William A. Grimshaw, Prominent Pike County, Illinois, Pioneer, Attorney and Civic Leader

William Grimshaw was born in Philadelphia in 1813 and was educated as a lawyer, passing the bar at age 19. He migrated to Pike County Illinois in 1833 when the area was still on the frontier of the American West. There he became prominent in politics and civic affairs, including representation of Pike County at the Illinois 1847 Constitutional Convention. William also enjoyed close and lengthy professional relationship with Abraham Lincoln. William was the oldest son of William Grimshaw, the noted historical author, and his first wife, Harriet Elizabeth Milligan.


Webpage Credit

Photos of William Grimshaw and His Third Wife

Migration to Illinois

Career in Civic Affairs and Politics

Grimshaw Information in Chapman’s “History of Pike County, Illinois”

Additional Biography of William Grimshaw

William Grimshaw’s Home in Pittsfield

William’s 1876 Centennial Address for Pike County, Illinois

Where Are Pittsfield, Illinois and William Grimshaw’s Residence?

William’s Brother, Jackson Grimshaw, Another Prominent Illinois Attorney

William’s Origins and Descendant Chart


Webpage Credit

Thanks to Hilary Tulloch for providing family history records that include William Grimshaw. Thanks also to Bill and Sylvia Grote for providing a photograph of William and to Judi Gilker and Rhonda Miller for providing a photo of William’s third wife.

Photos of William Grimshaw and His Third Wife

Photos of William and his third wife, Almarina Emaulette Webb Campbell, are included in Figure 1 below.

Figure 1. Photos of William Arthur Grimshaw. (Photo courtesy of Bill and Sylvia Grote) and his third wife, Almarina Emaulette Webb Campbell, (Photo courtesy of Judi Gilker and Rhonda Miller.)

William’s Migration to Illinois

William migrated west to Illinois in 1833 and was joined there by other family members, including siblings Harriet and Jackson, and a cousin, John Usher Grimshaw. John was William Arthur’s cousin (son of his father’s brother, Thomas, and Elizabeth [Blizard] Grimshaw). William’s second wife, Margaret Grimshaw, was the daughter of John U. Grimshaw.

Career in Civic Affairs and Politics

William Arthur was a successful lawyer in Illinois and served in many civic positions, including President of the State Board of Charities. William’s highly successful career is described in the following biography in Chapman’s History of Pittsfield1 (p. 681-82).

Hon. Wm. A. Grimshaw, attorney at law, is the son of William Grimshaw, who was an early and distinguished historian, having written and published the first History of the United States, a History of South America, of England, of France, a Life of Napoleon and other works, besides compiling histories of Greece, Rome, etc. It is said that at one time he had an income from his works of about $4,000 a year. He died in 1851. Wm. A.’s mother was Harriet, a native of  Charleston, S.C., and daughter of James Milligan, a Captain in the Pennsylvania line in the American Revolution. Mr. Grimshaw was admitted to the bar at 19 years of age, in Philadelphia, and in May, 1833, he arrived in Pike county, Ill., and in November following he received license from the Supreme Court to practice law. This year he was also appointed Adjutant of the 17th Illinois Militia, and he often held with his Colonel, Benj. Barney, regimental and battalion trainings in this county. Mr. G. has probably held more commissions from State Governors than any other citizen of Pike county, — from Govs. Reynolds, Yates, Oglesby, Palmer and Cullom. Although a Whig in early day and Republican since, he has generally as a candidate for office run ahead of his ticket and sometimes been elected, even in a Democratic district. In 1847 he was elected delegate to the Constitutional Convention, the only Whig along with the three Democrats, Messrs. Archer, Montgomery Blair and Harvey Dunn, and was the author of that provision in the Constitution against dueling. He also favored such measures in that body as caused an advance in the State credit, the Illinois and Michigan canal bonds, for example, going up from 18 to 65 during the session of the Convention. Mr. G. was also a delegate to both conventions which nominated Lincoln for President, and to other conventions; was also a personal friend of Douglas , praising him for his support of the Union cause. As an attorney Mr. Grimshaw had been eminent, defending suits for the Sny Levee Commissioners, the T., W. & W. and C. & A. R.R. Cos., and the Mississippi Bridge Company at Louisiana, Mo. For 14 years, ending in 1857, he was in partnership with his brother, the late Jackson Grimshaw. He owns fine farms, takes great interest in the welfare of the county, has been President of the Agricultural Society, the Antiquarian Society, etc, etc.; has been Trustee of the State Institution for the Blind, and is a present a member of the State Board of Charities.

We noticed some interesting old books in Mr. Grimshaw’s library, as, Les Reports de Sr. Creswell Levinz, in three parts, printed in London in 1702; Law Commentaries or Reports of Edmund Plowden, printed at London in 1779; Les Reports des Divers Special Cases argue & adjuge en le Court del Bank Leroy et Auxy en le Co. Ba. & l’ Exchequer, etc., printed in London in 1714,_all these in the Norman or Law French language; also a copy of the Jurisconsult Exercitationes in which is contained that noted sentiment, “The air of England is too pure for slavery to breathe.”

William’s illustrious career is further described on a website as follows:

William Grimshaw lived at 750 West Perry. This stately home was built in 1847, and is still in the Grimshaw family. Recently restored, it is an early Illinois showpiece of history and period furniture. Grimshaw and Lincoln had several court cases together. William Grimshaw was one of the founders of the Illinois Republican Party and a delegate to the 1847 Constitutional Convention. Because of the close relationship between the two, there is little doubt that Lincoln was a frequent guest in the Grimshaw home. The Lincoln Legal Papers Project has discovered a federal court case in which William Grimshaw hired Lincoln to represent him.

