Memorials of Connecticut Judges and Attorneys
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports
volume 36, page(s) 593-595


HENRY KIRK WHITE WELCH, an able and greatly respected member of the Hartford County Bar, died at Hartford, where he resided, on the 25th day of November, 1870, aged forty-nine. He was born in Mansfield in Tolland County in 1821, graduated with honor at Yale College in 1841, and after spending a few years in the Southern States, principally as a teacher, he returned to this state, and having gone through a course of legal study commenced the practice of law in Hartford in 1850. He married in 1851 Miss Frances L. Goodrich, daughter of the late Professor Chauncey A. Goodrich of Yale College, who died in 1855. In 1858 he married Miss Susan L. Goodwin, daughter of Mr. Edward Goodwin of Hartford, who survives him. He left five children of the second marriage.

Mr. Welch was modest and unobtrusive in his manner and worked his way slowly into public notice and professional practice, but he early acquired the respect and confidence of all who knew him as a man of uncommon purity and uprightness of character and as he became more generally known he obtained an increasing and ultimately valuable legal practice. During the last ten years of his life he was employed in some of the most important causes that came before the courts of the state, and he argued them with marked ability. His cases were always prepared with great care, especially upon the points of law involved, and his arguments were always thorough and exhaustive. His mind was in a high degree acute and discriminating. In his early practice he was too much inclined to rely upon the application of a close logic to questions of law, but as he grew older he trusted less to legal refinements and more to those broad and comprehensive views, which are of controlling influence with the best judges. In the latter years of his life his integrity and trustworthiness brought to him large and important private trusts, which he very faithfully discharged.

In politics Mr. Welch was associated in early life with the Whig party, and was a member of the Republican Party from its organization. Without leaving his professional pursuits he did his duty as a citizen, warmly supporting his political principles and ready to bear his share of political labors. He was often a delegate to state and other conventions. In 1862 he was elected a member of the state Senate. It was early in the war of the Southern Rebellion and he was placed at the head of the committee on finance, a position at that time of great importance. In 1864 he was a member of the lower house, and was appointed chairman of the same committee on the part of the house. Again a member of the house in 1865, he was placed at the head of the judiciary committee and was the leader of the house.

Mr. Welch was a man of much public spirit, devoting much time to matters of public interest. The cause of education was especially indebted to him. During the latter years of his life he stood almost constantly in some important official relation to the schools of the city.

The Hartford Times, a paper opposed to the political party to which Mr. Welch belonged, in a notice of his death paid him this just and generous tribute: "Mr. Welch was a man of the strictest probity and honor. We have rarely or never met, in any political party, a more honest and honorable man. The petty subterfuges resorted to, and the unfair advantages so often taken, in political affairs, by men of a less scrupulous sense of justice and right, were unknown to his precept and practice. He was a man who won and deservedly held the respect alike of political friends and foes."

Mr. Welch was a man of great natural refinement, and in both his manners and his feelings was a true gentleman. He was full of cordiality and kindness and lived in a rare degree in his affections. With all his fondness for the law and its practice his real life was at home, where he found his truest happiness. He was a man of thorough religious convictions, and was a member of the Pearl Street Congregational Church, and for several years superintendent of its Sunday school.

The Hartford County Bar, at a meeting called on the occasion of his death, and at which there was an unusually large attendance, passed the following resolution of respect to his memory.

"Resolved, That we contemplate with profound sorrow the death of Henry K. W. Welch, Esq., for the past twenty years an honored member of this bar. With an excellent classical education, a faithful study of his profession, a well disciplined mind of great acuteness, an unwearying fidelity to the interests of his clients, and with sterling integrity, he had a high position at the bar and had secured in an uncommon degree the respect of his professional brethren and of the public. He was sought for important private trusts, and discharged them with great fidelity. Without being an active politician, he occupied a position of influence in the political party with which he was connected, and received many expressions of its confidence. He had much public spirit and spent much time in useful labors for the promotion of the welfare of the city, and especially its educational interests. He was also deeply interested in all measures for the advancement of the moral interests of the state and country. He was a man of a refined nature and great purity of character, serious and sincere in his opinions, and in social life full of kindliness. In his professional demeanor he was always courteous, and in his professional practice always honorable. To his excellence as a lawyer and a citizen he added a true Christian character, which he manifested before the world both by a Christian profession and by a Christian life. In his death our profession has lost one of its prominent and most worthy members, the city an influential and valued citizen, and the public at large an active and earnest friend of all its best interests.