Charles Andrews was one of the longest serving judges in the history of the Court of Appeals. At 26, he became the youngest elected District Attorney of Onondaga County, and at 43 was elected to the Court of Appeals. A man of extraordinary vitality, he served for 27 years, covering 112 volumes of the New York reports. As if to punctuate this point, his son, William S. Andrews, served on the Court from 1917 to 1928. After Judge Charles Andrews was forced to retire from the bench because of the constitutional age limit, he continued to remain active.
Even up until a few years before his death at the age of ninety-one, Judge Andrews regularly engaged in outdoor activities, such as horseback riding. When advancing years finally compelled him to retire from physical activities, he refused to retire his intellect, believing it a perilous and fatal thing for an old man to still his mind. Once, upon reading an article announcing his friend’s retirement, Andrews entered his friend’s office, waived the article before his friend’s eyes, and voiced, “What is this I hear? What is this I see?”
Judge Andrews outlived all the members who sat in the Court when he joined it. Of the judges sitting when he left it, not one was on the Court and only two had survived. His friends and associates remembered his dignity, his kindness, his patience, and his serenity. Judge Alton B. Parker reflected:
He was pre-eminently fitted for a judicial career, and wore the ermine with infinite grace. His legal capacity was indeed great, his learning profound, his courtesy unfailing, his intelligence most keen, his integrity irreproachable, his work conscientious and his opinions ever rank with the highest of our authorities. His even justice, broad charity and invariable kindliness were an inspiration to the bench and bar.
Born in Oneida County on May 27, 1827, Andrews graduated from the Seminary of the Oneida Conference at Cazenovia, and studied law in the office of Sedgwick & Outwater in Syracuse. After his admission to the bar in January 1849, Andrews embarked on a successful legal career, making significant contributions to the then young city of Syracuse. In 1851, Andrews and Charles B. Sedgwick formed a law firm there, which George N. Kennedy joined in 1855. Well known for its prominence and ability, the firm continued until Andrews’ election to the Court of Appeals in 1870. Notably, Sedgwick and Kennedy became Supreme Court justices.
In 1853, Andrews was elected District Attorney of Onondaga County, serving for three years. In 1861 and 1862, Andrews served as the first “war mayor” of Syracuse. During this time, he actively participated in the efforts of his war committee to stimulate recruitment, which resulted in two full regiments being formed within a short time, and his patriotic efforts succeeded in repressing attempted disruptions by local “Copperheads.” After gaining Statewide attention from his vigorous administration of affairs, Andrews served as a Delegate at large to New York’s 1867 Constitutional Convention.
In 1868, Andrews was again elected Mayor of Syracuse, and served until he was elected as an associate judge on the Court of Appeals in 1870. The Court had been reorganized by amendment to the Constitution, and Andrews became a member of the newly established Court.
In 1881, Governor Alonzo B. Cornell appointed Andrews as Chief Judge to succeed Chief Judge Charles J. Folger (1818-1884), who had resigned to accept the office of Secretary of the United States Treasury. In 1882, the Republican party nominated Andrews for the Chief Judgeship, but he was defeated by his next door neighbor, William C. Ruger (1824-1892). That year the entire Republican ticket was defeated by tremendous majorities, in consequence of Republican factional quarrels, and Grover Cleveland was elected New York’s Governor. Notably, the votes against Andrews were significantly less than those against the head of the ticket. After his defeat, Judge Andrews resumed his place as associate judge and at the end of his first term in 1885 was reelected as associate judge for a second term of fourteen years.
In 1892, Andrews was elected Chief Judge to succeed Chief Judge Ruger, who died in January of that year. On December 31, 1897, after 27 years of service, Andrews retired from the bench at the age of seventy.
After his retirement, Andrews lived his remaining years in Syracuse, whose citizens held him in rare honor and affection, referring to him as the “first citizen of Syracuse.” Andrews did not engage in the active practice of law, but worked on important cases in which his legal opinions were solicited. Theodore Roosevelt advanced him as a possible candidate for Governor.
Outside of his legal career, Andrews enjoyed travel, fishing, and horseback riding. He could often be seen riding his horse through the streets of Syracuse or driving about with his wife in their carriage, which they preferred to the automobile. He was a fluent and eloquent public speaker.
Judge Andrews devoted much of his time and energy to education and the church. From the time of its foundation in 1879, Andrews served as one of the trustees of Syracuse University, and continued in that capacity until 1918. The university conferred on him a degree of Doctor of Letters; Hamilton, Columbia, and Yale awarded him the degree of Doctor of Laws.
A devoted member of the Episcopal church, Andrews attended his parish duties regularly, serving as vestryman, warden, and senior warden at St. Paul’s church in Syracuse. For many years he was a delegate to the diocesan convention of the Episcopal diocese of Central New York and served as chancellor of the diocese.