William Grimshaw was also the Chairman of the East School Building Committee. He hired Chicago architect John M. Van Osdel to design the structure. Osdel is often called Illinois’ first architect and he designed The Palmer House in Chicago and the Governor’s Mansion in Springfield. The Pittsfield East School became a school for the county. Parents could board their children in Pittsfield so that they could attend this outstanding institution.

While in Washington, Nicolay wrote to Grimshaw, his personal friend, and appointed him his “power of attorney” to handle his personal affairs. This charred document, written entirely by Nicolay, recently emerged in Pittsfield. A fire in Grimshaw’s Pittsfield office destroyed many records from his early career. We can only surmise what yet-to-be-found letters between Grimshaw and Nicolay may tell of events in Pittsfield following Nicolay’s departure for Washington in 1860. Grimshaw saved all of his documents from the 1847 Constitutional Convention which fortunately survived the fire. According to Tom Schwartz, State Historian, “the Grimshaw manuscript collection is the only surviving set of working papers from the 1847 Illinois Constitutional Convention”. Through the generosity of the Grimshaw family and the cooperation of the Illinois State Historical Library, these historical documents will soon be microfilmed.

Source: http://www.pittsfieldil.org/abe.htm

Grimshaw Information in Chapman’s “History of Pike County, Illinois”1

William’s active civic life in Pike County and Pittsfield, and several items on his close relativeds, are well documented in Chapman’s history of the County. Shown below are most of the references to William and his relatives.

p. 221:

Wm. A. Grimshaw came to Pike county in 1833. For his biography see history of

Pittsfield township. John U. Grimshaw, cousin of the former, settled near Pittsfield in 1834, and afterward moved to town and for many years was an active merchant. He died many years since. Jackson Grimshaw, a brother of William A., was a resident ofPittsfield for 14 years, then of Quincy, Ills., where he died in December, 1875.

p. 307:

The Constitution of 1847 provided for township organization in those counties desiring it. (Hons. Wm. R. Archer and Wm. A. Grimshaw, both of this county, were members of the Convention framing this Constitution.)

p. 371:

Various Meetings Held In The County

The tocsin of war was sounded, meetings were held in every township, village and city, at which stirring and spirited addresses were made, and resolutions adopted admitting of but one interpretation, – that of unconditional allegiance and undying devotion to their country and their country’s flag; that, at whatever cost of blood or treasure, the stars and stripes, wherever floating, must be honored; and the supremacy of the law of the National Union sustained.

A Union meeting was held in Pittsfield April 20, 1861, the Chairmen of which were David A. Stanton, Wm. R. Wills and D. D. Hicks, and the Secretaries F. C. Brown and A. C. Matthews. The Committee on Resolutions were Wm. A. Grimshaw, C. L. Higbee, J. W. Mackintosh, D. B. Bush, jr., Nathan Kelly and Wm. Steers.

p. 402:

Hon. Wm. A. Grimshaw, the oldest practicing attorney of the county, ranks as one of the leading lawyers of the State; was admitted to the Bar in Philadelphia at the age of 19; in 1833 he came to Pike county, since which time he has been actively identified with almost every public interest of the county.

p. 654:

Mr. John U. Grimshaw had the first regular dry-goods store in town, near where L. Klemme’s building now stands, but also carried a stock of miscellaneous goods. He was an Irishman by birth, well educated, and with a high sense of business integrity. He has been dead for some years.

p. 664:

Here in the early day such lawyers as Lincoln, and Douglas, and Browning came to plead. Of the living representatives who have won distinction may be mentioned Hon. Milton Hay, now of Springfield; C.L. Higbee, Judge of the Appellate Court; Wm. A. Grimshaw, member of the State Board of Charities, ad (sic) who has filled many positions of honor in the State; Wm. R. Archer, State Senator for many years; Col. A. C. Matthews, Member of the Legislature; Scott Wike, late Member of Congress; Jas. S. Irwin, one of the ablest lawyers in the State; Richard B. Atkinson, ex-County Judge, and the veteran D.B. Bush. There are younger members of the Bar who bid fair to emulate the example of their seniors. Jefferson Orr, the District Attorney, is now filling his second term, and has proved an efficient and industrious officer. Hon. Strother Grigsby, the CountyJudge, has long been identified with the Bar. In his present position he has accomplished good work, and is the friendly adviser of all who appear in his Court.

p. 681, 682:

(biography of William as shown above)

William S. Grimshaw, druggist, original house of J.U. Grimshaw, grandfather of the present proprietor, who established himself here in 1835, his drug-store being the first in the city. He died in his city in 1848 and was succeeded by his son, T.C. Grimshaw, who conducted the business until 1868, when he sold out to Thomas Williamson and removed to the homestead. Subsequently the store fell into the hands of Adolph Fisher, who disposed of the stock to Wm. S. Grimshaw in 1876. The house carries a stock of $5,000, with average sales of $15,000 per year. It controls a large trade, and is one of the prosperous firms of the city.

p. 885:

Election Nov. 7, 1871 Congress

At large:


S. S. Hayes, dem



John L. Beveridge, rep



State Senator

Wm. H. Allen, dem



Wm. A. Grimshaw, rep



(Grimshaw lost by 227 votes, about 7% of the vote)

p 889:

In 1842 Mr. Michael J. Noyes started in Pittsfield The Sucker and Farmer’s Record, the first paper in the county. It was a weekly, and was edited by a very able man. In 1846 it was succeeded by The Free Press, which was established by Z. N. Garbutt, who had, most of the time as partner, Mr. M. H. Abbott. This was a good paper, having had at its head as much talent probably as any paper in this county has ever had. It was a Whig paper, with strong anti-slavery and temperance inclinations. Mr. Garbutt retired from it in 1849 and went into other business. A sketch of his life will be found on pages 397-8 of this volume. Some time afterward John G. Nicolay and Mr. Parks had the paper for a time, and then Nicolay alone.

