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Francis Lynde Stetson


Centurion, 1878–1920

Born 23 April 1846 in Keeseville, New York

Died 5 December 1920 in New York (Manhattan), New York

Buried Williams College Cemetery, Williamstown, Massachusetts

Proposed by William C. Whitney and James C. Carter

Elected 1 November 1878 at age thirty-two

Archivist’s Note: Uncle of Allen Wardwell

Century Memorial

Two professional careers which have left their mark on American jurisprudence ended when Francis Lynde Stetson and John Woodruff Simpson left us. Each of these eminent lawyers possessed a singularly acute mind, each was accustomed to deal in large corporate undertakings, and each had great vision in foreseeing difficulties which might arise in the future and in making provision adequate to meet them, in the various contracts and instruments they were called upon to frame. Both Simpson and Stetson were quiet, self-contained, well-balanced men; both, wide readers. Simpson had perhaps the more acute and subtle sense of humor of the two, but his humor, though incisive, was always kindly. In early middle life he was greatly crippled with rheumatism, and that affliction served to withdraw him from active participation with lawyers in their associations and meetings.

Stetson, on the other hand, as he grew older, seemed to seek more intimate association with the younger men at the bar. He watched very keenly all new developments in the law; keeping himself thoroughly informed as to all the decisions of the highest courts of the different States and of the Supreme Court of the United States. In the spring of 1916, a committee of the Bar Association procured a number of addresses to be delivered before it on some legal phases of corporate financing, reorganization, and regulation. Of these addresses, the first two were delivered by Stetson, February 9 and 16, 1916. There was gathered to hear him one of the largest audiences which ever assembled in the auditorium of the Bar Association. The address which he delivered was characterized by the lucidity which was Stetson’s special gift in his professional work, and many of the younger practitioners nowadays study these lectures with great care, because they find in them practical suggestions of a helpful character, such as cannot be found in any law book.

Stetson was always kind and helpful to younger lawyers. He once remarked to a legal associate that he had at one time or another been called upon to advise almost every member of the bar in a personal way. This was the sympathetic quality of his character. Simpson, on the other hand, as he grew older retired more and more from contact with the outside world. He was a man of quiet scholarly tastes, very fond of certain artistic work; having, for instance, an unusually fine collection of Whistler etchings. It is the testimony of his friends that whoever really came to know Simpson found under a very reserved exterior an exceedingly warm Scotch nature and was led to believe that if it had not been for his physical infirmity, he would have been active in his contact with the world in his later years.

Alexander Dana Noyes
1921 Century Association Yearbook