John Birdsall

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For the 1880s New York state senator, see John Birdsall (1840–1891).

John Birdsall (1802 Greene, Chenango County, New York – July 22, 1839 Houston, Republic of Texas) was an American lawyer and politician from New York and Texas.


He was the son of Maurice Birdsall (1774–1852) and Ann (Pixley) Birdsall (1778–1829). He married Ann Whiteside (1805–1833), and then Sarah Peacock (1816–1895).

He was admitted to the bar, and practiced in Mayville, New York.

He was Judge of the Eighth Circuit Court from 1826 to 1829.

He was a member of the New York State Assembly (Chautauqua Co.) in 1831.

He was a member of the New York State Senate (6th D.) from 1832 to 1834, sitting in the 55th, 56th and 57th New York State Legislatures. He resigned his seat on June 5, 1834.

In 1837, he removed to Houston, then the capital of the independent Republic of Texas, and resumed the practice of law there. The same year, he was appointed Attorney General of the Republic of Texas. In November 1838, he was appointed by President Sam Houston as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Texas, to fill the vacancy caused by the death of James Collinsworth, but the Texas Congress did not confirm the appointment, and instead elected Thomas Jefferson Rusk a few days after Houston left the presidency. Neither Collinsworth nor Birdsall ever convened the Supreme Court, the first session was held in January 1840, with Rusk as Chief Justice.

Afterwards he resumed the practice of law in partnership with Sam Houston, but died a few months later, and was buried at the Glendale Cemetery in Houston.

New York State Treasurer Alvah Hunt was Birdsall's brother-in-law.


  • The New York Civil List compiled by Franklin Benjamin Hough (pages 129f, 138, 210, 259 and 356; Weed, Parsons and Co., 1858)
  • Texas in 1837 ed. by Andrew Forest Muir (1958; pg. 216)

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
William B. Rochester
New York State Circuit Courts
Eighth District

Succeeded by
Addison Gardiner
New York State Senate
Preceded by
Timothy H. Porter
New York State Senate
Eighth District (Class 1)

Succeeded by
Chauncey J. Fox
Legal offices
Preceded by
Peter W. Grayson
Attorney General of the Republic of Texas
Succeeded by
Algernon S. Thurston
Preceded by
James Collinsworth
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Texas
Succeeded by
Thomas Jefferson Rusk