The successor of The Free Press was The Pike County Journal, established by Daniel B. Bush, jr. (The second), and edited by him until a short time after the war broke out, when it was sold to Robert McKee, a cousin of the eminent Wm. McGee, of the St. Louis Globe Democrat, who recently died. In 1868 Messrs. McKee and Wm. A. Grimshaw gave the paper its present name, The Old Flag, which is indeed a very appropriate one for an organ which so boldly stands up for the flag of our country. The material of the office was subsequently owned for a time by the County Republican Central Committee, and in turn was run by Wm. H. Patterson and Mr. Hatch, by Patterson alone, by Bailey & Reynolds, by Reynolds alone, by Maj. T. W. Jones, and finally it was purchased by James Criswell in 1868, since which time its circulation has been wonderfully increased, and the paper made a grand success. He changed it from a seven to an eight-column paper. It was edited for a time by Robert Criswell, a spicy writer, who is now in the West; since 1874 the gentlemanly Mr. Gallaher has led in the editorial columns. The Old Flag is a home paper, none of it being printed abroad… 

p. 893

Joseph Merrick Bush, editor and proprietor of The Pike County Democrat, was born Jan. 16, 1822, in Pittsfield, Berkshire county, Mass.; graduated at Williams College (Mass.) in 1838, and removed the same fall to Pittsfield, Pike county, Ill., where he has ever since resided. He was admitted
to the Bar, and in 1848 he married the daughter of John U. Grimshaw, and devoted the most of his time to farming up to 1865, when eh purchased and took the control of the Democrat. He has held the office of State Senator, United States Commissioner for the Southern District of Illinois, Master in Chancery, President of the Board of Education, Pittsfield, President Pike County Agricultural Society, and has taken an active part in all measures looking to advancement of the public interest. He has four sons, three of whom are grown to manhood, and two, William and J. M., jr. are connected with him in conducting the Democrat and its job rooms.

p. 905:


The railroad is comparatively a new enterprise to Pike county. In reference to means of transportation this county is greatly favored by nature. Indeed, there is no county in the State to which nature gave such abundant and convenient channels of transportation as to Pike. Here are two of the finest water courses in America washing its shores, and no portion of the county over half a day’s drive from one of them. Without a railroad many of the northern counties of the State would yet be in their native condition. Yet Pike county could, and did, get along very conveniently without a railroad.

As early as May, 1860, a railroad was projected, principally by Messrs. Starne and Hatch. This road was known as the Pike County Road, and later as the Hannibal and Naples road. Some grading was done, but the county, at a general election, refused aid, and the project was abandoned until after the war, when, through the efforts of Judge Higbee, Scott Wike, James S. Irwin, Hon. Wm. A. Grimshaw, W. Steers, of Pittsfield, Messrs. Brown and Wike, of Barry, and Messrs. McWilliams, Ward, Philbrick and others, of Griggsville, the enterprise was revived and pushed to completion.

Grimshaw Information in Massie’s “Past and Present of Pike County”

Perhaps the best biography was one that was published posthumously by Massie(p. 174-181). The biography is shown below.


William Arthur Grimshaw, of Pittsfield, now numbered among the honored dead of Pike county, was born June 1, 1813, at Navin-on-the-Boyne, County Meath, Ireland. His father was of English parentage but was born near Belfast, Ireland. He emigrated to the United States in 1815 and landed from a neutral vessel, bringing to the city of Charleston, South Carolina, the first news of the treaty of Ghent. Charleston was the birthplace of Harriet Milligan, who was the mother of William A. Grimshaw. Her father was Captain Milligan, a native of Ireland, who was residing in South Carolina at the beginning of the American Revolution. Espousing the cause of the colonies, he entered the American army to aid in the struggle for independence and served in the Pennsylvania line throughout the war. The mother of William A. Grimshaw was educated in the city of Chester, England, and for many years after her marriage she was the principal of a large female seminary in the city of Philadelphia. The father of William A. Grimshaw was a member of the Philadelphia bar, made his home in that city and also spent considerable time at Harrisburg. For thirty years he was recognized as an author of much celebrity. His histories of United States and England and his Etymological Dictionary – a work of much erudition – were in high repute and proved a gratifying source of remuneration to the author. Captain Milligan the maternal grandfather of Mr. Grimshaw, was an original member the Cincinnati Society, of which General George Washington was the president.

William A Grimshaw was educated in the city of Philadelphia and read law in the office of the eminent attorney, David Paul Brown. He belonged to a family of patriots and educators. His grandfather was a Revolutionary officer; his brother, Dr. James Grimshaw, was a surgeon in the Mexican war, being commissioned by James K in 1848, after which he went to Mexico with General Scott; his brother, Dr. Arthur Grimshaw, was a colonel of the ___ war; and his son, William A. Grimshaw, Jr., then a lad of eighteen years, served as a private soldier in the Fifth Illinois Infantry Regiment in the Spanish-American war. His father was author of many textbooks and other literary works and his mother was principal of a seminary for young ladies at Philadelphia, while his sisters, Charlotte and Isabella, with their brother, Dr. Arthur Grimshaw as lecturer and business manager, owned and conducted – until the breaking our of the war of the Rebellion – the Hannah Moore Seminary for Young Ladies at Wilmington, Delaware, Dr, Arthur was county superintendent of New Castle county, Delaware, and served on the board of of which he also acted as president. He was intensely interested in educational matters and did everything in his power for advancement along such lines, although he had a large medical practice. William A. Grimshaw was an active member of the Pittsfield school board and was in office when the beautiful East school building was, erected in 1864-5, continuing on the school board for many years. He has a brother, Robert Grimshaw, a scientific ingenteur and critique, now and for a number of years residing in Germany, and a sister living in Kentucky.

