John Currey

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John Currey
John Currey.jpg
8th Chief Justice of California
In office
Preceded by Silas Sanderson
Succeeded by Lorenzo Sawyer
Personal details
Born October 4, 1814
Westchester County, New York
Died December 18, 1912(1912-12-18) (aged 98)
Dixon, California
Political party Democratic

John Moore Currey (October 4, 1814 – December 18, 1912) was the eighth Chief Justice of California, and candidate for Governor of California in 1859.

Born in Westchester County, New York in 1814, John Currey died in Dixon, California in 1912. He attended Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut (class of 1842).[1][2][3][4]

He came to California in 1849, eventually settling down in Benicia, Solano County, California where he established a successful law practice. Among his clients was Juan Manuel Vaca, owner of a large tract of land, a Mexican land grant near the present-day city that bears his name: Vacaville, California.

In 1850 and 1852, Millard Fillmore nominated him to be a district court judge in California, but both nominations were unsuccessful; the Senate voted to reject the first nomination and took no action on the second.[5]

In 1859 the Anti-Lecompton Democratic Party selected Currey as their candidate for Governor of California. The rival faction at the time Lecompton Democrats chose Milton Latham as their candidate. The Republican Party ran its first California gubernatorial candidate in 1859, businessman and railroad tycoon, and later Governor Leland Stanford.

Despite the Democratic party split in California in the 1850s and the surge of new Republican Party's candidate in the campaign, Latham won the election garnering sixty percent of the vote.

Despite being defeated in his run for Governor, Currey would find other promising opportunities for office. In 1863 several vacancies on the Supreme Court opened the door those aspiring to serve on the state's highest court. The departed justices included the sixth Chief Justice Stephen Johnson Field who was appointed by President Abraham Lincoln to the U.S. Supreme Court (becoming the first Californian serve on the high court).

Running as a "union" party candidate at the height of the American Civil War, Currey was elected to the Supreme Court of California, taking his seat on the court in January 1864. At the time justices served two-year terms. After his first term as associate justice, Currey became Chief Justice in December, 1866. (He was defeated in his re-election bid, for the newly established ten-year term, by associate justice Augustus Rhodes and therefore succeeded as Chief Justice by Lorenzo Sawyer).

Having served four years on the court, two as chief justice, Currey resigned to his home in San Francisco. When the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire left him homeless he move to his estate north of Dixon, California in Solano County, in the Sacramento Valley.

There, with his sons, Montgomery Scott Currey and Robert Spencer Currey, he lived out his last years.

Legal offices
Preceded by
Silas Sanderson
Chief Justice of California
Succeeded by
Lorenzo Sawyer


  1. ^ Ward, George Kemp (1910). Andrew Warde and his descendants, 1597-1910: being a compilation of facts... A.T. De La Mare Publishing Company. p. 506. Retrieved 2011-11-12. 
  2. ^ Bancroft, Hubert Howe; Oak, Henry Lebbeus; Nemos, William; Victor, Frances Fuller (1890). "History of California Volume VII 1860-1890". The Works of Hubert Howe Bancroft Volume XXIV. The History Company. p. 235. Retrieved 2011-11-12. 
  3. ^ "Southern New York-Book 2 - part 116". American History and Genealogy Project (AHGP). Retrieved 2011-11-12. 
  4. ^ "Full text of "Alumni Record of Wesleyan University, Middletown, Conn"". Retrieved 2011-11-12. 
  5. ^ "Unsuccessful Nominations and Recess Appointments". Federal Judicial Center. Retrieved February 3, 2017.