South Carolina Supreme Court Justices

John Belton O'Neall
Date Born: April 10, 1793

 Date Died: December 27, 1863

Place Born: Newberry County, SC

Place Buried: Rosemont Cemetery, Newberry, SC


Chief Justice 1859-1863

John Belton O'Neall was born a Quaker on April 10, 1793 on the Bush River in Newberry County, the son of Hugh O'Neall and Anne (Kelly) O'Neall. His early education included the Newberry Academy led by Rev. John Foster. He graduated from South Carolina College (now the University of South Carolina) in December of 1812 and began teaching at the Newberry Academy for about six months in 1813.

He also served in the SC Militia as an artilleryman from 1813 to 1814 under Col. Starling Tucker. Later in 1814 he was elected Captain of the Artillery Company based in the Newberry District.

John Belton O'Neall studied law under John Caldwell and Anderson Crenshaw, and he was admitted to practice law in South Carolina in May of 1814.

He continued his education at South Carolina College and acquired a M.A. degree in December of 1816.

In 1816, John Belton O'Neall was elected as one of four men to represent Newberry District in the SC House of Representatives in the:
- 22nd General Assembly that met from 1816 to 1817
- 25th General Assembly that met from 1822 to 1823
- 26th General Assembly that met from 1824 to 1825 - elected Speaker of the House
- 27th General Assembly that met from 1826 to 1828 - elected Speaker of the House

On August 7. 1817, he was promoted to Colonel of the 8th and 39th Regiments of Militia. In December of 1817, he was also elected as a trustee to his alma mater, the South Carolina College.

On June 25, 1818, John Belton O'Neall married Helen Pope, daughter of Captain Sampson Pope and his wife, Sarah Strother Pope of Edgefield.

In February of 1823, John Belton O'Neall was elected Brigadier General of the 10th Brigade, 5th Division of the South Carolina Militia, and on August 20, 1865 he was elected Major General of the 5th Division.

On December 20, 1828, John Belton O'Neall was elected as Associate Judge. He rode the Southern, Western, and Middle circuits, and in the fall of 1830 commenced the Northern circuit.

On December 1, 1830, John Belton O'Neall was elected a judge of the SC Court of Appeals.

In May of 1850, John Belton O'Neall was elevated to the President of the SC Court of Appeals upon the death of Judge Richardson.

In 1858, John Belton O'Neall published "The Annals of Newberry - Historical, Biographical, and Anecdotical."

In December of 1859, following reforms to South Carolina's judicial branch, he was elected to serve as Chief Justice and President of the South Carolina Court of Appeals, the highest court of the state.

John Belton O'Neall excelled as a lecturer and as author of many articles and books, including "The Annals of Newberry" and "The Bench and Bar of South Carolina." He served as a trustee of South Carolina College for 40 years, and was the first President of the Greenville & Columbia (G&C) Railroad Company in May of 1847, a position he held until May of 1853.

John Belton O'Neall died on December 27, 1863, and is buried in Rosemont Cemetery in Newberry, SC.


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