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Robert William ("Bob") Hamilton (1899-1981)

Associate Justice, Texas Supreme Court, 1959-1970

Robert William ("Bob") Hamilton was born March 24, 1899 in Omen, Texas, located in Smith County, southeast of Tyler. A World War I veteran, Hamilton worked his way through college, and then taught school and coached athletics in Plainview, Texas from 1919 to 1926 to pay for law school, which he attended during the summer months. He completed his law degree from The University of Texas at Austin in 1927. Hamilton was married and had three children.

Hamilton began his legal career in 1927, practicing law in Tyler. Two years later he moved to Stanton, the county seat of Martin County in the Texas panhandle, where he became county attorney in 1929 and then district attorney of the 70th Judicial District until 1935. From 1935 to 1951 he was in private legal practice in Midland. He served as a district judge for the Seventieth Judicial District in Midland from 1951 to 1953. He was appointed chief justice of the Eighth Court of Civil Appeals in El Paso, serving from 1953 to 1958. In that capacity he wrote more than 350 opinions.

Hamilton was elected an associate justice of the Texas Supreme Court in November 1958 and was reelected in November 1964. He served through 1970 before retiring. There he was remembered for his fairness, sincerity, courage, and sound knowledge of law. He was particularly knowledgeable in mineral law, and wrote the court's landmark opinion in Atlantic Refining Co. v. Railroad Commission of Texas (346 S.W.2d 801), usually referred to as the Normanna case.

Following his service on the bench, Hamilton was of counsel to the Tyler law firm of Ramsey, Flock, Hutchins, Jeffus, McClendon, and Crawford until his death. Robert W. Hamilton died of an apparent heart attack in Tyler on August 9, 1981 at the age of eighty-two, and was buried in the Texas State Cemetery in Austin.


Biographical Information, Robert W. Hamilton. Provided by the Texas Supreme Court Historical Society.

Hamilton, Robert William, Texas State Cemetery (accessed October 17, 2006).

Jack Pope. Mr. Justice Hamilton, Common Law Judge, Manuscript written for Baylor Law Review, Fall/Winter 1970. Provided by the Texas Supreme Court Historical Society.

Extended bibliography

Pope, Jack. Mr. Justice Hamilton, Common Law Judge, 22 Baylor Law Review 469.

Additional information available in Texas Bar Journal as follow:
Volume 16, page 743
Volume 26, page 623
Volume 34, page 111, 113

Hamilton to Retire from High Court, Houston Post, Sept. 30, 1969.