James Kent (James Kent)

James Kent

Jurist, Scholar. Educated at Yale, he became a lawyer in 1785. Kent served in the State Assembly from 1791 to 1793, and in 1793 was appointed to the judicial position Master in Chancery. In 1793 he also became Columbia’s first law professor. In 1796 Kent was again elected to the Assembly, and in 1798 he was appointed a Justice of the state Supreme Court. He became Chief Justice in 1804 and served until 1814, when he was appointed Chancellor of the New York Court of Chancery.  After retiring from the bench in 1823 he resumed teaching.  Kent was America’s first legal scholar, and his Columbia lectures were the basis for his “Commentaries on American Law,”  the 1800s most widely used legal reference.  Kent began the practice of judges preparing written opinions when rendering decisions, advancing equity jurisprudence.  Equity jurisprudence includes having a body of written decisions and opinions to use when interpreting the law, ensuring a uniform standard between jurisdictions and over time.  Columbia’s Kent Hall and Chancellor Kent Professorship are named for him, as is Chicago-Kent Law School.  The New York towns of Kent and Port Kent are also named for him, as is Kent County, Michigan. (bio by: Bill McKern)  Family links:  Spouse:  Elizabeth Bailey Kent (1768 – 1851)* *Calculated relationship


  • July, 31, 1763
  • USA


  • December, 12, 1847
  • USA


  • Saint Lukes Church Cemetery
  • USA

2535 profile views