Memorials of Connecticut Judges and Attorneys
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports
volume 74, page(s) 735-736


JOHN TURNER WAIT, son of Marvin and Nancy (Turner) Wait, was born in New London, Conn., August 28th, 1811.

The Wait family, to which the late Chief Justice Waite of the U. S. Supreme Court also belonged, had been settled in Lyme from Colonial days. Mr. Wait's mother was daughter of Dr. Philip Turner, surgeon-general of the American army in the revolutionary war. He received a mercantile training in early life, and spent a year at Bacon Academy, Colchester, and two years at Trinity College.

After reading law with Hon. Lafayette S. Foster and Hon. Jabez W. Huntington, he was admitted to the bar in 1836, and practiced in Norwich till shortly before his death, April 21st, 1899.

He was state's attorney for New London county for ten years, and president of the bar association from its organization to his death. He enjoyed for many years a large civil and criminal practice in the State and United States courts.

Mr. Wait began life as a Democrat, and was candidate on the Democratic ticket for lieutenant-governor from 1854 to 1857, but, when the civil war came, he supported the government, became a Republican, and was in 1864 an elector at large on the Lincoln and Johnson ticket. He was a member of the General Assembly during five sessions, serving as chairman of the judiciary committee, speaker of the house, and president pro tem. of the senate. In 1874 he was candidate on the Republican ticket for lieutenant-governor. He was elected to the 44th Congress to till a vacancy, and continued to represent the 3d Connecticut district till the end of the 49th Congress. He received the degree of A. M. from Yale University and Trinity College, and of L.L. D. from Trinity College and Howard University. He married in 1842 Mrs. Elizabeth (Rudd) Harris of New York City, who died in 1868. He left two married daughters; his only son, Marvin Wait, lieutenant in Co. A, 8th Conn. Volunteers, having been killed at Antietam, after distinguishing himself by gallantry in battle.

Mr. Wait's manners were remarkably genial, but his popularity, which was evinced by his constantly increasing majorities in his congressional contests, had a more solid foundation than a pleasing address, for he was ever diligent in the performance of duty, whether professional or congressional.

The resolutions adopted by the bar on his decease contain this deserved commendation: "In all these various positions he was an honest, capable, faithful, and conscientious public servant, and one of the foremost citizens of the town. His legal reputation was not confined to this county, but all over the State he was known as a lawyer in the front rank of our profession. We testify of him that he was a good citizen, closely identified with movements to advance the best interests of the community in which he lived, an eminent lawyer, a wise counselor, a powerful advocate, a pleasing companion, a kind neighbor, a loving husband, an affectionate father, and a true friend."