William Matthew S. Merrick (1818-1889)
MSA SC 3520-2091
William Matthew S. Merrick was born on September 1, 1818 in Charles
He was the son of William Duhurst Merrick, a United States Senator from 1838-1845. He
graduated from Georgetown University in Washington D.C. in 1831 and studied law at the
University of Virginia in Charlottesville. He was admitted to the bar in Baltimore in 1839.
Merrick began practicing law in Frederick in 1944 and served as deputy
attorney general for
Frederick County in 1945, serving five years. He moved to Washington in 1854 and was
appointed associate justice of the United States Circuit Court by President Pierce. He served in
that court until its abolition by act of Congress in 1863. He then returned to Maryland and
resumed the practice of law.1
Judge Merrick became a professor of law at Columbian College, now George
University, in Washington, D.C. from 1866-1867. In 1870 he was elected to the Maryland State
House of Delegates from Howard County and soon after was elected as a Democrat to the
United States House of Representatives and served from March 4, 1871 to March 3, 1873. He
was unsuccessful in his attempt for re-election to Congress in 1872. After his retirement from Congress
he resumed his law practice in Ellicott City.
On May 1, 1885, President Cleveland appointed Judge Merrick to be associate
judge of the supreme
court of the District of Columbia. There was considerable opposition in the Senate to his confirmation
on account of his advanced age, and the appointment was not confirmed until the following
January. He served in that position until his death.
His brothers, Richard T. Merrick and George C. Merrick, were also distinguished
He married Mary B. Wickliffe of Kentucky on October 15, 1844.2 They had no children.
Judge Merrick died in Washington, D.C. on February 4, 1889. He
is buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery
in Frederick, Maryland.3
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