Joseph Coerten Hornblower

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Joseph Coerten Hornblower (May 6, 1777 – June 11, 1864)[1] was an American lawyer and jurist from Belleville, New Jersey. He was the Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court.


Hornblower was born in Belleville, New Jersey and lived there for his entire life. His parents were Josiah and Elizabeth (née Kingsland) Hornblower. Josiah Hornblower was a prominent engineer and mine operator who served in the Continental Congress. As a child, Joseph’s health was poor, so he was educated at home. But he read for the law with an attorney in Newark and was admitted to the bar in 1803.

He became a prominent lawyer and politically active as a member of the Democratic-Republican Party. However, this was the Era of Good Feelings, and party politics were minimal.

When Hornblower was a Presidential elector for James Monroe in 1820, there was only one vote for any other candidate. He also supported other civic and religious activities. In 1816 he was one of the founders of the American Bible Society. In 1845 he aided in establishing the New Jersey Historical Society and served as its president from then until his death in 1864.

In 1832 Hornblower was named to the state's Supreme Court as its Chief Justice. He was re-elected in 1839 and served until 1846. When New Jersey rewrote the state’s Constitution in 1844, he was an active member of the convention. When he stepped down from the bench, he became a professor of law at Princeton Law School and returned to his interest in political activity.

Hornblower's political interests became directed toward the nascent Republican Party. He was vice-president of the Philadelphia convention that nominated John C. Fremont for U.S. President.


Joseph died at home in Belleville, New Jersey on June 11, 1864. He was survived by his daughter Mary, who had married Joseph P. Bradley in 1844, a future Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, and by his son William Henry Hornblower, a Presbyterian minister whose daughter Emily married Colonel Alexander McWhorter Cumming, a long-serving Mayor of Princeton, New Jersey.


  1. ^ "Joseph Coerten Hornblower". Find A Grave. Retrieved September 21, 2010.