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Robert Emmett Bledsoe Baylor (1793-1873)

Associate Justice, Supreme Court of the Republic of Texas, 1841-1846

Judge R.E.B. Baylor, for whom Baylor University is named, was born in Lincoln County, Kentucky on May 10, 1793. He received his early education there and studied law under his uncle, Jesse Bledsoe, a Kentucky congressman. Baylor fought in the War of 1812. He was elected to the Kentucky Legislature in 1810 and again in 1819. Around 1820, Baylor relocated to Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He was elected to the Alabama Legislature in 1824 and to the United States Congress in 1828. After losing reelection, he resumed private law practice.

In 1839, Baylor experienced a religious conversion and became an ordained Baptist minister. That year he also relocated to Texas, settling in Gay Hill in Washington County. In Texas he played an influential role in shaping the state's religious, educational, and judicial future. He helped organize numerous Baptist organizations and was instrumental in founding Baylor University in Independence, served on its board of regents, and taught a course in constitutional law there for many years.

In 1841, Baylor was elected by the Congress of the Republic of Texas as judge of the Third Judicial District, which automatically made him an associate justice of the supreme court. Baylor served as a delegate to the Texas Constitutional Convention in 1845, and participated in drafting the state's constitution. Among his contributions were the establishment of a public school system, homestead exemptions, and annual public elections. He also supported barring members of the clergy from election to the legislature and opposed gubernatorial veto power. When Texas became a state, Gov. Henderson appointed Baylor judge of the Third Judicial District, and he ultimately served some twenty-three years on the bench before his death.

As earnest in his desire to save souls as he was in judicial concerns, Baylor frequently preached at night throughout his years as a judge. Never married, he died at his home in Gay Hill, Washington County, on December 30, 1873.

Notable opinions

The first opinion Baylor wrote and delivered was in the case of John Morton v. Gordon and Alley, Administrators.

Morton v. Gordon, Dallam 396 (Tex. Jan. 1841) (invalidating statute restricting, based on amount in controversy, the right of the parties to appeal. The court reversed the district court's judgment denying defendant set-off amount in intestate claim for debt recovery).


Burkhalter, Frank E. Judge R. E. B. Baylor: Founder of Baylor University Laid Many Foundations in Texas, 8 Texas Bar Journal 122, 153.

Ericson, Joe E. Judges of the Republic of Texas 36.

Lynch. The Bench and Bar of Texas 76.

Summerlin, Travis L., Baylor, Robert Emmett Bledsoe, Handbook of Texas Online (last modified June 6, 2001).

Extended bibliography

Duncan , Frances Higginbotham. The Life and Times of R. E. B. Baylor, 1793-1846 (Master's thesis, Baylor University, 1954).

Ericson, Joe E. Judges of the Republic of Texas (1836-1846) 36 (Dallas, Texas: Taylor Publishing Co., 1980).

Fuller, Benjamin Franklin. History of Texas Baptists 93 (Louisville, Kentucky: Baptist Book Concern, 1900).

Johnson, Sidney Smith. Texans Who Wore the Gray 6 (Tyler, Texas: 1907).

1 Texas Historical and Biographical Magazine 194. John Bodkin Links, ed. (Austin, Texas: J.B. Link, 1891-92).

Lotts, Frank. Fayette County, Her History and Her People 203 (Schulenburg, Texas: the author, 1902).

Lynch, James Daniel. The Bench and Bar of Texas 76 (St. Louis, Missouri: Nixon-Jones Printing Co., 1885).

Richardson, Thomas Clarence. 3 East Texas, Its History and Its Makers 1140 (New York, New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Co., 1940).

Riley, Benjamin Franklin. History of the Baptists of Texas 51 (Dallas, Texas: the author, 1907).

Thrall, Homer S. A Pictorial History of Texas 498 (St. Louis, Missouri: N. D. Thompson & Co., 1879).

Walker, J. L. History of the Waco Baptist Association of Texas 237 (Waco, Texas: Byrne-Hill Printing House, 1897).

Additional information available in Southwestern Historical Quarterly as follow:
Volume 5, page 52, 120
Volume 25, page 35
Volume 34, page 308
Volume 40, page 117, 128
Volume 49, page 274, 369, 378, 380, 381n
Volume 50, page 74, 373
Volume 53, page 254
Volume 56, page 159, 515
Volume 57, page 448, 450, 496
Volume 58, page 409, 435, 449, 512
Volume 60, page 3
Volume 67, page 123, 497
Volume 68, page 172
Volume 70, page 419, 420, 503
Volume 73, page 183

Additional information available in Texas Bar Journal as follow:
Volume 8, page 122

Luter, Elmer. Texas Bachelor Preacher Loved to Help Mankind, Dallas Morning News, April 11, 1942.

Turner, Thomas E. Man of Action in Life, Judge Baylor Moves Again, Dallas Morning News, Mar. 27, 1966.

Archives Division, Texas State Library (Austin, Texas).

Brown, Frank. Annals of Travis County and of the City of Austin: from the earliest times to the close of 1875, 12:45.

1 Biographies of Leading Texans 20, 24. Archives Division, Texas State Library (Austin, Texas).