Hon. John Fitch
Hon. John Fitch

Information on this page is from History of Rensselaer Co., New York by Nathaniel Bartlett Sylvester, published in 1880.

HON. JOHN FITCH. Judge John Fitch is a native of Schodack, Rensselaer Co., N. Y.; is of the Norwalk Fitch family of Connecticut; is fifth in line from Gov. Thomas Fitch, of Connecticut, who was judge, chief justice, lieutenant-governor, and governor of Connecticut for forty-six successive years; is fourth in line from Col. Thomas Fitch, who commanded the sixteen colonial regiments at the attack of Fort Ticonderoga, and of whose four Connecticut regiments a British surgeon composed the song known as "Yankee Doodle" when the English army, in about 1756, was encamped at Greenbush during the French-and-English war.

The judge graduated from Union College at the age of nineteen, studied law with Judge Buell, of Troy, removing to and commencing the practice of his profession in New York City in the year 1855, since which time he has actively pursued his profession, and has earned during his professional career the high esteem of his associated and the community for ability, integrity, and energy.

In the bankruptcy court he did more than any of his compeers towards establishing a uniform rule and system of practice. He wrote many opinions, decided many difficult and intricate questions, and his opinions, decided many difficult and intricate questions, and his opinions and decisions were rarely dissented from, overruled, or reversed upon appeal. The judge inherits the peculiarities and idiosyncrasies of his family, one of whom was ennobled in England for the heroic defense of his property, Fitch Castle, in the north of England, in the year 1146.

In personal appearance he is tall, well proportioned, with searching black eyes. Possesses of quick perception and judgment, a cool head, he can think and act with calmness and judgment when all around him is in confusion. Nothing disturbs him. Having indomitable course and an iron will, he has ever relied upon his own judgment; he has usually been successful, and possess a fine property. He has a kind heart, and is affable, tender, and agreeable in his manner and conversation. He is yet a young man, and a bachelor. He has an extended acquaintance in New York among its most elegant and refined society. He is a Knickerbockers on his mother's side, is a member of Grace Church, a hereditary member of "The Society of the Cincinnati," a member of the New York Historical Society, the Bar Association, the New England Society, St. Nicholas Society, St. Nicholas Club, St. George's Society, and of the New York Yacht Club, in which societies and clubs he takes a deep interest. He is an able debater, a fine speaker, argues a cause with ability, force, and eloquence, has a fine library and knows the contents thereof, has a fine literary taste, and holds "the pen of a ready writer."

He is a great admirer of the English common law, and is a firm believer in the benefits of the court of chancery. He says the constitution and laws of today give free scope to crime and villainies, affording protection to criminals, while our courts are unable to give redress to the innocent. All know, see, and feel this, and the judge has the courage to say so.

When the design of building an iron pier at Long Branch was first entertained, its projectors selected Judge Fitch, as the man who had money, mind, perseverance, and strong common sense, as the person to undertake and carry through so difficult an undertaking. The directors of the company met obstacles, ignorance, and rascality, from the commencement to the completion of the enterprise, enough to have discouraged and disheartened men of less nerve and will, but Judge Fitch and the directors built the pier, which is a great success financially and otherwise, and they are entitled to the honor of building the first iron pier in the New World, and successfully landing the largest steamer, loaded with thousands of passengers, in the incredibly short space of one minute and a half.

The judge possesses great knowledge of the financial and commercial wants of the country, and has predicted the political as well as the commercial affairs of the nation for the last quarter of a century with great foresight. Acting upon his own judgment and knowledge of the business and resources of the land, and of the value of its railroads, he has successfully operated in Wall Street. Being very much attached to his profession, he is now giving his entire attention to the practice of law.

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