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Robert Simonton Gould (1826-1904)

Associate Justice, Texas Supreme Court, 1874-1881
Chief Justice, Texas Supreme Court, 1881-1882

Robert Simonton Gould, who would become one of the two law professors hired when The University of Texas officially opened in 1883, was born "of sturdy New England ancestry" December 16, 1826, in Iredell County, North Carolina. His father, a Presbyterian minister, died when Robert was seven, and he subsequently moved with his mother to Alabama. Mrs. Gould ran a boarding house for many years, and provided her two sons with college educations. Robert Gould entered the University of Alabama at the age of fourteen and graduated in 1844 when he was seventeen. Following his graduation he taught mathematics at the university for several years and studied law. He was admitted to the bar in 1849 and began practicing law in Macon, Mississippi, where his law partner was former Mississippi governor, J. L. Martin.

In 1850 Gould moved to Texas and settled in Centerville, the county seat of Leon County. There he practiced law, was elected district attorney for the Thirteenth District in 1853, and was married in 1855. He and his wife had a son. In 1861 Gould attended the Secession Convention. Like the majority of Leon County citizens he represented, he was a secessionist.

Gould was elected judge of the Thirteenth District in 1861, but soon resigned the post to participate in the war effort. He enlisted in the Confederate Army as a captain, raised a battalion that became known as Gould's Battalion, and later was colonel of a regiment. His horse was shot under him and he was wounded at the Battle of Jenkins Ferry in Arkansas in 1864. Following the war Gould returned to Centerville and was reelected judge in 1866. He was removed from office as an "impediment to Reconstruction" along with numerous other officials when Texas came under federal military control in 1867.

In 1870 Gould relocated to Galveston. He was appointed to the Texas Supreme Court by Gov. Richard Coke in 1874 after Peter Gray resigned his position on the bench due to illness. Gould was then elected to the position in 1876. In 1881, Gov. Oran Roberts appointed him chief justice. Gould was not elected to the post the following year.

In 1883 Robert Gould and Oran Roberts were appointed the first two law professors of the new University of Texas. Gould served as professor of law for the next twenty years until resigning in the spring of 1904 due to poor health. He died in Austin June 30, 1904 at the age of seventy-seven. He was remembered as a hard-working and gentle man of simple tastes and as a sympathetic and respected professor.

Notable opinions

Gould's dissenting opinion in Ex parte Towles, 48 Texas reports 413, was considered among his most important and best delivered opinions.


In Memoriam, 98 Texas reports v (1904).

Abbey, Fred F. Gould, Robert Simonton, Handbook of Texas Online (last updated June 6, 2001).

Davenport , Jewette Harbert. The History of the Supreme Court of the State of Texas 117-119 (Austin, Texas: Southern Law Book Publishers, 1917).

Lynch, James Daniel. The Bench and Bar of Texas 312-314 (St. Louis, Missouri: Nixon-Jones Printing Co., 1885).

Extended bibliography

Biographical Encyclopedia of Texas 220 (New York, New York: Southern Publishing Co., 1880).

Davenport, Jewette Harbert. The History of the Supreme Court of the State of Texas 117 (Austin, Texas: Southern Law Book Publishers, 1917).

Henderson, Harry M. Texas in the Confederacy 136 (San Antonio, Texas: Naylor Co., 1955).

Lynch, James Daniel. The Bench and Bar of Texas 312 (St. Louis, Missouri: Nixon-Jones Printing Co., 1885).

Speer, Ocie. Texas Jurists 78 (Austin, Texas: the author, 1936).

Texas Bar Association. Proceedings of the Annual Session 49 (Austin, Texas: the Association, 1904).

Thrall, Homer S. The People's Illustrated Almanac 171 (St. Louis, Missouri: N. D. Thompson, 1880).

A Partial Roster of the Officers and Men Raised in Leon County, Texas, for the Service of the Confederate States in the War Between the States, with Short Biographical Sketches of Some of the Officers, and a Brief History of Maj. Gould's Battalion, and Other Matters 4. William D.Wood, compiler (San Marcos, Texas: n.p., 1899).

Additional information available in Southwestern Historical Quarterly as follow:
Volume 1, page 265
Volume 53, page 438
Volume 60, page 18, 109, 111, 209
Volume 62, page 156, 157n, 333
Volume 63, page 65
Volume 64, page 477
Volume 68, page 468
Volume 69, page 232
Volume 79, page 134

Batts, Robert L., et al. Memorial Address and Biographical Sketches of Robert S. Gould, 6(3) University Record.

In Memoriam, 98 Texas reports v (1904).

1 Biographies of Leading Texans 210. Archives Division, Texas State Library (Austin, Texas).

Robert Simonton Gould Papers. Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas (Austin, Texas).