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Probable Namesake:
BIO:  Robert J. Fisher, York County, PA

Contributed for use in the USGenWeb Archives by Abby Bowman

Copyright 2004.  All rights reserved.

History of York County, Pennsylvania.  John Gibson, historical editor.
Chicago: F. A. Battey Publishing Co., 1886.

Part II, Biographical Sketches, York Borough, Pg 17

ROBERT J. FISHER.  A large part of the judicial history of York County, is inseparably associated with the career of Hon. Robert J. Fisher, who, for more than thirty years, presided over its courts.  On the 4th day of November, 1828, when twenty-two years of age, he was admitted to practice in the several courts of York County.  He had received a thorough legal education, at the Yale Law School, New Haven, Conn., and in the office of his father, a widely known and honored attorney of Harrisburg.  For twenty-three years he worked diligently at the bar, attaching himself by his integrity and ability a large clientage and a host of friends.  In 1851, he was elected to the bench of the Nineteenth Judicial District, composed then of the counties of York and Adams.  Being twice re-elected (1861 and 1871), he was, until 1875, the only law judge of the two counties, accomplishing a vast amount of labor, and rendering with promptness and widely recognized learning, decisions which have commanded general respect. His rulings have almost universally been upheld by the appellate tribunals, and his opinions have been quoted as an authority, in this and other States, with more frequency than those of almost any other contemporaneous nisi prius judge.  Although an earnest Democrat, during his official career, he carefully abstained from all connection with politics.  Judge Fisher possessed, in an unusual degree, the rare ability of viewing a question impartially and deciding on principle unaffected by prejudice or fear.  Particularly was this characteristic strikingly illustrated in his course during the Rebellion.  Now that the intense excitement and intolerant partisanship of the time have passed away, his undeviating adherence to the established principles of the common law, appears most admirable.  Though a decided and uncompromising Unionist, he was, nevertheless, determined in his opposition to every unwarrantable encroachment of the military upon the civil power.  When passion and fear deprived others of their judgment, he seems never to have lost his cool discretion, either in the presence of Federal soldiers or rebel invaders.  On one occasion, a citizen had been illegally arrested by the military authorities at the hospital on the commons, and a writ of habeas corpus was taken out in his behalf.  Upon its return, the prisoner was brought into court by a squad of soldiers with fixed
bayonets.  That show of force, however, failed to affect the action of the Court.  Promptly he required the soldiers to recognize civil authority, saying that as citizens they had a right to be there, but as armed men they must withdraw.  After a hearing the prisoner was released.  At the time of the Confederate occupation of York, in 1863, the rebel commander sent to Judge Fisher for the keys of the court house.  He replied that he did not have them, and that the commissioners were the only legal custodians of the public buildings; upon another summons being sent, however, he went with the messenger and found that the soldiers had in some way obtained admission to destroy the records there deposited.  As the chief judicial magistrate of the county, he warmly expostulated against the destruction of these valuable evidences, the loss of which would be irremediable.  The General, at first said it would only be just retaliation for the depredations of the northern armies in the South, but after a long discussion, the judge compelled him to acknowledge the unlawfulness of all such acts of useless plunder, and persuaded him to withdraw his men.  The records and valuable documents of the county were thus saved by
the coolness and firmness of the venerable judge.  There are several other occasions, which many citizens recall during those turbulent times, when he showed like remarkable courage, facing mobs with fearless dignity, and with unusual mildness, but at the same time unusual determination, maintaining order and insisting upon the supremacy of the civil law.  

Judge Fisher comes of one of the oldest and most respectable families of the State.  Born in Harrisburg, May 6, 1806, he is the son of George Fisher, Esq., and Ann Shipper, daughter of Robert Strettell Jones Fisher, but dropped the second name early in life.  His maternal grandfather was a member of the New Jersey Legislature, and secretary
of the Committee of Safety in 1776.  His great-grandfather, Isaac Jones, was twice mayor of Philadelphia (1767 and 1768), and a member of the common council in 1764.  His great-great-grandfather Fisher was one of the original company of Quakers, who came from England with William Penn, in 1682, and who laid out the city of Philadelphia.  His grandfather, George Fisher, received from his father a large tract of land in Dauphin County, upon which he laid out the borough of Middletown.  Judge Fisher was twice married, and in the quiet scenes of domestic life he always experienced great satisfaction.  His first wife, Catharine, daughter of Horatio Gates Jameson, M.D., became the mother of eight children, and died in 1850.  In 1853 he married Mary Sophia, daughter of Ebenezer Cadwell of Northbridge, Mass., who bore him two children.  His eldest son, George
Fisher, Esq., is a well established member of the York County bar, and his other son, Robert J. Fisher, Jr., having been for several years connected with the patent office, is now one of the three examiners-in-chief.  

In matters of religion, Judge Fisher has always been eminently catholic.  From childhood, his associations have been largely with the Protestant Episcopal denominations, although particularly charitable toward those of different faith and order, and a frequent attendant at their services.  In 1870, he became a communicant member of St. John's Church in York, has been for many years a vestryman, and was the first chancellor of the diocese of central Pennsylvania. 

Biographical Sketch of Robert J. Fisher

File nameRobert J. Fisher Biographical Sketch (1886).txt
File Size6.28k
Linked toRobert Fisher Barton (Research-Note)

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