Judge Edward Shippen, IV
b.16 Feb 1729 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
d.15 Apr 1806
Facts and Events
Shippen was born in Philadelphia, the son of merchant Edward Shippen, III. He learned law from Tench Francis, Pennsylvania's attorney general. He married his mentor's daughter Margaret Francis in 1753, with whom he had nine children. In 1748 he went to London to complete his law studies at the Middle Temple, and, after returning to Philadelphia, was admitted to the bar. He was appointed judge of the admiralty court in 1755. Three years later he was elected to the city's common council. In 1762 he was appointed prothonotary of the supreme court, a post retained till the Revolution. He became a member of the Pennsylvania Provincial Council in 1770.
Shippen attempted to stay neutral in the American Revolution, hoping that the colonies and the mother country would be reconciled. He did not support the extension of royal authority and was therefore not a Loyalist, but he also opposed the radically democratic Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776, which sought to reduce the hold on government by powerful families like the Shippens.
In 1791, he was appointed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, serving with Jasper Yeates and Edward Burd, both kinsmen and former students. Shippen became chief justice in 1799, but in 1804 was impeached on flimsy, political grounds. The next year the Pennsylvania Senate acquitted him and his associates. Shippen retired to private life and died soon thereafter, on April 15, 1806 in Philadelphia at age 77.