Connecticut State Library with state seal

Memorials of Connecticut Judges and Attorneys
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports
volume 63, page(s) 609-610


EDWARD ISAAC SANFORD was born in New Haven on the 4th day of July, 1826.

He came of the original stock of Connecticut. On the side of his father, a much esteemed and successful merchant of New Haven, he was lineally descended from Thomas Sanford, one of the early settlers of Milford. On the side of his mother, Susan Howell Sanford, he was one of the Howells, a very old and respectable family of New Haven. His personal characteristics were such as might naturally have been inherited from such an ancestry.

His preliminary education was obtained chiefly in the Fairfield Academy at Fairfield and in the Hopkins Grammar School of New Haven where he was fitted for college. He entered Yale College in 1843, and graduated there in 1847. He then immediately joined the Yale Law School where, after studying law for two years, he graduated with the degree of LL. B. in 1849. After spending some time in the office of Henry White, Esq., in further study under his direction, he opened an office for himself in New Haven and entered upon the practice of law.

Meanwhile on the 19th of June, 1849, he had married Miss Sarah Jane Lyon, daughter of Hanford Lyon, Esq., of Bridgeport. With one son and one daughter she has survived her husband.

Although he devoted himself assiduously to his profession without aiming at distinctions outside of it he soon attracted, and steadily thereafter maintained and increased, the favorable regard of his fellow citizens who from time to time called him to the discharge of public duties. In 1853, he was elected member of the Common Council of New Haven. From 1858 to 1860, and again from 1863 to 1866, he was Judge (then styled Recorder) of the City Court of that City. The dignity and ability with which he administered his office - especially in the exercise of the limited but still considerable, criminal jurisdiction which was conferred upon his Court during the latter part of his term - are still remembered with great respect by those lawyers of the present day who practiced before him.

In 1864, and again in 1865, he was elected as member of the Senate of this state from the district (then the 4th District) including New Haven.

In the latter part of 1868 and the early part of 1869 he was an instructor in the Yale Law School, and rendered valuable service in that reorganization of the school which led to its present great but growing prosperity.

In 1867 he was appointed Judge of the Superior Court for the term of eight years beginning on the 27th of July in that year. By successive reappointments in 1875 and 1883 he was continued in office until July 27, 1891. By that time his health had become seriously impaired; and it continued to grow worse until his death.

His work upon the bench of the Superior Court for that long period of twenty-four years was substantially the work of his life, and to it he devoted, with conscientious and laborious care, all his energies. He was not ambitious for the glitter of public office, and never sought it, but he learned to like his duties as a Judge of the Superior Court and he was content to limit his career to the faithful performance of them.

His personal character was blameless. Everybody who knew him liked him. His friends stood fast to him and he stood fast to them. His hand was open and generous. His tastes were eminently domestic; his heart was always in his home.

On the 4th day of March 1870, he formally joined the Centre Church of New Haven with his wife and daughter. On the 13th day of July 1893, he died in the faith.

Two days after his death, at a meeting of the bar of New Haven County, appropriate resolutions, prepared by Hon. Henry Stoddard and offered by Hon. Charles R. Ingersoll, were unanimously passed. The graceful and discriminating tribute to Judge Sanford which they contain justifies the introduction here of the few sentences now to be quoted from them as follows:-

"To perpetuate our high appreciation of the character and qualities of the late Judge Edward I. Sanford, and of the loss to us and to the community at large involved in his death, the bar of New Haven County now resolve:-

"That as a man, his friendships were many, broad, catholic and affectionate.

"That as a Judge, his courtesy was unfailing, his patience unwearied, his learning and diligence always mastering the complicated questions arising in the discharge for many years of his duties as a Judge of the Superior Court.

"That in Judge Sanford there was the true friend and the upright and capable judge, and we mourn his death as the loss of a personal friend, and we deplore his illness and consequent death as a public misfortune."

These words may fitly finish this imperfect sketch of a high-minded gentleman, a good citizen, a faithful friend, a loving husband and father, and a just Judge.