At the early age of nineteen years Mr. Grimshaw was admitted to the bar and was licensed as attorney at law by the district court for the city and county of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1832. He then came to Illinois, then the far west, upon the responsible errand of locating and paying taxes on the large body of land owned by his father, comprising many quarter sections of the bounty lands in the northern counties of the military tract. He lived at Atlas for a time and was adjutant of the Seventeenth Regiment of the Illinois Militia under the old military system, Colonel Benjamin Barney, commanding. On the 25th of November, 1833, he was licensed to practice as all attorney and counselor at law in all the Courts of law and equity in the state of Illinois by Samuel D. Lockwood and William Wilson, justices of the supreme court of the state of Illinois. He was, licensed to practice in the circuit court of the United States for the district of Illinois on he 19th day of December, 1839. He removed to Pittsfield, Pike county, in 1833 and here resided until his death. He was commissioned public administrator of Pike county by Governor Reynolds and was a member of the bar of the county for sixty years in active practice. In a history of Pike county that was published ill 1880, is the following: “William A. Grimshaw, the oldest practicing attorney of the county, ranked as One of the leading lawyers of the state, was admitted to the bar in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. at the age of nineteen years. In 1833 he came to this county, since which time he has been actively identified with every public interest of the county.” He was always a willing and full tax-payer. His property, under one continuous ownership by taxation and his purse by donation for over a half century have contributed generously to every improvement that Pittsfield has ever enjoyed. With characteristic zeal and energy he at once took an active and substantial interest in establishing schools, churches and Sunday schools. He was also instrumental in starting a library association and became one of its stockholders. In 1847 he was chosen a member of the constitutional convention of Illinois and aided in framing the organic law of the state. The Daily Illinois State Journal of November 7, 1883, has the following under the heading, The Real Old Timers; Survivors of 1847; Proposed Reunion of the Members of the Constitutional Convention; Promise of an Interesting Event. A praiseworthy movement has been set on foot for holding a reunion of the surviving members of the constitutional convention of 1847 of the state of Illinois. This movement appears to have had its immediate beginning in the following letter from two old Pike county members:

Pittsfield, Pike County, Ill., Oct. 10, 1883

To the Hons. Ninian W. Edwards and James H. Matheny, Springfield, III,

The undersigned desire to call your attention to the number of years that have elapsed since they had the honor and pleasure to meet and serve with you, as members thereof, in the constitutional convention of 1847. Mote than thirty-six years have passed away since the organization, deliberations and adjournment of that convention and the first Monday of March next will be the thirty-fifth anniversary of the adoption of its work by the people of the state of Illinois. Probably all the members of the convention who assisted in the framing of the constitution of 1848 survived long enough to be gratified and honored by its adoption by the people. Some of them (ourselves among the number) have had the honor to see it last as the organic law until the adoption of the present constitution in 1870. But few of us remain. We can not call to mind more than twenty-five or thirty who are now living We need hardly add that a reunion of the few survivors could not fail to be a meeting of great interest and pleasure to each and all of them. In this view we beg leave to suggest to you a reunion of the survivors of the convention of 1847 at the circuit courtroom in Springfield (where the convention was held) on some day, to be suggested by you, during, the ensuing winter. Please let us hear from you as soon as convenient and give us some suggestions as to the ways and means of notifying the survivors and securing their reunion at the time and place indicated.

Yours truly,

Wm. R. Archer.

Wm. A. Grimshaw,

The editor says, “In some respects the convention here referred to was one of the most important bodies ever assembled in the state and its work practically started the march of steady civil progress which has resulted in the greatness to which the state has attained.”

Under the caption of “Pioneers of Progress,” the Daily Illinois State Register of Springfield, January 3, 1884, gives a history of the convention with short historical sketches of the survivors. It says: “William A. Grimshaw, one of the three surviving delegates from Pike county, was born in Ireland in 1813. His father, William Grimshaw, was a distinguished historian, and his mother, Harriet Milligan Grimshaw, a daughter of James Milligan, a captain of the Pennsylvania line in the Revolutionary war. Mr. Grimshaw was educated in Philadelphia and admitted to the bar at the early age of nineteen years. He came to Illinois in May 1833, where he has since resided. In 1840 he made in unsuccessful candidacy for the legislature on the whig ticket, but the vigorous campaign which he made in August resulted in giving the county to Harrison in November. When in convention, although his party was in the minority, he took a prominent part in its deliberations and was the author of the anti-deuling clause incorporated iii the constitution. In 1848 he carried his own county for the le, legislature, but the vote of Cahoun county defeated him. He was in the Decatur convention in 1860, also in the state convention of 1864 and was a delegate from the ninth Illinois district to the Baltimore national convention of 1864, which nominated Lincoln. the second time for president. He has been in the active practice of his profession (the law) for over fifty years and enjoys the confidence and respect of a large and lucrative clientage. he is at the present time attorney for the Wabash Railroad and the Sny levee commissioners. He has held numerous trusteeships in various public institutions. He has been for several years a member of the state board of charities, In 1880 he was on the Republican electoral ticket and was the messenger to take the vote to Washington.

“In accordance with the recommendation of the senate and house of representatives of the United States of America for the proper observance and celebration of the first centennial of our national independence on July 4, 1876, at a public meeting at the courthouse in Pittsfield the following committee of arrangements and programme was appointed by the action of the meeting: C. L. Higbee, chairman; William A. Grimshaw, James G. Erwin, William R. Archer, Strother Griggsby, J. M. Bush. Richard M. Atkinson.”

The following paragraph is copied from the printed “Address of the Centennial Committee of Invitation”: “In pursuance of the power of the power of the committee they have chosen as the historian of the county for the 4th of July, 1876 the Hon. William A. Grimshaw, himself one of the earlest settlers in the county and who, by reason thereof and his eminent ability, is most fully qualified for the position.” Mr. Grimshaw wrote and delivered a centenial (sic) address at the Fourth of July celebration of 1876 a brief history of Pike county. In closing he said, “It is my anticipation, in the march of events, that the next centennial history of Pike will be offered by a lady.” By his consent extracts from his centennial history are incorporated in “The History of Pike County” published in 1880. A copy of his centennial history is in the library of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania at Philadelphia.

