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William Franklin Ramsey (1855-1922)

Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals, 1907-1911
Associate Justice, Texas Supreme Court, 1911-1912

William Franklin Ramsey was born October 25, 1855 in Bell County, Texas. The family soon moved to Alvarado in Johnson County, where Ramsey's father worked in a mercantile business and Ramsey attended local schools. He attended Trinity University in Tehuacana, where he earned a B.A. degree in 1876, a law degree in 1877, and an M.A. in 1883. After receiving his law degree he practiced law in Cleburne for a number of years. He was married in 1878, and he and his wife had a son. In 1885 his wife died. Ramsey remarried the following year, and with his second wife he had six children. By 1900, in addition to his thriving law practice, he was also serving as president of three separate banks.

Ramsey was appointed chairman of the board of commissioners of the Texas prison system in 1907, and held that position until he was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in 1908. He was then elected to the seat the following November and held the post until resigning to accept an appointment as an associate justice of the Texas Supreme Court in 1911. The following year he resigned and ran unsuccessfully for governor as a prohibition candidate.

Following his court service and unsuccessful bid for governor, Ramsey practiced law in Austin with his son, S. D. Ramsey. In 1916 he was appointed chairman of the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Ramsey was the father-in-law of United States attorney general and Supreme Court justice Thomas C. Clark, who had married his daughter, Mary. Their son, Ramsey Clark, went on to become United States attorney general under Lyndon B. Johnson. William F. Ramsey died at his home in Dallas on October 27, 1922, and was buried in Cleburne.


Hart, Brian. Ramsey, William Franklin, Handbook of Texas Online (last updated June 6, 2001).

Extended bibliography

Speer, Ocie. Texas Jurists 102, 446 (Austin, Texas: the author, 1936).

Additional information available in Southwestern Historical Quarterly as follow:
Volume 26, page 242
Volume 58, page 378
Volume 60, page 18
Volume 65, page 190