Born in Bannockburn, Scotland, on March 9, 1829. Resided in Chenango County, New York, where he studied law and attended a law school at Balston Spa. Admitted to practice in 1850. Practiced law in Buffalo until he came to Minnesota in 1857. Served as a Captain in the Union Army during the Civil War. After the war, he returned to Minnesota to resume the practice of law. He was appointed by Governor Austin as Chief Justice and served from July 14, 1869 to January 7, 1870. Five years later he was again appointed Chief Justice when Christopher Ripley, who unexpectedly won the election for Chief Justice in 1869, resigned because of ill health. By virtue of reelection he remained Chief Justice until his death on December 16, 1894.