This is from the pen of Hon. J. M. Bush. the able editor and proprietor of the Pike County Democrat and the publisher of Mr. Grimshaw’s centennial history:


“In presenting the foregoing able and exhaustive centennial! address it. is to the author and ourself to say that circumstances beyond our control have prevented its publication until the present time, but as it is a work of that character which will become the more valuable as time shall elapse, little harm can arise from the delay. And in this connection we deem it but just to the distinguished author to append a notice of one who has been so prominently identified with the history of Illinois and especially of Pike county since, its earliest days – the Hon. William A. Grimshaw. He is a son of William Grimshaw, who was an early and distinguished historian of the United States and whose mother was Harriet Milligan Grimshaw, a native of Charleston, South Carolina, and a daughter of James Milligan, a captain in the Pennsylvania line in the American Revolution, and an original member of the Society of Cincinnati, of which society General George Washington was the president. The subject of this sketch was admitted to the bar at nineteen years of age in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In May, 1833, he arrived in Pike county, Illinois, and in November of the same year received a license from the supreme court of the state to practice law. In the same year he was appointed adjutant of the Seventeenth Illinois Militia, then as other regiments, mustering regularly, and as adjutant, equipped and uniformed, was ready for service with his regiment and often held with his Colonel, Benjamin Barney, regimental and battalion trainings in Pike. Governor John Reynolds, unsolicited, commissioned Mr. Grimshaw as public administrator of Pike county. In 1840 he ran as a whig candidate for the legislature ahead of his ticket at the August election. The vigorous campaign that he made secured to Harrison for president at the November election a county majority of one hundred and twelve votes. At his next candidacy he was elected as a delegate to the constitutional convention of 1847 and sat in that body, in whose deliberations and actions he took a prominent part. He was the author of the anti-dueling clause incorporated into the constitution then adopted. The next year, 1848, his own county gave him a majority as a candidate for the legislature, but he was defeated by the vote of Calhoun county, which then voted with Pike county. On several subsequent occasions, as a candidate for the senate and constitutional convention, he has run largely ahead of his ticket, but opposition having substantial majorities, he was defeated. In politics a whig and then a republican, he has at the solicitation of others been put forward as a representative of the views of his party, but has always manifested a personal independence. rarely. if ever, to be found in the party politician. As a Union man he was very pronounced in his views and devoted his time and energies freely in support of the federal government. In 1860, as a delegate to the Decatur convention, he was for Lincoln for president and in 1864 took part in the Illinois state convention and was also sent as a delegate of the old ninth congressional district to the Baltimore republican convention which re-nominated Lincoln. As a personal friend of Douglas, in war speeches he lauded him for his hold and emphatic support of the Union cause. At the bar of Pike and other counties and also in the supreme court of Illinois and in the United States court at Springfield and Chicago he has tried many causes and is yet in very active practice: and as attorney for the Sny levee commissioners has from the first steps, as to legal proceedings in the state courts upheld the acts of the commissioners, but the supreme court of Illinois has decided adversely on the constitutionality of the state laws as to levees, etc, He is attorney for the Toledo, Wabash & Western and Chicago & Alton Railroad Companies and Mississippi River Bridge Company at Louisiana, Missouri. During fourteen years the late Jackson Grimshaw was in partnership with his brother, William A., that partnership ceasing in 1857. He is the owner of fine farms and takes pride in agriculture and has raised fine horses, cattle and sheep. He is a life member of the Pike County Agricultural Society and has several times been president thereof and has taken many premiums on fine stock. In the promotion of railroads and other interests in Pike he has always actively participated. As a trustee of the State Institution for the Blind at Jacksonville he served twelve years and
in the last year of his service the institution was rebuilt, the first edifice having been destroyed lay fire. This service was without emolument. He takes pride in having served many years as a trustee of Pittsfield and also as a school director of Pittsfield when the large and handsome East school building was erected it 1863-4, and for many years thereafter.

“J. M. Bush, Publisher,

“February 17, 1877.”

On Monday at four o’clock in the afternoon the bar of Pike county assembled to pay tribute to the memory of the gentleman whose name heads this article and there was a full attendance. The chairman of the committee, appointed at a former meeting to prepare proper resolutions, submitted the following:

“The committee, to whom at a farmer term of this court was assigned the duty of preparing and presenting to it suitable resolutions touching the death of Hon. William A. Grimshaw, one of the earliest and most honored members of the Pike county bar respectfully report the following preamble and

“Whereas, on the morning of January 7, A.D. 1895, Hon. William A, Grimshaw, who became a member of this bar in 1833 and for more than half a century was prominent in the practice of his profession not only at it, but in the courts of what is known as the military tract as well as it the supreme court of the state and the federal courts passed at a ripe old age and and full of honors to that bourne from whence no traveler returns and is no longer one of our number, therefore be it

“Resolved. That by his death the Pike county bar has lost one who in his mature manhood through a long and useful life was an ornament to his profession and in its practice commanded the esteem and confidence of the entire community one who by his energy and zeal in behalf of his clients, his study honesty, integrity and fidelity to all trusts assumed by or imposed upon him added lustre to a profession which from the earliest ages has been foremost in the conduct of all matters tending to the well-being of a common humanity one who imbued with a high sense of honor and regard for the majesty of the law, waged his legal battles in an open field and so conducted them as to be a foreman worthy of the steel of the highest in the profession. In fine, one the record of whose life as a lawyer stands out fair and untarnished and presents in him a bright exemplar for the emulation of the younger members of a profession he so well adorned.

