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Judge William Gaffney (1846-??)
Born in Ireland, farmer before becoming a lawyer and judge in Bay City, Mich.

Biography, 1915 - Added April, 2011.

History of Bay County, Michigan - Moore, 1915.


As judge of the police court of Bay City, an office which he has held since 1910, William Gaffney performs an important public service in his community. For many years he was a farmer and stock raiser, and came from the farm to Bay City and took up the study of law, and was in successful practice until his election to the bench of the city court. He has faithfully performed his duties according to the law and also according to the high moral and humane requirements of modern justice. He does not represent the stern justice that inflicts penalties without discretion or discrimination, but rather believes and acts so that, with due respect to the welfare of society, the individual wrong-doer may be set on the road of reformation. He has shown great sympathy for the unfortunate and also for the drinking class, many of which come before him daily, and his courtroom has been more of a moral tribunal than a chamber of punishment, and he is frequently heard lecturing and admonishing those who come before him, advising them of the evil effects of the drink habit and of the great loss of money, time and self-respect. He has come to be regard as a minister of reform and truth as well as of the law.

William Gaffney was born May 29, 1846, in Ireland, and came to Bay county, Michigan, in 1856 with his parents, William and Mary (White) Gaffney. He was next to the youngest in a family of eight children, four sons and four daughters. His father was a farmer, and died in Bay county about 1867, while the mother passed away in 1887.

The early education of Judge Gaffney was obtained in the public schools, and he completed the high school at Flint. Returning to the country he engaged in farming, improved a tract of land from the brush and virgin soil into a highly productive farm, and for a number of years had quite a reputation in that vicinity as a grower and breeder of short-horn pedigreed cattle. While a prosperous farmer he has again and again tried to serve his community in public capacity. For twelve years he was supervisor of Monitor township, and was superintendent of schools and school inspector for many years there. He was elected county clerk in the fall of 1882 and re-elected for four consecutive terms. While in that capacity he studied law and was admitted to the bar. He followed the practice of law actively for several years. In 1910 he was elected to fill a vacancy as police judge and in the spring of 1911 was elected for the regular term in that office. His election was a high tribute to his ability and personal popularity, since he went into office as a Democrat in a community which is normally Republican by a majority of about fifteen hundred votes. Judge Gaffney has been a Democrat since casting his first ballot, and has been one of the leaders of the party in Bay county.

Judge Gaffney affiliates with the Knights of Columbus, the Royal League, the Maccabees, the Catholic Mutual Benefit Association and is a member of the Catholic church. He was married in September, 1879, at Bay City, to Miss Catherine Conroy, a daughter of John Conroy, who is remembered as a former hotel man of Bay City. The judge and wife have five sons and two daughters: Hubert J., who is practicing lawyer and a member of the firm of Coumans & Gaffney of Bay City; William D., who died in January, 1912; Theobald, engaged in contracting in Bay City; Edwin J., a student in the St. Louis University of St. Louis; Thomas Francis, a stenographer in the Bay City office of the Detroit & Mackinaw Railroad; Miss Florence, at home; and Loretto, in school.

Addition Notes.

    1880- Census: Monitor Twp., Bay, Mich.

  • Gaffney, William b. 1846 Ireland
  • Katherine, spouse b. 1857 Canada
  • Mary, mother b. 1796 Ireland

    1900 Census: Monitor Twp., Bay, Mich.

  • Gaffney, William b. May1845, Ireland
  • Catherine, spouse b. Jul. 1857, Canada
  • Herbert, son b. Jan. 1882, Mich.
  • William D., son b. Jan. 1884, Mich.
  • Theobald M., b. son Jun. 1886, Mich.
  • Edwin J. , son - b. Jun 1888, Mich.
  • Thomas F., son b. Aug 1890, Mich.
  • Florence, dau. - b. Oct 1894, Mich.
  • Catharine L., dau. - b. Apr. 1898, Mich.

Related Pages/Notes

Judge William Gaffney

Related Pages:
None at this time.
People Referenced
Conroy, Catherine (wife)
Conroy, John (f-inlaw)
Gaffney, Catharine (dau)
Gaffney, Edwin J. (son)
GAffney, Florence (dau)
Gaffney, Hubert J. (son)
Gaffney, Loretto (dau)
Gaffney, Theobald (son)
Gaffney, Thomas F. (son)
Gaffney, William (subject)
Gaffney, William Sr. (father)
GAffney, William D. (son)
White, Mary (mother)
Subjects Referenced
Bay City, MI
Bay County, MI
Catholic church
Detroit & Mackinaw RR
Monitor Twp., Bay, MI
St. Louis, MO
St. Louis University
WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.