William Coleman (judge)

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William Coleman (1704—1769) was a lawyer, municipal official, and judge in colonial Philadelphia.

Coleman was born in Philadelphia, where he was educated and studied law. His parents were Quakers; his mother, Rebecca, had arrived in the new colony of Pennsylvania as a child in 1683, and his father, also William Coleman, was a carpenter.

After he was admitted to the bar, Coleman held a variety of municipal offices, beginning as Town Clerk and Clerk of the City Court. He became a Judge of various local courts including the Orphan's Court, Court of Common Pleas, and Quarter Sessions. In 1758 he was appointed an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. He was also a merchant, in partnership with Thomas Hopkinson. He was also active in Philadelphia's emerging cultural institutions. By 1727 Coleman was a friend of Benjamin Franklin and member of Franklin's Junto. He was a founder and first treasurer of the American Philosophical Society, one of the first directors of the Philadelphia Contributionship, and an early supporter of Pennsylvania Hospital.

Coleman was also a founder of the College of Philadelphia (now the University of Pennsylvania, serving as the original clerk of the Board of Trustees, 1749–1755, and as its first treasurer, 1749–1764.

William Coleman married Hannah Fitzwater in 1738; the couple was childless, but Coleman adopted his nephew, George Clymer.

He died in Philadelphia in 1769.

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