“Resolved, That not alone in his chosen walk of life, the law, was he distinguished and prominent, but in all the relations of life he was ever foremost in good works. As a member of the constitutional convention of 1847 he took high rank among the ablest in that distinguished body and rendered invaluable service in the framing of an instrument which in the wisdom of its provisions was far ahead of the general spirit of the age and became a model for years for many of the new states admitted into the Union. He was the author of the anti-dueling provision which met with much opposition in a day when the code duello was largely in vogue for the settlement of personal difficulties and was urgent in the support of the levy of the two mill tax, by which the credit of he state was restored and its debt of twelve or fourteen million dollars eventually paid. When the dark and troublous times that preceded the breaking out of the internecine strife for the perpetuity of the Union first appeared Its patriotic spirit was deeply stirred and With that zeal and ardor which were among his marked characteristics he engaged earnestly and vigorously in the upholding of the flag of his country and rendered services in private life that would have won him distinction if performed upon the tented field, and ever during the pendency of that terrible struggle was the trusted friend and confidant of the federal authorities. As a member of the State Board of Charities for many years his work as such became a labor of love and he was pre-eminently conspicuous in making the various chartable institutions of the state carry out most fully and economically the noble purposes for which they were established. Into this work he entered with all his soul and that energy of purpose so characteristic of him in all that he undertook and after his retirement as a member he manifested by word and deed up to the very last the warmest interest in a matter in which all the better feelings of his nature had become involved. In local matters he was in full sympathy with whatever tended to the upbuilding and prosperity of this county and community, as is evidenced by his having been one of the incorporators of the Louisiana & Pike County Railroad, a member of the school board that erected our costly East school building in 1863-4, president and director of the Pike County Agricultural Society, one of the originators of the Old Settlers’ Society, and in the promotion of these and other projects of like character he was ever active, efficient and zealous. Your committee respectfully ask that this preamble and resolutions be spread upon the records of this court and a copy presented to the family of the deceased and furnished to the county papers for publication.

“J.M. Bush, Chairman,

“A. C. Matthews,

“J. D. Hess


Mr. Grimshaw was a member of the Episcopal church, a sincere, conscientious, consistent and active Christian. His prayer was always: “Heavenly Father give me wisdom and strength faithfully to perform my whole duty in every relation of life.” His motto was “Candide et Constanter” and it exemplified it in his life. He was very literary in his tastes, a great reader, took an interest in a wide range of subjects and was well informed upon them. He collected a large and valuable library of miscellaneous books and was very liberal minded and generous, no worthy person or cause ever appealing to him for aid in vain. Although firm and unyielding where a principle was involved, giving forth no uncertain sound, in matters of mere will or pleasure he conceded much, But it was in his home that his superior qualities of heart and mind shone brightest. He was a most affectionate and tender husband and father and a true friend.

Additional Biography of William Grimshaw

The following biography of Jackson was published in Munsell’s “Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois”2 (p. 212):

GRIMSHAW, William A., early lawyer, was born in Philadelphia and admitted to the bar in his native city at age 19; in 1833 came to Pike County, Ill, where he continued to practice until his death. He served in the State Constitutional Convention in 1847, and had the credit of preparing the article in the second Constitution prohibiting dueling. In 1864 he was a delegate to the Republican National Convention which nominated Mr. Lincoln for President a second time; also served as Presidential Elector in 1880. He was, for a time, one of the Trustees of the Institution for the Deaf and Dumb at Jacksonville, and, from 1877 to 1882, a member of the State Board of Public Charities, being for a time President of the Board. Died, at Pittsfield, Jan. 7, 1895.

William Grimshaw’s Home in Pittsfield

Two websites provide valuable information and photos on the Grimshaw home on 750 West Perry St. in Pittsfield (Figure 2).

Figure 2. Information on the William Grimshaw homesite on two historical websites.

The Grimshaw House at 750 W. Perry St. was the site of Wm. Grimshaw’s law office. He and Lincoln worked on several cases together and later had Lincoln represent him in federal court.

Source: http://www.pittsfieldil.org/abe.htm;

William Grimshaw lived at 750 West Perry. This stately home was built in 1847, and is still in the Grimshaw family. Recently restored, it is an early Illinois showpiece of history and period furniture. Grimshaw and Lincoln had several court cases together. William Grimshaw was one of the founders of the Illinois Republican Party and a delegate to the 1847 Constitutional Convention. Because of the close relationship between the two, there is little doubt that Lincoln was a frequent guest in the Grimshaw home. The Lincoln Legal Papers Project has discovered a federal court case in which William Grimshaw hired Lincoln to represent him….

Source: http://www.lib.niu.edu/ipo/ihfa0018.html 

Bill and Sylvia Grote provided the following excellent photos of William’s home in Pittsfield, along with the marker that shows its historical significance.

William’s 1876 Centennial Address for Pike County, Illinois

For the U.S. Centennial in 1876, William was commissioned as the Pike County historian and prepared a history of the county2. The 35-page history was privately published; the cover is shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3. Cover of Privately Published Pike County History Publication by William Arthur Grimshaw

The full text of William’s address is provided in a companion webpage. An outline of the address is shown below.





























































Where Are Pittsfield, Illinois and William Grimshaw’s Former Residence?

The location of Pittsfield in western Illinois, about 60 miles northwest of St Louis, Missouri, is shown in Figure 4. Also shown in the figure is the location of the Grimshaw home at 750 West Perry St in northwest Pittsfield. Note also the location of Quincy, IL about 40 miles northwest of Pittsfield, where William’s brother, Jackson Grimshaw, moved to from Pittsfield.

Figure 4. Location of Pittsfield in western Illinois (upper map) and of the Grimshaw home on Perry Street in Pittsfield (lower). Locations noted by red star.

