Harry Innes

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Harry Innes
A balding man wearing a black jacket and white shirt
A painting of Harry Innes by Matthew Harris Jouett
Associate Justice of the United States District Court for the District of Kentucky
In office
September 26, 1789 – September 20, 1816
Nominated byGeorge Washington
Preceded byNew office
Succeeded byRobert Trimble
Chief Justice of the Kentucky Court of Appeals
In office
Preceded byNew office
Succeeded byGeorge Muter
Personal details
Born(1752-01-04)January 4, 1752
Caroline County, Colony of Virginia
DiedSeptember 20, 1816(1816-09-20) (aged 64)
Frankfort, Kentucky, U.S.
Spouse(s)Elizabeth Calloway
Ann Shield
RelationsFather-in-law of John J. Crittenden
Alma materCollege of William and Mary

Harry Innes (January 4, 1752 – September 20, 1816) was the first United States federal judge in Kentucky.

Innes was born in Caroline County, Virginia, the son of the Reverend Robert Innes and Catharine (Richards) Innes. Innes attended Donald Robertson's school and the College of William & Mary. Innes was married twice, first to Elizabeth Calloway, with whom he had four daughters: Sarah, Katherine, Elizabeth, and Ann. After his first wife's death he married Ann Shield, with whom he had a daughter named Maria, who eventually married John J. Crittenden. The two also raised a daughter from her first marriage.

Innes was admitted to the bar in 1773, and worked briefly as a lawyer in Bedford County, Virginia. He worked in a variety of government jobs from 1776 until 1782, as an administrator for the Lead and Powder Mines, Blue Ridge Mountains, Virginia from 1776 to 1777, a land claims adjuster for Western Virginia from 1777 to 1780, and an escheator for Bedford County, Virginia from 1780 to 1782. In 1782, he was made an assistant judge of the Supreme Court of Judicature for the Kentucky District of Virginia. Innes' work as a judge still allowed him time to practice law, farm, and invest in real estate. He was also a trustee of Transylvania University. Innes resigned as presiding judge in 1784 after he was appointed Attorney General for the western district of Virginia, an office that he held from 1784 to 1789.

Innes was a member of eight of the ten conventions leading to the separation of Kentucky from Virginia, and was a vocal proponent of separation. He also served as president of the first electoral college which chose Kentucky's first Governor and Lieutenant Governor.

On September 24, 1789, President George Washington nominated Innes to be the first federal judge of the United States District Court for the District of Kentucky, created by 1 Stat. 73, and at the time still a part of Virginia. Innes was confirmed by the United States Senate on September 26, 1789, and received his commission the same day.

After Kentucky separated from Virginia, Innes was selected to be chief judge of the Kentucky Court of Appeals (then the state's highest court), but declined the appointment, remaining instead on the District Court. He was the only federal judge in Kentucky until the Judiciary Act of 1801 made what had been the Kentucky District Court a part of the new Sixth Circuit. In 1802 the Judiciary Act of 1801 was repealed and Innes was once again the judge of the District of Kentucky. He remained in office until his death on September 20, 1816, in Frankfort, Kentucky.


External links[edit]

  • Innes' biography at the Sixth Circuit website
  • Allen, William B. (1872). A History of Kentucky: Embracing Gleanings, Reminiscences, Antiquities, Natural Curiosities, Statistics, and Biographical Sketches of Pioneers, Soldiers, Jurists, Lawyers, Statesmen, Divines, Mechanics, Farmers, Merchants, and Other Leading Men, of All Occupations and Pursuits. Bradley & Gilbert. pp. 260–261. Retrieved 2008-11-10.
Legal offices
Preceded by
new seat
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Iowa
Succeeded by
Robert Trimble