Saturday, September 13, 2014

Peregrine Lethbury Wickes (1837-1923), Peregrine Foster Wells (1847-1930)

                                                    Portrait courtesy of the Archives of Maryland website.

    A distinguished member of  both the Pennsylvania and Maryland bar, Peregrine Lethbury Wickes served as a district court judge in Pennsylvania and in the latter period of his life was elected as a Judge on the Baltimore City Supreme Bench, serving here until his retirement. Born on August 13, 1837 in Chestertown, Maryland, Peregrine L. "Pere" Wickes was one of seven children born to Joseph Wickes IV (1788-1864) and his wife, the former Elizabeth Caroline Chambers (1799-1872). Wickes' higher education took place at the Washington College in Chestertown and he would later attend Princeton University, earning both his Bachelor of Laws and Master of Arts degree from this institution.
   From 1858 to 1859 Wickes studied law with prominent Baltimore attorney Severn Teackle Wallis (1816-1894), who would later serve in the Maryland House of Delegates. Wickes was admitted to the state bar in 1859 and shortly thereafter established a law practice in Chestertown. He married in February 1862 to York County, Pennsylvania native Henrietta Catherine Welsh (born 1841) and the couple would become parents to eight children, listed as follows in order of birth: Joseph Lee (born 1862), Benjamin Chambers (born ca. 1863), Henry Welsh, Katherine, Peregrine Lethbury (died in infancy in 1868), Peregrine Lethbury Jr. (1873-1948), Henrietta Elizabeth and Dr. Walter Forman (1877-1960). 
    After several years of practice in his hometown Wickes removed to his wife's home county of York, Pennsylvania in 1866. He began a new law practice here and later served as an attorney for the Northern Central and Pennsylvania Railroad. He continued to enjoy a successful career as an attorney for the next several years, and in 1875 was elected as an additional law Judge for Pennsylvania's 19th Judicial district. Wickes' time as an additional law judge ended in 1882, when he received the appointment as president judge of the 19th judicial district, holding his seat until his resignation in 1886. 
   Following his resignation Wickes removed back to Baltimore with his family and soon recommenced with the practice of law. In 1890 he was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Bench of Baltimore City and in the following year was elected to a term of his own. He would continue to serve on the court until reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70 in 1907, and resigned that year.
   After retiring from legal practice Wickes remained active in several fraternal clubs, including the Maryland Club of Baltimore and the Casino and Yacht Clubs of Jamestown, Rhode Island. Peregrine L. Wickes died at age 86 on October 27, 1923 of heart failure at his Baltimore home. A burial location for Wickes is unknown at this time, and is presumed to be somewhere in Baltimore, where he had resided for the last three decades of his life. The spelling of Wickes' middle name is also under scrutiny, being given by various sources as "Lethbury", "Lithbury", Lethrbury and Leatherbury.


Peregrine L. Wickes, from "The Book of Maryland" 1920.

Pere L. Wickes' obituary from the Chestertown Transcript, November 3, 1923.

From the 1917 West Virginia State Blue Book.

   Born several years after Peregrine L. Wickes, West Virginia native Peregrine Foster Wells was another man with this odd first name who found distinction in public life. A one term member of the West Virginia State House of Representatives, Wells was born in Belleville, Virginia on August 21, 1847, being one of several children born to Caleb (1798-1860) and Elizabeth Prather Wells (1812-1893). His education occurred in the "common schools" and would go on to attend the National Normal School in Lebanon, Ohio.
  Prior to serving in the legislature Wells occupied the offices of constable, justice of the peace and county surveyor in Wood County, West Virginia. A farmer by occupation, Wells was elected to the House of Representatives in November 1916, receiving 4,376 votes. During the 1917-19 session he would serve on the committees on Immigration, Agriculture, Humane Institutions and Federal Relations. He returned to private life  after the completion of his term and died on June 8, 1930 at age 82.

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