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William Lewis Davidson (1845-1921)

Judge, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, 1891-1899
Presiding Judge, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, 1899-1913

William Lewis Davidson was born in Grenada, Mississippi on November 5, 1845. His father was a Methodist minister. The Davidson family moved to Texas in 1851, settling near Gonzalez. There Davidson was tutored by a retired Presbyterian minister and former missionary, and he later attended Gonzalez College before entering the Confederate Army in early 1861 at the age of sixteen. He participated in numerous battles during the Civil War as a member of Company B of the Thirty-second Texas Cavalry. Following the war he attended Stonewall Institute for a year.

Davidson was married in 1870, and seven children were born to the marriage. He was admitted to the Texas bar in 1871 and practiced law for the next seventeen years. He was appointed an assistant attorney general by Gov. L.S. Ross in January 1887, and was reappointed two years later. Davidson moved his family to Georgetown in 1887, partly to enable his children to attend Southwestern University.

Davidson's long career of judicial service as a member of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals began in February 1891, when Gov. James S. Hogg appointed him to the court following the resignation of Sam A. Willson. Davidson was elected to the position in the next general election. He was reelected in 1896, 1902, 1908, 1914, and 1920, serving thirty years on the court.

Davidson drowned after suffering a stroke while fishing in Austin on January 25, 1921. He was buried in the Texas State Cemetery in Austin.


Hyman, Carolyn. Davidson, William Lewis, Handbook of Texas Online (last updated June 6, 2001).

In Memoriam. 88 Texas Criminal Reports XXVIII-XXXVI (1921).

William Davidson. Texas State Cemetery (accessed November 17, 2006).