John
W.
Wescott


JOHN W. WESCOTT was born in Waterford Township in Camden County NJ on February 28, 1849. He is not to be confused with John L. Westcott, who served as a Mayor of Camden from 1892 to 1898.

After graduating with a degree in law from Tale College in New Haven CT, John W. Westcott was admitted to the bar in Connecticut in 1876 and in New Jersey in 1878. Quickly rising to prominence in Camden's legal circles, he was made President Judge of the Camden County Courts in 1885. He had offices at 205 Market Street in 1887, By 1890 he had moved his practice to the then new Security Trust Building at 301 Market Street. By 1897 he had made unsuccessful bids for election to the New Jersey State Senate and the United States House of Representatives as a Democrat in generally Republican districts. 

A longtime resident of Haddonfield NJ, Judge Wescott was a Democrat and was renowned for having given both of President Woodrow Wilson's nominating addresses.  One was at the Democratic Convention in Baltimore on June 27, 1912, and the other at the Democratic Convention in St. Louis MO on June 10, 1916. Afterwards, when he was Attorney General of New Jersey he wrote a book on the events in Woodrow Wilson's life. 

Widely known as a trial lawyer, John W. Wescott trained several lawyers who went on to distinguished careers in there own right, including Ralph W.E. Donges, who for many years was a justice on the New Jersey State Supreme Court.

Judge John W. Wescott passed away in 1927, as did his younger brother Dr. William A. Westcott. They were buried near each other in the family plot at Harleigh Cemetery in Camden NJ. Judge Wescott was eulogized in March and April of 1930 in separate articles that were included in the Archive, the yearbook of the South Jersey Law School in Camden NJ.

John W. Wescott was buried at Harleigh Cemetery in Camden NJ, where he now rests with other family members. 

Of Judge Wescott's three sons, two went on to prominence in local circles, Ralph W. Wescott being a member of the Delaware River Port Authority and Ethan P. Wescott holding at one time the position of Prosecutor for Camden County. 



Philadelphia Inquirer - October 6, 1884

Elmer Barr - John W. Wescott - Richard F. Smith  
John J. Welsh


Philadelphia Inquirer - October 14, 1884
Howard Carrow - Charles G. Garrison - John W. Wescott
North 3rd Street - Market Street

Trenton Evening Times - February 9, 1885

Charles T. Reed - David J. Pancoast - Alfred Hugg - John K.R. Hewitt
 John W. Wescott - Charles G. Garrison  

Philadelphia Inquirer
August 17, 1885

Claudius Bradshaw
Isaiah Woolston
John Gaunt
John W. Wescott
John W. Osler
Clinton Street
William Massey
Jane Wilson
Samuel Doughty
William Devlin
William Anderson
Isaac France
Adalaide Whitely
Kate Rice
Emma Devine


Philadelphia Inquirer - March 20, 1886
Lizzie Fullerton - John W. Wescott

Philadelphia Inquirer - March 19, 1887

Samuel H. Gray - John W. Wescott - Charles G. Garrison 

BIOGRAPHICAL REVIEW
Containing Life Sketches of Leading Citizens
of
Camden and Burlington Counties
1897

Click on Image to Enlarge

Trenton Times - November 25, 1908

Arthur Stanley - Patrick Carr - John W. Wescott - Peter Backes

 

Philadelphia Inquirer
April 23, 1917

John W. Wescott - Harry C. Kramer - First Baptist Church - First Presbyterian Church
St. John's Episcopal Church


Philadelphia Inquirer
February 21, 1918
John W. Wescott - William J. Kraft -
 
Bayard Kraft - R. Wayne Kraft
Charles A. Wolverton - Henry S. Scovel

South Jersey
A History 164-1924

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The
Wescott Family Plot
at
Harleigh Cemetery
Camden NJ

Click on Image to Enlarge


Ralph W.E. Donges' memorial to Judge John W. Wescott
Published in the 1930 Archive,
the yearbook of the Law School of South Jersey, Camden NJ

My admiration for Judge Wescott developed early. I admired my own father greatly, and he, I discovered, regarded the militant young Judge not only as a friend, but as a heroic character.

 I went into the old Camden County Court House one day- I heard my future preceptor try a case. The picture is with me now, of the skilled, aggressive advocate, and the brilliant, splendidly poised trial judge, the late Charles Grant Garrison, who sat in the trial of cases, where I have the privilege of sitting now. From then on my ambition remained fixed. What earnest boy has not dreamed a future? I wanted to become a lawyer, a trial lawyer, a great trial lawyer if possible- and I wanted to learn the law under Judge Wescott. I think my father hoped that I would follow him in the practice of medicine- in which he was rendering a great service to the community- but when he realized the earnestness of my wish to study law, he did not try to dissuade me, but took me to the Judge’s office, and shortly thereafter my legal training began. Not, however, at the first interview. It was not enough that his good friend had a son who wanted to become a lawyer. I had to convince one, then the other, that it was no passing whim on my part. These were my first two important arguments. To me they were vital, and, having won the first, I struggled the harder to win the next. When Judge Wescott saw I that was in earnest and not to be discouraged by his warnings of the difficulties and dangers of a lawyer’s life, he, with evident reluctance, consented to try me out for a time. He told me he hesitated to take students because he had neither time nor inclination for their instruction. Nevertheless, that was a happy day for me, not only because it meant the beginning of my legal training, but because I knew that it meant an exceptionally good training. By this I do not mean that my preceptor was, in the usual sense, an exceptionally good teacher. Indeed, he had but little knack in giving personal instruction. He had neither the interest in legal technicalities nor the requisite patience for teaching by rote. But he was an inspiring example. To be with him in the office and the courtroom was a constant stimulus to exertion and the acquirement of skill in every branch of the law. The young men he took as students, developed in nearly every instance into capable lawyers. The late Judge Vroom, Francis D. Weaver, who later became his partner, Howard L. Miller, and the Judge’s own three sons, are some of these students, who either preceded or followed my apprenticeship.

