William Brockenbrough (judge)

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William Brockenbrough
William Brockenbrough.jpg
Justice of the Virginia Supreme Court
In office
February 20, 1834 – December 10, 1838
Personal details
Born(1778-07-10)July 10, 1778
Tappahannock, Virginia
DiedDecember 10, 1838(1838-12-10) (aged 60)
Richmond, Virginia
Spouse(s)Judith Robinson White
Alma materCollege of William and Mary
OccupationLawyer, judge, politician

William Brockenbrough (July 10, 1778 – December 10, 1838) was a Virginia lawyer, political figure and judge of the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.


Brockenbrough was born in Tappahannock in Essex County, Virginia, United States, the son of Dr. John Brockenbaugh and Sarah Roane. He attended the College of William and Mary in 1798. He studied law and then went into private practice. In 1802-03 he represented Essex County in the House of Delegates and became a member of the Council of State in May, 1803. His judicial career started when he was appointed as a judge of the general court on February 7, 1809. On February 20, 1834, he was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court of Appeals but died just four years later.

In 1806, he married Judith Robinson White and became the father of John White Brockenbrough. According to family history, Dolley Madison said, "as a friend I find Mrs. Judith Brockenbrough unequalled." In 1814, following the burning of Washington by Admiral Cockburn, she and Dolley Madison saved what valuables they could from the White House before taking refuge at the Octagon House. Judith Brockenbrough's initials are scratched on a windowpane in an upstairs bedroom at Mount Vernon. William Brockenbrough's home in Richmond, at Fifth and Clay streets, was frequently visited by Chief Justice Marshall and other notable citizens of Richmond.


One son, John White Brockenbroug married Mary C. Bowyer and became a judge of the United States Court for the Western District of Virginia, founder and head of his own law school at Lexington, Professor in the Law School of Washington and Lee University, member of the Confederate States of America Congress, and a publisher of law decisions. One daughter, Mary, married another lawyer, Willoughby Newton. Another daughter, named Judith White after her mother, married Episcopal clergyman John P. McQuire and published her diary written during the American Civil War, "The Diary of a Southern Refugee".


  • Minor, Benjamin Blake (March 1900). "Judge William Brockenbrough". The Virginia Law Register. 5 (11): 731–739. doi:10.2307/1098516. JSTOR 1098516.