William Preston Bynum

Associate Justice - NC Supreme Court

Date Born: June 10, 1820

Date Died: December 30, 1909

Place Born: Stokes County, NC

Place Buried: Elmwood Cemetery in Charlotte, NC


Associate Justice 1871-1879

William Preston Bynum was born on June 10, 1820 near Germanton in Stokes County, NC, the son of Hampton Bynum and Mary Coleman (Martin) Bynum. He received a log-school education near Germanton before he entered Davidson College in 1837. On August 4, 1842, he graduated valedictorian of his class. He then read law under Richmond Mumford Pearson (future Chief Justice) and was admitted to the bar in Rutherfordton, NC, where he launched his law career.

William Preston Bynum soon moved to Lincoln County, where he continued his own private law practice until the start of the U.S. Civil War.

On December 2, 1846, William Preston Bynum married his cousin, Ann Eliza Shipp, daughter of Bartlett Shipp of Lincoln County, NC; they had one son and one daughter.

On May 8, 1861, William Preston Bynum was commissioned Lieutenant Colonel in the 2nd NC Regiment. He saw military action with the 2nd NC Regiment at the Seven Days' Battle, Mechanicsville, Cold Harbor, Malvern Hill, and Sharpsburg; the regiment was in reserve at Fredericksburg. When the 1st NC Regiment lost all regimental officers at Malvern Hill, Lt. Col. Bynum temporarily commanded it. When the 2nd NC Regiment's commander, Col. Charles Courtenay Tew, was killed at Sharpsburg, Lt. Col. Bynum took command. His military career ended on March 21, 1863, when he resigned after the legislature elected him Solicitor of the 7th Judicial District on December 2, 1862.

In 1865, William Preston Bynum was elected to represent Lincoln County in the 1865 NC Constitutional Convention. Also in 1865, William Preston Bynum was elected to represent the 47th NC Senate District (Catawba, Gaston, & Lincoln counties) in the NC Senate of the:
- 76th General Assembly that met from 1865 to 1866

In 1868, William Preston Bynum was again elected as Solicitor of the 7th Judicial District.

On November 20, 1873, William Preston Bynum resigned as Solicitor after being appointed by Gov. Tod Robinson Caldwell as an Associate Justice on the NC Supreme Court, replacing Associate Justice Nathaniel Boyden, who had recently died while on the bench. His term expired on January 6, 1879. His peers ranked him in company with Ruffin, Henderson, and Pearson as one of the ablest jurists to sit on the NC Supreme Court.

In 1879, William Preston Bynum moved his family to Charlotte, where he remained and continued his private law practice until his death. Having achieved financial independence, he was able to engage in philanthropy. On the death of his grandson, William Preston, at the University of North Carolina in 1891, William Preston Bynum built a gymnasium in his memory. He also constructed Episcopal chapels at the Thompson Episcopal Orphanage and in Greensboro.

On December 30, 1909, William Preston Bynum died, and he was buried in the Elmwood Cemetery in Charlotte, NC.

William P. Bynum was born in June of 1820 in Stokes County. He graduated at Davidson College with the highest honors in 1843; he read law with Justice Richmond Pearosn, with whom he afterwards sat on the NC Supreme Court; he was admitted to the bar in 1844. His license was the last signed by the lamented William Gaston, who died so suddenly.

In 1861, he was appointed by Governor John W. Ellis as a Lt. Colonel of the 2nd North Carolina Regiment. His future associate on the Supreme Court, William T. Faircloth, was quartermaster of this regiment. Bynum was in the battles around Richmond and at the first battle of Fredericksburg. After the death of Col. Tew, he became the regiment's new Colonel.

Early in 1863, he was elected Solicitor and returned home. He filled that position for eleven years, until he was appointed to the Supreme bench on the death of Associate Justice Nathaniel Boyden, and served until the expiration of his term on January 1, 1879, when he returned to practice in Charlotte, where he died on December 30, 1909, in his 90th year.

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