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Horace Gray, Jr., graduated from Harvard College in 1845 and from Harvard Law School in 1849. He was awarded honorary degrees from Harvard University in 1871 and from Brown University in 1882.
In 1854, Mr. Gray was appointed the Reporter of Decisions at twenty-six years of age. As Reporter, Mr. Gray produced clear, concise headnotes. They were the result of his close attention to, and accurate statements of, the cases decided. He produced sixteen volumes of reports, Gray 1-16. 182 Mass. 619 (1902).
At a memorial service in Mr. Gray's honor, the Commonwealth's acting Attorney General recalled him as an excellent Reporter. His superior performance was attributed to his keen memory. Mr. Gray read rapidly and comprehended each case's subject matter with ease. 182 Mass. 621 (1902).
Mr. Gray developed a reputation for being a serious and accomplished scholar. His notes were compared to textbooks, because they contained a large body of information and summarized the entire record of the previously adjudicated cases. He quickly understood the case issues and his reports revealed "wonderful lucidity and precision of statement." 182 Mass. 615 (1902). One such valuable case, Commonwealth v. Roxbury, introduced thought-provoking questions to the court. This case involved the developments that affected tidewater titles and proprietary rights in the Commonwealth's upland and foreshore regions. 182 Mass. 615 (1902).
In 1861, Mr. Gray retired from the office of Reporter. He then became an Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in 1864. He was thirty-six years old. In 1873, he was appointed Chief Justice. Mr. Gray went on to become an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court in 1882. Although Justice Gray's career concluded in Washington D.C., he remained fond of Boston. Born in Boston, Justice Gray was attached to his work for the Supreme Judicial Court. The record of his work as Reporter, Associate Justice, and Chief Justice have earned Justice Gray the acclaim of those who have read the decisions of the Supreme Judicial Court issued during the years 1854-1882.