William’s Brother, Jackson Grimshaw, Another Prominent Illinois Attorney

Jackson Grimshaw, described on a companion webpage, was born in Philadelphia in 1822, the son of William Grimshaw, noted historical author, and Harriet (Milligan) Grimshaw. After working for five years as an engineer for a railroad, he studied law and relocated to Pittsfield, Illinois, where he was a partner with his older brother, William A. Grimshaw, in a law firm for 14 years. He then moved to Quincy, Illinois, where he gained prominence as a capable lawyer and became politically active. He was among the influential group of politicians that initially persuaded Abraham Lincoln to run for the presidency. Although he won the post of Internal Revenue collector, he was disappointed in not receiving a judgeship in Kansas from Lincoln. Jackson died in 1875 at the rather young age of 53 and is buried there with his two wives and several children.

William’s Origins and Descendant Chart

William was the son of William Grimshaw, noted historical author, and grandson of Nicholas Grimshaw, who was prominent in developing the textile industry in Ireland. Both are described on companion webpages. William’s descendant chart is shown below. He had three families as shown in the descendant chart.

Nicholas Grimshaw (18 Apr 1714 – 19 Mar 1777) & Susannah Grace Briercliffe (1715 – 27 Oct 1777)

|—–Nicholas Grimshaw (10 Jul 1747 – 28 Feb 1805) & Mary Wrigley (Apr 1749 – 31 Oct 1801)

|—–|—–John Grimshaw (15 Feb 1770 – 19 Sep 1771)

|—–|—–James Grimshaw (9 Jul 1772 – 23 Mar 1866) & Alicia Robinson (1773 – 1 Mar 1811)

|—–|—–Isabella Grimshaw (13 Nov 1772 – 30 Nov 1774)

|—–|—–Thomas Grimshaw (3 Jun 1774 – 11 Nov 1855) & Elizabeth (Betsey) Blizard (1776 – 18 Dec 1823)

|—–|—–Susanna Grimshaw (25 Jan 1776 – 13 Apr 1801) & Robert Getty (9 Jun 1761 – 16 Aug 1829)

|—–|—–Edmund Grimshaw (12 Jul 1777 – 20 Mar 1854) & Elizabeth (Betsey) Taylor ( – 18 Jun 1847)

|—–|—–Nicholas Grimshaw (28 Feb 1778 – 10 Oct 1803)

|—–|—–Mary Anne Grimshaw* (24 Feb 1781 – 13 Sep 1854) & Edward Bates

|—–|—–Mary Anne Grimshaw* (24 Feb 1781 – 13 Sep 1854) & William Murphy

|—–|—–William Grimshaw* (22 Nov 1782 – 8 Jan 1852) & Harriet Elizabeth Milligan (1788 – 16 Feb 1826)

|—–|—–|—–Charlotte Grimshaw (22 Apr 1807 – 4 Mar 1882)

|—–|—–|—–Harriett Grimshaw (18 Apr 1808 – Circa 1808)

|—–|—–|—–Isabella Grimshaw (22 Aug 1810 – May 1895)

|—–|—–|—–William Arthur Grimshaw* (1 Jun 1813 – 7 Jan 1895) & Maria Ann Sellon (25 Jun 1817 – 17 Jul 1854)

|—–|—–|—–|—–William Grimshaw (18 Mar 1842 – 18 Oct 1842)***

|—–|—–|—–|—–Lucy Grimshaw (5 Oct 1844 – 8 Sep 1866)

|—–|—–|—–|—–Harriett Elizabeth Grimshaw (24 Sep 1846 – 9 Aug 1850)

|—–|—–|—–|—–Charlotte Grimshaw (7 May 1848 – 31 Mar 1908) & Albert Searjeant Archer ((? – 27 Aug 1916)

|—–|—–|—–|—–|—–Lucy Harriett Archer (6 Oct 1873 – 17 Apr 1951)

|—–|—–|—–|—–Maria Ann Grimshaw (25 Dec 1849 – 1933) & Roland Maddison Worthington (1851 – 18 Nov 1912)

|—–|—–|—–|—–|—–William Holland Worthington (4 Dec 1875 – 1953) & Clara Vanatta (19 Sep 1882 – ?)

|—–|—–|—–|—–Isabella Grimshaw (9 Nov 1851 – 1929)

|—–|—–|—–|—–James Grimshaw (15 Sep 1853 – 18 Aug 1854)

|—–|—–|—–|—–Unnamed Daughter Grimshaw (Before 17 Jul 1854 – Circa 1854)

|—–|—–|—–William Arthur Grimshaw* (1 Jun 1813 – 7 Jan 1895) & Margaret Grimshaw (1824 – 3 Mar 1862)

|—–|—–|—–|—–Mary Alicia Grimshaw (1 Jun 1857 – 21 Nov 1861)

|—–|—–|—–|—–Henrietta Grimshaw (26 Jun 1859 – 1945) & Charles Teil Etheridge (4 Jan 1849 – 1 Jan 1910)

|—–|—–|—–|—–|—–Edith Grimshaw Etheridge (26 Dec 1884 – 1944)

|—–|—–|—–|—–Susan Cameron Grimshaw (18 May 1861 – 1940) & G. Walter Boothby (1859 – 1935)

|—–|—–|—–|—–|—–Margaret Eastwood Boothby (19 May 1898 – Aug 1986) & Benjamin Sperry (15 Apr 1894 – Jun 1985)

|—–|—–|—–William Arthur Grimshaw* (as above) & Almarina Emaulette Webb Campbell (21 Nov 1842 – 27 Aug 1924)

|—–|—–|—–|—–Jane Glover Grimshaw (17 Oct 1877 – 1940) & John Ross Frampton (10 Jul 1879 – 1955)

|—–|—–|—–|—–William Arthur Grimshaw (8 Jul 1879 – 11 Apr 1934 & Madeline Susanna Berger (25 Oct 1883 – ?)

