Portrait from "The Lawyers and Lawmakers of Kentucky", published 1897.
A two-term U.S. Representative from Kentucky, Landaff Watson Andrews' unusual first name is truly unique amongst the hallowed halls of Congress, and in addition to his terms in that body served as a member of the Kentucky State House of Representatives and Senate, and would later serve a six year term as circuit court judge. Described by the "Lawyers and Lawmakers of Kentucky" as an "erudite lawyer, a cultured scholar," and "a kind, considerate, Christian man", Andrews' cultivated a lasting stature as one of Kentucky's noted 19th-century public men.
A lifelong resident of Flemingsburg, Kentucky, Landaff Watson Andrews was born in that town on February 12, 1803, one of ten children born to Robert and Martha Andrews. A former member of the Kentucky House of Representatives from 1800-01, Robert Andrews was a "farmer, miller and tanner" who had resided in his birth state of Pennsylvania prior to his removal to Kentucky in 1792. Bestowing the names "Landaff Watson" upon his son, Robert Andrews' exact reasons for giving his son this unusual name may have its origins in one Robert Watson, Bishop of Landaff (1737-1816), a distinguished clergyman and Bishop of the Anglican Church who served as Bishop of Landaff (Llandaff) in Wales from 1782 until his death.
Young Landaff spent his childhood on the "home farm", where he engaged in chores like brush burning and attended local schools during the winter months. Despite a limited education, Andrews would go on to enroll at the Transylvania University of Lexington and would graduate from that school in the class of 1824. He would study law under local judge William P. Roper following his graduation and was admitted to the Fleming County bar in 1826. Andrews married on October 24th of that year to Elizabeth Dorsey (died 1862), and the couple would later become parents to two daughters, Margaret (died 1863) and Juliet (1827-1895).
Following his nuptials Andrews devoted his time to practicing law in Flemingsburg and made his first move into public life in 1829, when he was appointed as District Attorney for Fleming County, Kentucky, subsequently serving a decade in this post. Five years following his appointment Andrews won election to the Kentucky State Assembly, representing Flemingsburg in the lower house of the legislature from 1834-1838. In 1839 he was elected as a Whig to his first term in the U.S. House of Representatives, and during this term (1839-41) served on the committee on Revolutionary Pensions. He won re-election to the house in 1841, defeating Democratic candidate John L. Mason by a vote of 3,621 to 2,786. During this term, Andrews was again a member of the committee on Revolutionary Pensions.
In November 1842 Landaff Andrews ran for a third term in Congress but was dealt a narrow loss by Democratic candidate Richard French (1792-1854), 5, 481 votes to 5, 073. After the conclusion of his second term in January 1843 Watson returned to Flemingsburg and recommenced with his law practice. He returned to politics in 1857 when he was elected to a term in the Kentucky State Senate as an independent candidate, and after a four-year term here won a seat in the state House of Representatives. He resigned his House seat in 1862 to accept the position of circuit court judge for Kentucky. Andrews served on the bench until 1868, and his service was highlighted by the "Lawyers and Lawmakers of Kentucky", stating:
"As a judge his decision was ever based upon law and practice, without prejudice or preference. Always kind an courteous to litigants and lawyers, he was a favorite with both the bar and the people."
Andrews in old age, from "Kentucky: A History of the State", 1888.
After leaving the bench Andrews continued in the practice of law in Flemingsburg and took ill several weeks before his death, which occurred on December 23, 1888. He was later interred at the Fleming County Cemetery. During preparations for this article, I stumbled upon an interesting tidbit in regards to Andrews' death. Nearly every available resource mentioning him (including biographies on Wikipedia, Find-A-Grave, Who Was Who In America, and the Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress) records his death date as being December 23, 1887, when in actuality it is December 23, 1888, that date being given in his December 26, 1888 obituary in the Maysville, Kentucky Evening Bulletin (also shown below.) The 1888 death date is also highlighted in the 1897 "Lawyers and Lawmakers of Kentucky", where the above picture of him was located. Truly amazing what one can stumble across digging through old newspapers!
From the December 26, 1888 Maysville, Kentucky Evening Bulletin.