Judge Andrews also served as member of various ecclesiastical courts. In this capacity, he considered some of the most important crises which confronted the church in America, including the trial of Dr. Cropsey for heresy in Rochester. He died on October 22, 1918, and is buried at Oakwood Cemetery in Syracuse.
He is well remembered around Onondaga County and beyond. The Charles Andrews Elementary School was located on Salt Springs Road in Syracuse. Bruce Andrews, a descendant of Judge Charles Andrews, attended the school for several years. It has since been converted to senior citizen housing, called “Brick School Terrace,” although “Charles Andrews School” is still engraved on the front of the building.
In 1855, Andrews married Marcia Shankland, the daughter of Supreme Court Justice William H. Shankland (1804-1883), who served on the Court of Appeals, ex-officio, in 1849 and 1857. They had two sons: Judge William S. Andrews and Attorney Charles Walker Andrews. William S. Andrews, well known for his dissenting opinion in the famous Palsgraf case (248 NY 339 ), served on the Court of Appeals from 1917 to 1928.
Judge Charles Andrews was also survived by four grandchildren: Paul Shipman Andrews (1887-1967)—son of William S. Andrews—and Ann Hyde Allen, John Cheney and Charles Walker Andrews, II—the children of Charles Walker Andrews. Paul Shipman Andrews had two sons: Rev. Nigel Lyon Andrews (1921-2006) and Attorney William Shankland Andrews, II (1925- ).
Rev. Nigel Lyon was survived by three children: Richard (Pete) Andrews (1944- ), Paul Shipman Andrews, II (1947- ), and John A. Andrews (1953- ). Paul Shipman Andrews’s other son, William S. Andrews, II practices law in Syracuse. His children include Nancy, David, Ross, and Bruce Andrews.
Charles Walker Andrews’s grandchildren include the following: Marcia Allen Kelly; Mary Ann Allen Marcus; Dr. Richard F. Allen; Christine Andrews-Dascher; John W. Andrews; Charles Walker Andrews, III; Kenneth C. Andrews; and Leslie H. Andrews Gamble. Other progeny include: Sarah Huntington Andrews; Amber H. Roehrich; Christopher P. M. Andrews; Paul G. C. Andrews; Elizabeth A. Andrews; Camille A. Mathey-Andrews; Nicolas Mathey-Andrews; Hunter C. Andrews; Mark R. Andrews; Ella S. Andrews; Dahlia H. Andrews; Kenneth R. Gamble; Douglas L. Gamble; Jordan Gamble; Genevieve M. Andrews; Jacqueline M. Andrews; Mary E. Andrews; and Lindy M. Andrews.
This biography appears in The Judges of the New York Court of Appeals: A Biographical History, ed. Hon. Albert M. Rosenblatt (New York: Fordham University Press, 2007). It has not been updated since publication.
Bergan, The History of the New York Court of Appeals, 1847-1932, (1985).
Chadbourne’s Public Service of the State of New York, at 12-13 (1882).
The Chief Judgeship of the Court of Appeals, 55 Alb LJ 204 (1897).
Current Topics, 1 Alb LJ 356 (1870).
Current Topics, 56 Alb LJ 145 (1897-1898).
Current Topics, 56 Alb LJ 433 (1897-1898).
Harper’s Weekly, October 8, 1870, at 653.
In Memoriam, 224 NY 734 (1918).
Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly Newspaper, September 14, 1916.
New York Court of Appeals Vacancy, 56 Alb LJ 241 (1897-1898).
New York Times and Syracuse Herald obituaries, October 23, 1918.
Prominent Men Pay Glowing Tribute to Memorable Life of Late Chief Judge Andrews, Syracuse Post-Standard, November 11, 1918.
Rosendale, Chief Judge Andrews and the Court of Appeals, 56 Alb LJ 436 (1897-1898).
There Shall be a Court of Appeals, 150th Anniversary of the Court of Appeals of the State of New York, (1997).
American Jurisprudence: An Address Delivered Before the Graduating Classes at the Seventy-Fourth Anniversary of Yale Law School, on June 27th, 1898, Connecticut (1898).
Hobart College Commencement, Tribute to Charles James Folger, 32 Alb LJ 33 (1885).
As with other judges long departed, this may be only a partial list of his writings.
- 43 NY to 154 NY.
- See Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly Newspaper, September 14, 1916, at 288 (depicting Judge Andrews taking his morning ride on his favorite horse).
- Prominent Men Pay Glowing Tribute to Memorable Life of Late Chief Judge Andrews, Syracuse Post-Standard, November 11, 1918.
- See Harper’s Weekly, October 8, 1870, at 653; 1 Alb LJ 356 (1870).
- See 55 Alb LJ 204 (1897); 56 Alb LJ 145 (1897-1898); 56 Alb LJ 241 (1897-1898); 56 Alb LJ 433 (1897-1898).
- See, Autobiography of Andrew Dickson White, Chapter XIV.