|—–|—–|—–|—–Almarina Emaulette Grimshaw (21 Dec 1881 – 9 Sep 1980) & Paul Heinz Franz Grote (19 Dec 1874 – 10 Aug 1829)

|—–|—–|—–Harriett Grimshaw (22 May 1814 – May 1884) & Benjamin Sellon (28 Jul 1818 – 30 Jul 1881)

|—–|—–|—–|—–John Sellon (ca 1849 – ?)

|—–|—–|—–|—–Harriett Sellon (ca 1841 – Jan 1897)

|—–|—–|—–|—–William Sellon (Ca 1843 – 1928)

|—–|—–|—–|—–Sydney Sellon (1855 -1876)

|—–|—–|—–|—–Charlotte Sellon (ca 1848 – 1905)

|—–|—–|—–James Grimshaw (24 Jul 1816 – Before 1858) & Elizabeth

|—–|—–|—–Eliza Ann Grimshaw (18 Jul 1818 – )

|—–|—–|—–Hamilton Grimshaw (26 Jul 1819 – 24 Jul 1820)

|—–|—–|—–Jackson Grimshaw* (22 Nov 1820 – 13 Dec 1875) & Maria Merrick Bush (2 Jan 1826 – 29 Apr 1854)

|—–|—–|—–|—–Ellen Eliza (Nelly) Grimshaw (29 Jul 1852 – 13 Sep 1862)

|—–|—–|—–|—–Arthur Hamilton Grimshaw (19 Feb 1854 – 11 Oct 1854)

|—–|—–|—–Jackson Grimshaw* (22 Nov 1820 – 1875) & Cornelia Bowne Curran (12 May 1833 – Apr 1903)

|—–|—–|—–|—–Elizabeth Curran Grimshaw (12 Sep 1860 – 1924) )

|—–|—–|—–|—–William Jackson Grimshaw (27 Aug 1862 – 20 Jul 1863)

|—–|—–|—–Sydney Grimshaw (20 Jul 1822 – Feb 1823)

|—–|—–|—–Hamilton Grimshaw (20 Jul 1822 – Feb 1823)

|—–|—–|—–Arthur Harper Grimshaw (16 Jan 1824 – 17 May 1891) & Elizabeth Bailey ( – Circa 1884)

|—–|—–William Grimshaw* (22 Nov 1782 – 8 Jan 1852) & Maria Caroline De La Croix (22 Aug 1808 – 13 Mar 1881)

|—–|—–|—–Robert Grimshaw (25 Jan 1850 – After 1940) & Margaret Morton Dillon (1 Aug 1847 – 10 Feb 1877)

|—–|—–|—–|—–Charlotte Grimshaw (3 Mar 1873 – ) & Malcolm MacLear (5 Feb 1872 – May 1912)

|—–|—–|—–|—–Mary Morton Grimshaw (25 Sep 1874 – ) & Cornelius B. Hite

|—–|—–|—–|—–Edith Dillon Grimshaw (1 Feb 1877 – ) & Adolf Stelling (12 Mar 1864 – )

|—–|—–|—–Robert Grimshaw (1850 – After 1940) & Marta Sharstein

|—–|—–|—–Mary Wrigley Grimshaw (9 Apr 1852 – ) & Benjamin Gaskell Simmons (6 Dec 1844 – 26 Jan 1909)

|—–|—–Joseph Grimshaw (7 Jul 1784 – 8 Jan 1812)

|—–|—–John Wrigley Grimshaw (8 Feb 1786 – 17 Aug 1786)

|—–|—–Henry Fielding Grimshaw (2 Mar 1787 – )

|—–|—–Robert Grimshaw (7 Feb 1788 – 9 Dec 1867) & Arabella Duffin (1789 – 29 Oct 1827)

|—–|—–Conway Blizzard Grimshaw (6 Feb 1789 – 18 Dec 1869) & Mary Osborne (1797 – 2 Jun 1865)

|—–|—–Howard Grimshaw (19 Mar 1790 – 8 Nov 1821)

|—–|—–Jackson Grimshaw (14 Apr 1791 – 21 Nov 1791)

|—–|—–Richard Grimshaw (2 Nov 1793 – 16 Nov 1793)

|—–|—–Christopher Briercliffe Grimshaw (27 Jul 1792 – Jan 1866) & Alice Passon (Circa 1798 – 16 Oct 1858)

|—–|—–Sarah Grimshaw (27 Sep 1795 – 13 Oct 1795)

|—–Thomas Grimshaw

|—–John Grimshaw

It appears from this descendant chart that William and his sister, Harriett, may have married siblings, Maria Ann and Benjamin Sellon.

Grimshaw Grave Plot in Pittsfield

Photos of grave plot of William Grimshaw and family and the grave of William’s cousin(?), John Usher Grimshaw, have been provided by Bill and Sylvia Grote via Hilary Tulloch. William’s grave plot (upper photo) is located in the St. Stephens Episcopal Cemetery in Pittsfield. It is likely that John’s grave is in the same cemetery. Thanks go to Bill, Sylvia and Hilary for providing these photos.


1Chapman, Charles C., & Co., 1880, History of Pike County Illinois; Together with sketches of its cities, villages and townships, educational, religious, civil, military, and political history; Portraits of
prominent persons and biographies of representative citizens: Chicago, IL, Charles C. Chapman & Co., 966 p.

2Massie, M.D., 1906, Past and Present of Pike County, Illinois, together with biographical sketches of many of its prominent and leading citizens and illustrious dead: Chicago, IL, S.J. Clarke Publishing Co., 751 p.

3Grimshaw, William A., 1876, History of Pike County – A Centennial Address Delivered by Hon. William A. Grimshaw at Pittsfield, Pike County, Illinois, July 4, 1876: Pittsfield, Illinois, Privately Published, 35 p.

Webpage History

Webpage posted January 2001. Updated September 2004. Updated November 2004 with addition of photos of William’s home and graves in Pittsfield from Bill and Sylvia Grote via Hilary Tulloch.