William Haywood Bobbitt

19th NC Supreme Court Chief Justice

Date Born: Octoer 18, 1900

Date Died: September 27, 1992

Place Born: Raleigh, NC

Place Buried: Elmwood Cemetery in Charlotte, NC


Chief Justice 1969-1975
Associate Justice 1954-1969

William Haywood Bobbitt was born on October 18, 1900 in Raleigh, NC, the son of James Henry Bobbitt and Eliza May (Burkhead) Bobbitt. His parents moved to Baltimore, MD for a while, and he developed a critical illness; the family was told he would not recover, but he did. Hem however, had to learn anew how to walk. When Bobbitt was seven, his mother died from complications of childbirth. When he was around twelve, his father sold the patent medicine rights to a large company, and the family returned first to Raleigh, then to Charlotte.

William Haywood Bobbitt first attended public schools in Baltimore, MD, then completed his secondary education in the public schools of Charlotte, NC. He then spent three years in the general college and one year in the law school at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, NC.

During World War I, William Haywood Bobbitt accepted an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. When the war ended, he resigned and returned to the University of North Carolina, where he became President of the Dialectic Society in his senior year. He graduated in 1921. He then returned to Charlotte and "read law" in the offices of Stewart & McRae until he was old enough to take the NC bar examination. Following his successful completion of the bar exam, Bobbitt was administered the oath as an attorney by Superior Court Judge Thomas Finley.

Licensed to practice law in January of 1922, William Haywood Bobbitt was first associated with firm of Stewart & McRae until September of 1922; then a member of the firm of Parker, Stewart, McRae & Bobbitt until October of 1925; then a member of the firm Stewart, McRae & Bobbitt until October of 1930; and finally, a member of the firm Stewart & Bobbitt until December of 1938.

On February 28, 1924, William Haywood Bobbitt married Sarah Buford Dunlap; they had four known children.

In 1938, William Haywood Bobbitt was elected as a Judge on the NC Superior Court for the 14th Judicial District. He served from January 1, 1939 to January 31, 1954.

On February 1, 1954, Governor William Bradley Umstead appointed William Haywood Bobbitt as an Associate Justice on the NC Supreme Court, taking the seat of Chief Justice William Augustus Devin, who had resigned on January 30, 1954, and was replaced by Chief Justice Maurice Victor Barnhill. He continued as Associate Justice until 1969.

In 1957, the University of North Carolina awarded William Haywood Bobbitt an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. They also awarded him the Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1976, and the Law School's Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1981.

Also in 1957, Davidson College awarded him an hororary Doctors of Law degree.

On November 13, 1969, Governor Robert Walter Scott appointed William Haywood Bobbitt as the next Chief Justice of the NC Supreme Court, replacing Chief Justice Robert Hunt Parker, who had died on November 10, 1969. He was sworn in on November 17, 1969, and he remained as Chief Justice until December 31, 1974, when his term ended after reaching the mandatory retirement age.

On September 27, 1992, William Haywood Bobbitt died in Raleigh, NC, and he was later buried in the Elmwood Cemetery in Charlotte, NC.

Appointed as Chief Justice by Governor Robert W. Scott on November 13, 1969.
William Haywood Bobbitt (October 18, 1900 - September 27, 1992), was an American jurist and Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court. Bobbitt was born in 1900 in Raleigh, North Carolina and earned his law degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Bobbitt was elected a Superior Court Judge and served with distinction from 1939 to 1954. In 1952, he was unsuccessful in a run for Supreme Court Asssociate Justice (losing to R. Hunt Parker), but in 1954, Governor William B. Umstead appointed him to replace Associate Justice Maurice V. Barnhill, who had just become Chief Justice. In 1969, Governor Robert W. Scott appointed Bobbitt to the top job following the death of Chief Justice R. Hunt Parker. Mandatory retirement age forced Bobbitt to step aside in 1974. He died in Raleigh.

Son of James Henry Bobbitt and Eliza May Burkhead. Attended graded schools of Baltimore, MD; Charlotte (NC) High School 1913-1917; A.B., University of North Carolina 1921; University of North Carolina Law School 1920-1921.

Licensed to practice law in January 1922. Associated with firm of Stewart & McRae until September 1922; member of the firm of Parker, Stewart, McRae & Bobbitt until October 1925; member of the firm Stewart, McRae & Bobbitt until October 1930; member of the firm Stewart & Bobbitt until December 1938.

Admitted to practice law in State Courts of North Carolina, United States District Court, United States Circuit Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit, and the Supreme Court of the United States.

Member of the Mecklenburg Bar Association; member of the American Judicature Society.

Received honorary LLD degrees from Davidson College in 1953, and the University of North Carolina in 1957.

Member NC Commission to study Improvement of Administration of Justice in NC 1947-1949; NC Judicial Council 1949-1954; Past President and life member of the Charlotte Civitan Club; Trustee of Brevard College 1933-1952; President, General Alumni Association, University of North Carolina 1954-1955.

Elected resident Superior Court Judge of the 14th Judicial District in 1938 and again in 1946; served from January 1, 1939 to January 1954.

February 1, 1954, appointed as an Associate Justice for the NC Supreme Court by Governor William B. Umstead, elected in November of 1954 to fill the vacancy of Associate Justice Maurice V. Barnhill.

Married Sarah Buford Dunlap on February 28, 1924. Children: Mrs. John W. Carter of Morganton, NC; William H. Bobbitt, Jr.; Mrs. Ekkehart Sachtler of Midland Park, NJ; Mrs. D.S. Moss of Enfield, NC.

<< Previous Chief Justice - Robert H. Parker

Next Chief Justice - Susie M. Sharpe >>

© 2015 - J.D. Lewis - PO Box 1188 - Little River, SC 29566 - All Rights Reserved