Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Richard Grason (1820-1893)
MSA SC 3520-14050
Associate Judge, Maryland Court of Appeals, 1867-1882


Born 1820, Queen Anne's County, Maryland. Son of Governor William Grason and his wife, Susan Orrick Sulivane Grason. Attended Cambridge Academy, Cambridge, Maryland; private boarding school; St. John's College, Annapolis, Maryland. Married Sally Ridgely, daughter of Charles Sterrett Ridgely and his wife, Elizabeth Ruth Hollingsworth Ridgely, June 7, 1847; five children: Mrs. Thomas I. George, William Grason, John Grason, Charles S. Grason, and Mrs. I. Lane Finley. Died September 21, 1893, in Towson, Baltimore County, Maryland. Buried, Greenmount Cemetery, Baltimore, Maryland.

With the inauguration of his father in January 1839 as Governor of Maryland, Richard Grason moved with his family to Annapolis from Queen Anne's County. In Annapolis, Richard studied the law under Thomas S. Alexander, and was admitted to the bar in 1844. After admittance to the bar, Grason worked with Cornelius McLean, who was then auditor of the High Court of Chancery. Upon returning to Queen Anne's County, Grason established a partnership with Richard B. Carmichael. During the summer of 1845, Grason moved to Elkton in Cecil County, Maryland, where he opened a law office. He served as state's attorney for Cecil County from 1851, until he moved to Towson, Maryland, in 1857. In 1859, he ran for state's attorney in Baltimore County, but lost to Richard J. Gittings. He ran again in 1863, and was imprisoned by the military the night before the election at the jail in Baltimore. He was released after the election, and no charges were ever made public.

In 1864, Richard Grason defeated James L. Ridgely for a seat on the bench of the Baltimore County Circuit Court by less than 100 votes. Governor Augustus W. Bradford granted Grason a commission, however, in January 1865, Ridgely challenged Grason's eligibility because of his southern sympathies and military action during the Baltimore riots in April 1861. The dispute went before the House of Delegates' Committee on Elections. Testimony given in February showed that Grason served as a Lieutenant in the Baltimore County Horse Guards, a group that included John Merryman. Witnesses testified that the guards were armed and destroyed railroad bridges in Baltimore, halting the advance of the United States Army. The committee stated in their opinion,

They were under arms with an object - that object was not the rendering of aid and assistance to the troops or lawful authorities of the United States...They did not, nor did any member of them, hold any friendly intercourse with Col. Wynkoop's Corps at Cockeysville. On the contrary, their position was a position of hostility to that Corps, while it remained, and their actions in following its retirement by the destruction of bridges, which might prevent its return, was palpable and unmistakable hostility to the United States Government and its lawful authorities.1
The committee ruled that under the provisions of Article I, Section 4 of the Maryland Constitution of 1864, Richard Grason was disqualified from holding the office to which he had been elected. James F. Lee, John H. Hodson, and Richard B. B. Chew filed a separate opinion stating that "the testimony offered is not sufficient to sustain the charges."2 A new state constitution adopted in 1867 removed the provisions which denied elected positions to anyone who supported the Confederate States of America. In 1867, Grason was nominated by the Democratic Convention for Chief Judge of the Third Judicial Circuit. He was elected, and served one fifteen-year term. He left the bench in 1882, and established a partnership with his son, William. At this time, he was also appointed Auditor to the Court, a position he held until his death in 1893.

A portrait of Richard Grason hangs in the Baltimore County Circuit Courthouse in Towson, in recognition of his years of service to the county and the state. Richard Grason's grandson, C. Gus Grason, also served on the bench of the Maryland Court of Appeals, from 1942 to 1951. Other descendants include judges John Grason Turnbull and John Grason Turnbull II.


1. Report on Contested Election Case of James L. Ridgely vs. Richard Grason  in  GENERAL ASSEMBLY, HOUSE OF DELEGATES (House Journal and Documents) 1865 AA, MdHR
812448, 2/1/7/30, page 6.

2. Minority Report in Case of James L. Ridgely vs. Richard Grason  in  GENERAL ASSEMBLY, HOUSE OF DELEGATES (House Journal and Documents) 1865 BB, MdHR 812449, 2/1/7/30.

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