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William E. Hawkins (1863-1937)

Associate Justice, Texas Supreme Court, 1913-1921

William E. Hawkins was born September 23, 1863 in Greenwood, Louisiana. His father, who had been a chaplain in the Confederate army, moved the family to Texas immediately following the war and became a circuit-riding Methodist preacher in East Texas. William Hawkins ran the family farm and held other jobs while he was growing up, including a stint as a printer's apprentice. He attended Tulane University for a year beginning in 1881 before transferring to Southwestern University in Georgetown, where he earned a B.S. degree in 1884. Hawkins then studied law in Dallas under Judge Seth Shepard and was admitted to the bar in 1887. He was married in Dallas in 1886, and the couple had four children.

Hawkins practiced law in Dallas until 1905 and served as assistant county attorney there briefly. In 1905 he was appointed first assistant attorney general, serving under attorney general R. V. Davidson. He held this post for four years. In 1910 he was appointed commissioner of insurance and banking by Gov. Thomas Campbell, but a controversy over enforcement of insurance rates led the governor to ask the senate in a special session not to confirm the appointment. Two years later, Hawkins was elected to an unexpired two-year term on the supreme court in a landslide election. He was reelected two years later and served a total of eight years as an associate justice.

Following his court service, Hawkins practiced law for a number of years in Breckenridge with his son, Lyndsay D. Hawkins. He spent two years from 1928 to 1930 in Honduras settling the mining estate of a client. When he returned, he moved to Abilene, where he practiced law for the remainder of his life. He died in Abilene July 23, 1937.


Hawkins, Eudora. A Texas Portrait: William E. Hawkins, 28 Texas Bar Journal 27-28.

Hawkins, William E., Handbook of Texas Online (last updated June 6, 2001).

Extended bibliography

Daniell, Lewis E. Texas, the Country and Its Men 646 (Austin?, Texas: 1924?).

Davenport, Jewette Harbert. The History of the Supreme Court of the State of Texas 273 (Austin, Texas: Southern Law Book Publishers, 1917).

Hawkins, Lyndsay Dickason. Speech of Lyndsay D. Hawkins... In Defense of His Two Law Partners On a Rule to Show Cause Why They Should Not Be Held in Contempt, Before Hon. James C. Wilson, Judge of the District Court of the United States, Northern District of Texas, at Abilene, November 20, 1923 (Abilene?, Texas: 1923).

Johnson, Francis White. 4 A History of Texas and Texans 2119 (Chicago, Illinois & New York, New York: The American Historical Society, 1914).

Speer, Ocie. Texas Jurists 108 (Austin, Texas: the author, 1936).

Additional information available in Southwestern Historical Quarterly as follow:
Volume 60, page 18

Additional information available in Texas Bar Journal as follow:
Volume 28, page 27

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