 Judge Wescott was interested primarily in the character of his students. He looked first, I think, for honesty, next for courage, lastly for skill and learning. All are prime essentials, but I place them in the order in which he held them, and in which he exemplified them. Great as were his skill and learning, they rested on the greater foundation of courage; and that, in turn, rested on his essential honesty of character, which sprang from the love in his heart.

 He was a lover of all mankind and his fighting spirit was aroused whenever he believed human right was invaded. To him the financial benefit of winning a case, either to the client or to himself was not to be considered, in comparison with the vindication of a right. If he sometimes appeared adamantine or intolerant, it was only because he believed an injustice or an untruth was being perpetrated. He had no disposition to compromise or temporize with either.

By nature, then, a kindly, lovable soul, as I have good reason to know, he would become hard and merciless in his condemnation of sham, hypocrisy, deceit and attempted injustice. In the event of what he conceived to be an oppression, by whomsoever attempted, he flung into the conflict with all of his tremendous powers. I wish space permitted a narration of some instances of the exhibition of his courage, skill, and resourcefulness. None, who has heard him, can forget his matchless elegance, his compelling reasoning, his quiet commanding presence, as he sought to vindicate what he believed in the moment to be right.

 Judge Wescott was essentially an advocate, but such was his belief in the majesty of the law for the honest settlement of differences between suitors, that I believe he never took pleasure in the winning of any case, unless he believed that substantial justice had been done between the parties.

 His life is an inspiration to those following him, an exemplification, as above stated, of honesty, courage, learning, and skill. Fidelity to duty, as he saw that duty, was the cardinal principle that controlled his activities as an advocate- “With firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right.”

 Judge Wescott was a great lawyer, a brilliant and courageous advocate, a warm hearted, sympathetic friend, a thorough-going American, to whom Shakespeare’s words, as quoted by Dean Minturm at the end of his foregoing appreciation of our mutual friend and mentor, most aptly apply.

 Ralph W.E. Donges
 Camden NJ
April 1930

‘Take him for all in all, We shall not look upon his like again”


Judge Wescott
from

"Days of Yore"

as told by Bill Day, popular writer of a column in the Haddon Gazette.

It is common knowledge that Haddonfield was one of the most prominent Republican towns in the state of New  Jersey, and a prominent citizen of Haddonfield in the early 1900's was the Hon. John W. Wescott, a retired Judge, but still active in his Camden law practice, along with his two sons who were also well known.  One son, Ralph, was a member of the Port Authority, and the other, Ethan, was the Prosecutor of Camden County.

Judge Wescott was a Democrat and was renowned for having given Woodrow Wilson's nominating addresses.  One was at the Democratic Convention in Baltimore June 27, 1912, and the other at the Democratic Convention in St. Louis, Missouri June 10,1916.  Afterwards, when he was Attorney General of New Jersey he wrote a book on the events in Woodrow Wilson's life.

In the shoemaker shop in Haddonfield another of the few Democrats in Haddonfield sat working every day.  If you were a voter of the right political party you never had to wait for your shoes to be repaired when a mending was required.

Some mornings on his way to the trolley car which he would ride to Camden to his office, Judge Wescott would stop in the shoe shop to pass the time of day.  The conversation would be political and, of course, the main topic would be Wilson.

At 12 o'clock when the fire bell would ring, the Judge would go home for lunch.  The law business would suffer from neglect that day.

Just another interesting yarn that makes Haddonfield so much a colorful community.


Camden Courier-Post - February 1, 1938

FUNERAL SERVICES HELD FOR FRANCIS D. WEAVER

Funeral services were held yesterday for Francis D. Weaver, 76, president of the New Jersey Board of Tax Appeals, who died Friday of pneumonia. Burial was in Evergreen Cemetery.

Mr. Weaver, who resided at 323 Cooper Street, served as a member of the Camden County Tax Board from 1913 to 1924. In 1924, he was appointed by Governor Silzer to the old State Board of Taxes and Assessments, becoming president in 1929. On July 1, 1936, Governor Hoffman named him for another five-year term.

A former law partner of the late John W. Wescott, who was state attorney general, Mr. Weaver later formed a partnership with George H. Jacobs here. He is survived by his widow and daughter, Mrs. Helen MacCausland.


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