Frederick Lincoln Siddons
Frederick Lincoln Siddons (November 21, 1864 – June 19, 1931) was a United States federal judge.
Siddons was born in Highgate, Middlesex (now part of London) on November 21, 1864, and baptized on January 11, 1865 at St Michael’s, Highgate. He was the eldest of three children of Joachim Hayward Stocqueler, and Mary Agnes Cameron of New York. The parents were not married until 1870.
Joachim Hayward switched between his real surname (Stocqueler) and the imaginary one, suggesting that he was the illegitimate son of George John Siddons, whose mother was the actress Mrs Sarah Siddons. There is no evidence to support this, but it is typical of Joachim’s behavior. For example, when Frederick Lincoln was baptized his father called himself James Henry Siddons, and Mary Agnes used the same surname, despite their marriage being recorded as Stocquelers. Six years after the baptism, in the 1871 London census, the family were all recorded as Stocquelers!
Frederick Lincoln Siddons arrived in the United States with his parents and sister on June 18, 1875, after his father decided to leave England. They lived at first in New York but, a year or so later, his father accepted a position at the University of Virginia as licentiate professor. That did not work out as expected and so, a year later, Joachim, then more than 75, left to accept a position at the Episcopal High School at Alexandria. That venture did not succeed either, and so, at 15, Frederick Lincoln was forced to become the primary breadwinner for the family. He secured a job as messenger in the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, in Washington, D.C. Siddons made good progress in the next five years, but was forced to leave, along with many others, when President Cleveland reduced the size of the Bureau.
Siddons decided to go to Chicago, eventually finding a job as a bank messenger. While carrying out menial tasks, his mind was on the theater, his first love. His searches finally resulted in an offer from a theatrical company in Canada, from whom he received a contract. That same day, though, he received a telegram from his mother announcing that his father was dying. He sent the unsigned contract back to the theatrical manager and hurried off to Washington.
After his father died in 1886 Frederick Lincoln’s mother and sisters were totally dependent on him for support. Fortunately, he had taken one year of law at Columbian University in D.C., during his final year at the Bureau. An old family friend kindly gave him financial support to complete the course and Siddons graduated LL.B. in 1887 and LL.M. in 1888. He also worked for the United States Department of the Treasury that year.
Siddons was naturalized in Washington, D.C. on March 18, 1889. The following year he joined forces with Jackson H. Ralston (1857-1945), a former printer, to form the Washington law firm of Ralston and Siddons; the city directory shows that in 1896 they were based at 5th Street, NW. Ralston later became an eminent lawyer in his own right.
Siddons married Harriet Charles van Auken in Alexandria, VA on April 28, 1892. They had two children, and not three as is sometimes mentioned: Mary Elizabeth, born in 1893, and Frederick Philip Heyward, born in 1895.
He was a member of the Commission on Uniform State Laws for the District of Columbia, and in 1913 became a Commissioner for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. On December 9, 1914, Siddons was nominated by President Woodrow Wilson to a seat on the United States District Court for the District of Columbia vacated by Daniel Thew Wright. Siddons was confirmed by the United States Senate on January 15, 1915, and received his commission the same day. He served until his death, in Washington, D.C.
Siddons’ career developed rapidly. He was appointed Professor of Law at National University in 1898, and named as the first Vice-President of the Commercial Law League in 1902; he became its President a year later.
Siddons was a member of the Commission on Uniform State Laws for the District of Columbia, and in 1913 became a Commissioner for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. On December 9, 1914, Siddons was nominated by President Woodrow Wilson to a seat on the United States District Court for the District of Columbia vacated by Daniel Thew Wright. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on January 15, 1915, and received his commission the same day, serving until his death, in Washington, D.C. In 1927, Justice Siddons was involved in declaring a mistrial at one stage of the Teapot Dome affair, “the largest scandal in the U.S. government since the administration of President Ulysses S. Grant.”
Justice Siddons died on June 19, 1931 in Washington, D.C. and was buried two days later; his burial place is not known.
- Frederick Lincoln Siddons at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
- Commercial Law Journal (55 Com. L. J. 290 (1950), http://heinonline.org/HOL/LandingPage?handle=hein.journals/clla55&div=103&id=&page=)
- The Lawyer and Banker and Southern Bench and Southern Bar Review, 468 (1914) (http://heinonline.org/HOL/LandingPage?handle=hein.journals/lbancelj7&div=125&id=&page=)
- The Washington Post, Sunday, July 27, 1913