Thursday, August 28, 2014

Heusted Warner Reynolds Hoyt (1842-1894)

Portrait from the Evening Post Annual 1887.

   During a short life that extended just 51 years, Heusted Warner Reynolds Hoyt rose to become a prominent figure in Connecticut law circles, having earlier been brevetted as a Colonel in the Connecticut National Guard. A multi-term member of both houses of the Connecticut legislature, Hoyt's political career reached its apex in 1887 when he was elected as Speaker of the Connecticut State House of Representatives.
   With the exception of a short residency in New York City, Heusted W.R. Hoyt was a lifelong resident of Connecticut, being born in the town of Ridgefield on November 1, 1842.  The son of Warner Hoyt (a Ridgefield minister) and Elizabeth Phillipina Reynolds, Hoyt lost his father when just three years of age and as a youngster removed with his mother to the home of her father, located in Greenwich. Described as a child of "alert mind", young Heusted would attend school at the Greenwich Academy and would later study at Columbia University in New York, being admitted at age seventeen. He would be afflicted with "a protracted illness" during his first term and because of this "could not continue"  with his studies. In 1863 Hoyt joined the Connecticut State Militia, being appointed as a Second Lieutenant in Co. F. of the 8th Regiment, Connecticut National Guard. He would eventually be promoted to Colonel in the Connecticut 4th Regiment and served in this capacity until his resignation in March of 1877.
   Hoyt began the study of law in New York City in the early 1860s with Henry H. Owen and was admitted to the New York State bar in 1865. Soon after receiving his degree Hoyt removed back to Greenwich to establish a law office, and through his practice served as "local counsel" for former U.S. Representative and Tammany Hall leader William Marcy Tweed (a part-time Greenwich resident), who had a $160,000 suit levied against him in 1871 by James H. Ingersoll in the "Connecticut Superior Court". Hoyt would marry around 1872 to a Ms. Anne E. Waite, with whom he would have three children, Elizabeth Warner, Turner Waite, and Annie. 
   Within a few years of his return to Connecticut Hoyt won election to the State Senate at age 26, being the youngest man to serve during that legislative session. His term extended from 1869-70 and he was returned to that body in the election of 1872, serving from 1873-74. During his first term he chaired both the committee on Enrolled Bills and the Military, and in the second was chair of the committee on Incorporations. Following these terms he returned to practicing law, subsequently being retained as counsel for the Greenwich Savings Bank (where he also served as a trustee) and was a director for the Byram Land Improvement Company.

                    Heusted W.R. Hoyt in 1869, from the "Other Days In Greenwich", published 1913.

   Hoyt reentered political life in November 1885 when he was elected to represent his hometown in the Connecticut House of Representatives. During the 1886-87 term, he served as chairman of the Judiciary Committee. He was reelected to the house in November 1886 and at the start of the 1887 house term was selected as its Speaker, continuing in this post throughout the 1888 and 1889 house terms. Described by the Popular Biography of Connecticut as being a "staunch Republican", Hoyt was also noted as an "able debater" and "affable man" who:
"In every measure presented or discussed he manifested a lively interest, and, whether in the chair or on the floor, always commanded respect and wielded important influence in legislative affairs."
  In 1889 Heusted W.R. Hoyt was honored by his fellow Greenwich citizens by being elected as the first judge of the Borough of Greenwich, and sat on the bench until his death at age 51 on April 8, 1894. His funeral took place during a "blinding snowstorm" and was attended by many members of the Fairfield County bar. A week after his passing Hoyt was memorialized by the Fairfield County Bar in a resolution which noted:
"That in the death of Brother Hoyt this bar fully realizes the loss of one of its most respected and talented members, one whose kindly and genial qualities, loyal friendship, amiable, polished and courteous manners, heroic courage, unswerving integrity in the discharge of his professional duties, and superior intellectual attainments has long commanded the admiration of his fellows, and are worthy of emulation."
  A burial location for both Hoyt and his family is unknown at this time and is presumed to be somewhere in the Greenwich vicinity, where he spent nearly all of his personal and professional life.
From "Other Days In Greenwich", 1913.

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