Colonel Thomas Thomson

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Thomas Thomson (1813 - 1881)

Thomas Thomson was born in Tarbolton, Scotland on the 5th of June, 1813, and moved to Abbeville, South Carolina as child. He taught school for a time and studied law under the Honorable Armistead Burt. For many years he was associated with Colonel Robert A. Fair in the practice of his profession, the name of the firm being Thomson & Fair. At the bar he stood deservedly high, his tastes causing him to prefer civil practice. There was no lack of substantial recognition of his ability, and he amassed sufficient to make him independent of the chances of the future. In Abbeville district he had his home until the end. There he made his reputation, and there in consequence he was best known.

In 1846, Judge Thomson was elected a member of the State Legislature, distinguishing himself there by the cogency and brevity of his utterances. With the exception of two terms, he served continuously as Representative and afterwards as Senator until 1868. When the State seceded, exchanging the gown for the sword, he went into service as captain of an Infantry Company raised in Abbeville in the Second Regiment of Rifles, rising step by step to the rank of Colonel. His bravery was everywhere conspicuous, and he enjoyed the full confidence of his men. Upon his election as State Senator in 1862, Colonel Thomson resigned his commission in the Confederate Army.

He was a member of the cooperation convention in 1851 and as a member of the secession convention in 1860 signed the ordinance of secession. From the time of the dissolution of the State Government, prior to the Reconstruction of 1868, he remained in private life until February, 1878, when he was elected by the General Assembly Judge of the Eighth Judicial Circuit, receiving one hundred and thirty-seven of the one hundred and thirty-nine votes cast. The next month he was elected a Judge of the Court of Claims, before which the issues involving the validity of a portion of the State debt were tried. Judge Thomson delivered the leading opinion of the court, sustaining generally the report of the bond commission.

Judge Thomson was at one time, under the old judicial system, a prominent candidate for chancellor, and came very near an election. When the General Assembly was called on to elect circuit judges in 1878, Judge Thomson was looked upon as the man of all men to place upon the bench. In the discharge of his duties he was patient, courteous, conscientious, and painstaking.
Judge Thomson was an elder of the Presbyterian Church, enjoying the fullest confidence of his associates. The office of treasurer of the De La Howe fund he held for many years, and managed to protect it and keep it intact during the Radical era in South Carolina.

Judge Thomson was married first to Miss Eliza Allen. Three children of this marriage reached maturity. Second, to Mrs. M.M. Hollingsworth, whose maiden name was Gomillion. Of this marriage four children survived.

The death of Judge Thomson, which occurred at his home in Abbeville on May 6, 1881, was wholly unexpected; there was no illness or loss of mental vigor to prepare the public for the loss of one whose career was marked by eminent talent in his profession, by gallant service during the Confederate War, and in every relation of life by steady, modest worth. Not offensive or impulsive, he was amiable to those whom he liked and a firm friend of those whom he trusted.


Source: South Carolina Bench and Bar by Ulysses Robert Brooks (1908), pg 258-259.