Connecticut State Library with state seal

Memorials of Connecticut Judges and Attorneys
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports
volume 60, page(s) 602-603


HENRY BENNETT GRAVES, of the Litchfield County bar, died at his home in Litchfield on the 10th of August, 1891, in the sixty-ninth year of his age. He came of ancestors who were prominent in public affairs, his grandfather, Ezra Graves, representing New Fairfield several sessions in the General Assembly, and his father, Jedediah Graves, being for many years a representative from the town of Sherman, besides which he was a judge of the County Court and a member of the constitutional convention of 1818. His mother was a daughter of David Northrop, a leading citizen of the same town. The following obituary notice of Mr. Graves appeared in the Litchfield Enquirer: -

"Mr. Graves had the advantages of an academic education, but never graduated from college. He studied law with the Hon. James C. Loomis of Bridgeport, and was admitted to the bar at Litchfield in April, 1845. He began practice the same year at Plymouth. In 1849 he removed to Litchfield, where he has ever since resided. All that time he has been engaged in a wide and successful professional experience. No man during the time has been engaged in more trials, few have ever had a better general success. He was the executive secretary to Gov. Henry Dutton during his incumbency of the governorship, and was clerk of the County Court one year. He has represented the town of Litchfield in the Lower House of the General Assembly seven times, viz. : 1858, 1867, 1868, 1876, 1877, 1879 and 1889. He always took a leading part in the legislation of the state, and drafted many of the laws now found in the public statutes."

"As a lawyer he possessed high professional skill, and had great fluency of speech, energy, industry, good judgment, courage and tact. He was always enthusiastic, hopeful and full of resources. These faculties could hardly fail to bring to him a large measure of favorable results. He was a man of the most kindly feelings - warm and ardent in his friendships, generous and helpful to all, and never vindictive even to his opponents. His failings seemed hardly more than the overflow of his good qualities.

"He was twice married - once to the daughter of Gov. Henry Dutton; the second time to Sarah, daughter of the late Simeon Smith of Morris. She survives him. There are three children, daughters - two of the first and one of the second marriage."

A felicitous sketch of Mr. Graves, from the pen of Greene Kendrick, Esq., of the Waterbury bar, appeared in one of the papers, from which the following paragraph is taken: -

"Mr. Graves was a typical lawyer of the old school. He had great keenness of perception, an instinctive power to grapple with a legal complication and unravel it, splendid capacities for analysis, and he was a compact and logical thinker. That attorney must indeed have his legal armor strong and bright if Mr. Graves could not somewhere puncture it. Shrewd, quick, sarcastic and logical, he has for many years occupied a commanding position at the bar of this state. Little given to rhetorical flourish, seldom attempting masterly speeches, he was a thoroughly argumentative lawyer. Before a jury, he won their confidence by his clear, concise and fair manner of putting his case, while for his deep research in matters of pleading and evidence, he possessed the respect and commanded the attention of the bench. In figure, Mr. Graves was tall, handsome and striking. In heart, he was generous, fair and without shams. He was the same "Henry Graves" always and to every one. He had no Sunday face and another for Monday. If he possessed faults, (which is only another way of saying that he was human,) he had the honesty of character not to conceal them. Every one knew him exactly as he was. He occupied a place in the profession which few men could fill.