Benjamin W. Lacy

Benjamin Watkins Lacy (January 27, 1839 – May 15, 1895) was an American politician and Virginia lawyer, Confederate officer and jurist.[1]

Benjamin W. Lacy
Benjamin Lacy.jpg
Justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia
In office
January 1, 1883 – January 1, 1895
Preceded byWalter Redd Staples
Succeeded byJames Keith
33rd Speaker of the Virginia
House of Delegates
In office
December 3, 1879 – March 9, 1880
Preceded byHenry C. Allen
Succeeded byIsaac C. Fowler
Member of the Virginia House of Delegates
from the New Kent and Charles Counties district
In office
January 1, 1874 – December 6, 1881
Preceded byW. H. Patterson
Succeeded byWilliam N. Tinsley
Personal details
Born(1839-01-27)January 27, 1839
New Kent County, Virginia, U.S.
DiedMay 15, 1895(1895-05-15) (aged 56)
New Kent County, Virginia
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Sarah Rebecca Osborne
Alma materUniversity of Virginia
Military service
Allegiance Confederate States of America
Years of service1861-1865
Unit3rd Virginia Cavalry
Battles/warsBattle of Nance's Shop (1864),
Battle of Kelly's Ford(1863)

Early and family lifeEdit

Lacy was born on the family plantation, Ellsworth, in New Kent County, Virginia, the son of lawyer and future delegate Richmond Terrell Lacy (1800-1877) and his wife the former Ellen Green Lane (1815-1875). The firstborn son received his early education from his mother, after which he attended Pike Powers Academy in Staunton and Brown and Tebbs Academy in Albemarle County. He had an elder sister Sally E. Lacy (1837 – 1896), as well as a younger sister Ellen G. Lacy (1840 – 1896) and two younger brothers Richmond Terrell Lacy (1842 – 1903, who became a Commonwealth Attorney) and Thomas Hugo Lacy (1848 – 1928, who became an Episcopal priest). Completing his formal education at the University of Virginia, Lacy then read law under his father's guidance.[2]

On November 14, 1878, he married Sarah Rebecca Osborne 1858 – 1936), daughter of a Presbyterian minister. They had four children who survived their father.[3]

Confederate military serviceEdit

Lacy enlisted in the Confederate States Army on April 19, 1861, a week after the bombardment of Fort Sumter. Initially a private, he rose to captain his company in the 3rd Virginia Cavalry. He was wounded three times, severely in the skirmishes at Kelly's Ford in 1863 and Nance's Shop in his home county in 1864. Lacy remained in the Army of Northern Virginia until it surrendered at Appomattox Court House.


After the war, Lacy refreshed his studies, was admitted to the Virginia bar in 1866 and practiced law together with his father. In 1870, he was appointed to the county court of Charles City and New Kent Counties and remained there for three years until the General Assembly reorganized the judiciary.

Voters then elected Lacy to the Virginia House of Delegates to represent Charles and New Kent counties (part time). Although the area had been Republican, he ran and won as a Democrat with Readjuster sympathies, and served from 1874–1880. He won re-election several times (although in 1877 he successfully challenged the seating of John M. Gregory to represent the district). During his last term, fellow delegates elected Lacy their 33rd Speaker (1879-1881).[4]

During that term, fellow legislators elected him, in 1880, to the Eighth Circuit Court to fill the seat vacated by Robert L. Montague, who had died in office. Lacy resigned his part time legislative position upon taking the trial court bench. J. Marshall Hanger, although of the opposing party, offered a resolution praising his faithfulness and integrity as Speaker.

In 1882, the Virginia General Assembly elected four members to the Supreme Court of Appeals for twelve year terms effective January 1, 1883. Lacy, Thomas T. Fauntleroy, Drury A. Hinton and Robert A. Richardson remained on the appellate bench together until five successors took office in January 1895.(thus the succession box above is arbitrary)

Death and legacyEdit

During the final months of his term, Lacy suffered a lingering illness, and died at the age of 56 his New Kent County home, Marl Springs, on May 15, 1895. He was survived by his wife and four children, as well as his siblings, and buried at St. Peter's Episcopal Church.[3]


  1. ^ Jamerson, Bruce F., Clerk of the House of Delegates, supervising (2007). Speakers and Clerks of the Virginia House of Delegates, 1776-2007. Richmond, Virginia: Virginia House of Delegates.
  2. ^ Lacy memorial in 91 Virginia Reports pp. v-xvi, available at
  3. ^ a b "Judge Benjamin Watkins Lacy (1839-1895) - Find A..." Retrieved 1 December 2017.
  4. ^ Cynthia Miller Leonard, Virginia's General Assembly 1619-1978 (Richmond, Virginia State Library 1978) pp. xv, 517, 521, 525, 529, 530
Political offices
Preceded by
Henry C. Allen
Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates
Succeeded by
Isaac C. Fowler