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John Middleton Clayton

July 24, 1796
November 9, 1856
Home Town:
Dagsborough, DE
Later Residences:
Dover, DE
New Castle, DE
Sally Fisher Clayton (September 12, 1822)
Biographical Notes:
John Middleton Clayton was the descendant of Joshua Clayton, a Quaker who had come with William Penn to Pennsylvania. His father's parents were James and Sarah (Middleton) Clayton. While Clayton was a boy his family moved to Milford, Kent County, DE. He attended academies in Berlin, MD and Lewes and Milford, DE. Clayton graduated from Yale with highest honors and during his junior year there had delivered an oration on "Military Glory." After attending the law school and passing the bar, Clayton began a law practice in Dover, DE as well as a long and prominent career in the Delaware government. Clayton was elected the Clerk of the State House of Representatives of DE. At first, due to "family" influence, he was a member of the Federalist Party but he later became a Whig. During this time he ...

Years at LLS:
Other Education:
Graduated from Yale College in 1815.

Profession / Service
Lawyer; Political Office
Admitted To Bar:
Delaware in 1819
Training with Other Lawyers:
He read the law in the office of his cousin Thomas Clayton. He also studied with Judge Noah Benedict in Woodbury CT, and with Nathaniel B. Smith and Truman Smith.
Political Party:
Opposition; Anti-Jacksonian; Whig
Federal Posts:
U.S. Senator (DE) 1829-1836, 1845-1849, 1853-1856
Secretary of State 1849-1850
Federal Committees:
Chariman of the Senate Judiciary Committee from 1833-1834 and in 1836.
State Posts:
Clerk of the State House of Representatives (DE) 1816-1817, 1819
Clerk of the State Senate (DE) 1830-1832
Auditor of Accounts (DE) 1821
State Representative (DE) 1822-1824
Secretary of State (DE) 1826-1828
Chief Justice of Supreme Court (DE) 1836-1839

Related Objects and Documents
help The Citation of Attendance provides primary source documentation of the student’s attendance at the Litchfield Female Academy and/or the Litchfield Law School. If a citation is absent, the student is thought to have attended but currently lacks primary source confirmation.

Records for the schools were sporadic, especially in the formative years of both institutions. If instructors kept comprehensive records for the Litchfield Female Academy or the Litchfield Law School, they do not survive. Researchers and staff have identified students through letters, diaries, family histories and genealogies, and town histories as well as catalogues of students printed in various years. Art and needlework have provided further identification of Female Academy Students, and Litchfield County Bar records document a number of Law School students. The history of both schools and the identification of the students who attended them owe credit to the early 20th century research and documentation efforts of Emily Noyes Vanderpoel and Samuel Fisher, and the late 20th century research and documentation efforts of Lynne Templeton Brickley and the Litchfield Historical Society staff.
Houghton, Josiah. "LLS Law Notebook 1817-1818." Litchfield Law School Collection, Series 1, Subseries 1, Litchfield Historical Society. Available online at

"Papers of John Middleton Clayton." Library of Congress
Secondary Sources:
Dexter, Franklin Bowditch. Biographical Sketches of the Graduates of Yale College with Annals of College History, Vol. 6. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1912. ; Hepburn, Henry F. The Clayton Family. Read Books, 2008.; Lewis, William Draper, ed. Great American Lawyers, Vol 3. Philadelphia: The John C. Winston Company, 1908.; Comegys, Joseph P. Memoir of John M. Clayton, Wilmington, DE: Historical Society of Delaware, 1882.

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