
General Baldwin,—so called till he was elected a judge of the Supreme Court of Appeals,—was born in Frederick county, and educated at William and Mary College. His residence at Staunton was at Spring Farm, less than a mile from his office. He was a large man, of rather ungraceful figure, and very indifferent about his costume, though not slovenly. He rarely appeared on horseback, but generally walked to and from town, carrying his papers in a green bag, and apparently absorbed in thinking over some important matter. He was a man of great benevolence, and in his private circle of friends distinguished for his affectionate disposition. He was considered an eloquent speaker, but was more eminent as a writer. His popularity in the county was unbounded. He died in 1852. He was major-general of militia.
All these distinguished lawyers were adherents of the Episcopal church.
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Edited Annals of Augusta County,Virginia, from 1726 to 1871 copyright © 2006-2017 by EagleRidge Technologies, Inc..