Thomas Bard McFarland

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Cropped 1890 image of California Supreme Court Justice Thomas B. McFarland.

Thomas Bard McFarland (April 19, 1828 – 1908) was a miner, politician and judge in the U.S. state of California. He served as a state assemblyman, Superior Court judge, and associate justice of the Supreme Court of California.

Early years[edit]

McFarland was born in 1828 near Mercersburg, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Marshall College (1846) and soon thereafter studied law with his cousin, Robert M. Bard, in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. He was admitted to practice in 1849.[1]


Instead of commencing practice, however, he headed to California, arriving September, 1850, and was a gold miner for three years. He then opened a law office in Nevada City where he practice until 1861. During that time he served one term in the State Assembly, to which he was elected in 1856. In 1861, he was elected judge of the fourteenth district court, in which capacity he served for two terms. At the end of that time he retired from the bench, and commenced practice in Sacramento, which he continued for the next twelve years, except an interval during which he served as Register of the United States Land Office at Sacramento, accepting this position at the suggestion of Aaron A. Sargent. In 1879, McFarland served as a member of the convention which framed the existing Constitution of California. In 1882, he was appointed to fill a two-years vacancy upon the bench of the Sacramento County Superior Court by Governor George Clement Perkins; and in 1884 was elected for the full term. In 1886, however, he was elected for a full term as associate justice of the Supreme Court of California, whereupon he resigned his superior judgeship, and took his seat upon the bench of the Supreme Court in January, 1887. He sat continuously as an associate justice of the latter court up to the time of his death, a period of over 21 years. McFarland was originally a member of the Whig Party, but upon the organization of the Republican Party, joined it. He sat on the board of education of the city of Sacramento and was a trustee of Leland Stanford Junior University.[1]

Personal life[edit]

McFarland married Susie Briggs at Nevada City in 1861. Briggs' sister was married to Dr. Robert M. Hunt who was the first physician to practice medicine in that town, and was a charter member of the California Medical Society.[2] The McFarlands had one child, Jennie.[3]


  • This article incorporates text from a work in the public domain: California. Supreme Court's "Reports of Cases Determined in the Supreme Court of the State of California" (1909)
  • This article incorporates text from a work in the public domain: Lewis Publishing Company's "A Memorial and Biographical History of Northern California: Containing a History of this Important Section of the Pacific Coast from the Earliest Period of Its Occupancy to the Present Time" (1891)
  • This article incorporates text from a work in the public domain: O.T. Shuck's "History of the Bench and Bar of California: Being Biographies of Many Remarkable Men, a Store of Humorous and Pathetic Recollections, Accounts of Important Legislation and Extraordinary Cases, Comprehending the Judicial History of the State" (1901)