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ALABAMA'S SUPREME COURT CHIEF JUSTICES

William Parish Chilton

Born and raised in Kentucky, William Parish Chilton moved to Athens, Tennessee in 1828. There he studied law and was admitted to the bar the following year. In 1834 he moved to Alabama and established a law practice in Talladega. Running as a Whig candidate, he was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives in 1839. A skillful debater, Chilton was active in two presidential campaigns, supporting the Whig candidates in 1840 and 1844. Shortly after being defeated in a bid for a congressional seat in 1843, he moved to Macon County and began practicing law in Tuskegee.

 

In 1848 the state legislature elected Chilton to the Supreme Court, and in December, 1852, Chilton succeeded Edmund Spann Dargan as chief justice. He held the position until January of 1856 when he resigned to resume his law practice in Tuskegee.

 

Chilton once again became involved in politics in 1859 when he was elected state senator from Macon County. Although he opposed secession, he cast his lot with the South. From 1861 to 1866 he served in both the provisional legislature and the permanent congress of the Confederacy. Following the Civil War, Chilton resumed his law practice.

 

William Parish Chilton was married twice, first in 1829 to Mary C. Morgan of Athens, Tennessee, and after her death, to her sister, Elvira Frances Morgan.

 

In December of 1874 the legislature changed the name of Baker County to Chilton County in his honor.

 

Source: Alabama Judicial System website.