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Harry Innes (January 4, 1752 – September 20, 1816) was a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Kentucky.

Harry Innes
A balding man wearing a black jacket and white shirt
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Kentucky
In office
September 26, 1789 – September 20, 1816
Appointed byGeorge Washington
Preceded bySeat established by 1 Stat. 73
Succeeded byRobert Trimble
Personal details
Harry Innes

(1752-01-04)January 4, 1752
Caroline County,
Colony of Virginia,
British America
DiedSeptember 20, 1816(1816-09-20) (aged 64)
Frankfort, Kentucky
RelationsJohn Todd
John J. Crittenden
EducationCollege of William & Mary
read law

Education and careerEdit

Born on January 4, 1752, in Caroline County, Colony of Virginia, British America,[1] Innes attended the College of William & Mary and read law in 1772, with George Wythe.[1][2] He was admitted to the bar in 1773[2] and entered private practice in Bedford County, Colony of Virginia (State of Virginia, United States from July 4, 1776) from 1775 to 1776.[1] From 1776 to 1777, he was employed by the Virginia Committee of Safety to superintend the working of the Chiswell lead mines on the New River, in what was then Fincastle (now Wythe) County and to procure the necessary army supplies for the Continental Army.[2] In 1778, he was appointed deputy attorney for Bedford County by Governor Patrick Henry.[2] In 1779, the Virginia legislature appointed Innes as commissioner to settle claims to the unpatented lands around Abingdon.[2] In that same year, he was appointed escheator for Bedford County by Governor Thomas Jefferson.[2] Since he was so successful in collecting taxes, he was appointed, on March 27, 1782, to be the superintendent over the commissioners of six counties.[2] In the fall of 1782, Innes was elected by the Virginia Legislature as an Assistant Judge of the Supreme Court of Judicature for the District of Kentucky.[2] On November 3, 1782, Innes entered upon the duties of his commission at Crow's Station (near present day Danville) in conjunction with Judges Caleb Wallace and Samuel McDowell, but he did not move to the District of Kentucky until 1783.[2] He was Attorney General for the District of Kentucky from 1784 to 1789.[1]

Other activitiesEdit

Concurrent with his service as a Judge and later as Attorney General, Innes practiced law, farmed, speculated in land and raised a family.[2] He became a trustee of Transylvania University and an honored charter member of the Political Club of Danville.[2] A scholar and lover of books, he built a distinguished library.[2]

Agitation for independence of Kentucky from Virginia and anti-federalismEdit

Innes was convinced that Kentucky's destiny lay in separation from Virginia. Decisions of the Kentucky courts were not final, and appeals had to be carried over the mountains to Richmond.[2] There was no executive authority in Kentucky nor any authority to call out the militia to protect the citizens from Indian attacks.[2] Innes joined the movement for immediate and unconditional separation from Virginia.[2] It took eight years and ten conventions before the parties (United States, Virginia, and Kentucky) could agree upon terms of separation.[2] A constitution was finally written and approved before Kentucky attained statehood.[2] Innes was a member of eight of these conventions and president of the first electoral college for the choice of governor and lieutenant governor under the first state constitution.[2]

Even though Innes and Patrick Henry disagreed over Kentucky independence, they both were opposed to the ratification of the Constitution.[2] Considered Anti-federalists and later Democratic-Republicans, Innes, and fellow Kentuckians: John Brown, Thomas Todd, George Nicholas, John Breckinridge and Henry Clay looked to Thomas Jefferson for leadership in the emerging national party structure.[2] Opposed to their politics was the Marshall family, headed by Colonel Thomas Marshall and included the future chief justice, John Marshall.[2] The Marshall family became the nucleus of the Federalist Party in Kentucky and provided the core for other groups who opposed Jeffersonian politics.[2]

Federal judicial serviceEdit

Innes was nominated by President George Washington on September 24, 1789, to the United States District Court for the District of Kentucky, to a new seat authorized by 1 Stat. 73.[1] He was confirmed by the United States Senate on September 26, 1789, and received his commission the same day.[1] His service terminated on September 20, 1816, due to his death in Frankfort, Kentucky.[1]

Judiciary Act of 1801Edit

The Judiciary Act of 1801 (2 Stat. 89) abolished the United States District Court for the District of Kentucky on February 13, 1801, and assigned Innes to serve as a United States District Judge of the United States Circuit Court for the Sixth Circuit.[1] The Act was repealed on March 8, 1802, reestablishing the United States District Court for the District of Kentucky as of July 1, 1802.[1]


Innes was the son of Reverend Robert Innes, an Episcopal clergyman, and a native of Scotland, and Catharine (Richards) Innes, a native Virginian.[2] Innes was educated at Donald Robertson's school and at the College of William & Mary.[2] He was a schoolmate of the future president, James Madison.[2] Innes was married twice.[2] His first wife was Elizabeth Calloway, daughter of Colonel James Calloway, of Bedford County, Virginia.[2] She died in 1791.[2] They had four daughters.[2] He later married Mrs. Ann Shield, widow of Dr. Hugh Shield, and they had one child, Maria, who married John Todd and after his death, John J. Crittenden.[2] They also raised a daughter from Ann's first marriage.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Harry Innes at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae "Harry Innes biography". United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.


External linksEdit