Theron Metcalf


Theron Metcalf graduated from Rhode Island College in 1805 with honors. He then attended Litchfield Law School in Connecticut in 1808. Later, Mr. Metcalf was awarded honorary degrees from Brown University in 1844 and from Harvard College in 1848.

In 1839, Mr. Metcalf was appointed as Reporter of Decisions. His colleagues noted that his reports were "clear, exact, and concise".1 During his time as the Reporter, Mr. Metcalf collected a near complete library of all the Supreme Judicial Court's reports and commentaries. He revealed to a close associate that he read them in their entirety.

Mr. Metcalf took careful notes and his reports of decisions were, "the model and the despair of his successors." The notes he took as Reporter became a valuable tool for his successors. He also proved himself well-versed in legal principles and rules of pleading. Justice Horace Gray noted that Mr. Metcalf embraced the spirit of the "sages of the law," 119 Mass. 604 (1875).

Mr. Metcalf's legal experience began when he was admitted to the Norfolk County bar before the Court of Common Pleas in 1808. Beginning in 1817, he served as a Norfolk county attorney for twelve years. Before Mr. Metcalf was appointed Reporter of Decisions, he was a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1831, 1833, and 1834. He also served in the State Senate in 1835. In each of those years, he was chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary, 119 Mass. 601 (1875).

Mr. Metcalf's legal literary contributions include the Annotations of Yelverton, published in 1820; editions of English textbooks, most notably "Starkie on Evidence"; an Essay on Contracts in American Jurist; the first volume of the United States Digest; Reports of Decisions of the Supreme Judicial Court; and his opinions written during the seventeen years he served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court, 119 Mass. 604 (1875).

Mr. Metcalf also published "Principles of the Law of Contracts with Examples of Their Application." These were articles that attracted a great deal of attention and commendation from the legal community, 119 Mass. 602 (1875).

Mr. Metcalf served as the Reporter of Decisions until he was appointed an Associate Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court in February, 1848.


1 Reno, Memoirs of the Judiciary and the Bar of New England for the Nineteenth Century with a History of the Judicial System of New England, The Century Memorial Publishing Co., Boston, MA, 1901.

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The Reporter of Decisions makes true reports of decisions upon all questions of law argued by counsel before the Supreme Judicial Court and the Appeals Court, and prepares them for publication, in print and electronic form, with suitable headnotes, tables of cases, and indexes.

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