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Among those who shared the voyage of Penn and concluded to cast his fortunes in the new commonwealth ceded to his friend, was Joshua Clayton, who at his death left sons, John and Joshua. John also left two sons to survive him, James and John. James's posterity was five sons, the eldest of whom was Dr. Joshua Clayton, President of the State of Delaware, at the close of her first period of sovereignty under the constitution of August, 1776, and her first Governor under that of 1789; he was the father of Thomas Clayton, who represented this State with great credit, at different periods, in both Houses of Congress, and shone with exceeding lustre as an able and upright Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas from 1828, when he took his seat there, until January, 1837, when he resigned his 'office, under the new Constitution, as Chief Justice of the State, to accept a Senatorship in the Congress of the United States. The youngest of these five children of James Clayton was originally named George, but his brother James dying shortly after his father, and when George was a mere infant, the name thus lost was restored by being conferred upon George, who became James. This James was the father of the subject of this memoir. His mother was Sarah Middleton, of Virginia ancestry, whose maiden name was bestowed upon this her son, and he was christened John Middleton Clayton. John Clayton, a brother of Joshua, the father of Thomas, and James the father of John M., was a distinguished character, having been an active political personage in the colonial and later times;
Judge in Admiralty under the Constitution of 1776; Sheriff of Kent at the period of change to the new form, and Associate Judge of the Court of Common Pleas until his death.
James Clayton (formerly George), was born on the 24th day of March, 1761, married to Miss Middleton on the 18th of August, 1791, and died on the 24th day of November, 1820, leaving his wife (who died on the 23d of June, 1829, at the age of fiftyfive years, three months, and fifteen days), and six children, to survive him; Lydia, who married John Kellum, of Accomac county, Virginia; John Harriet, who became the wife of Walter Douglass, who died in 1824, and afterwards of Henry W. Peterson, since deceased; Elizabeth, who died unmarried; Mary Anne, who was the wife of George T. Fisher, who survived her and died in 1831; and James H. M. Clayton, who died unmarried in 1837. These sisters and this brother of John M. Clayton all died in his lifetime, only one of them, Harriet, having left
any issue now alive, and but one other of them, Mary Anne, ever having had any issue.
John M. Clayton was born at Dagsborough, in the county of Sussex, in a house standing, until within a few years, upon an ample lot of ground lately. owned by Mr. John Hazzard, who was the proprietor of a hotel, which he kept himself, at the south end of it. The parents of young Clayton must have been uncommon persons. They were both well-formed, and the husband large like the rest of the old Clayton
mind, and also for endear men to each
mother very often; his father a few times. truly a stalwart man, with an imposing appearance, and she of the full feminine size, and with features of striking and distinguished fashion. Added to all the essential qualities for a wife and mother of a very talented family, she possessed great refinement of manner in society, and also a rare fluency of speech, which she transmitted to all her children there not having been one of them who was not remarkable for fine powers of conversation. James Clayton shone in society for his breadth of information and depth and strength of those qualities of the heart that other generosity, benevolence, sympathy constantly expressed. And then he was so manly, so above any of the petty feelings or purposes that mar the characters of men. This is the testimony of his acquaintances, as I have heard it from the mouths of some of them. He was a great reader, as his son has told me his favorite authors being the English classics, so called to distinguish them from their less successful and accomplished rivals in the literary field; and he has frequently spoken to me about his father's passionate fondness for Shakespeare's plays, and of his remarkable memory of their text. In fact, he has said to me more than once, that his father was the best Shakespearian he had ever known. He was very fond, was this excellent man, of the society of his cherished friends; and upon occasions
of their re-union, such as village life affords, would himself much effort to make all happy around
As soon as young John was qualified by age to leave home for school, he was sent to Berlin, in Worcester county, Maryland, to attend upon an academy there; but the quarters where he was put to board proving not suited to his liking on account of a deficiency in the quantity of food given the boarders, he and another boy, James Davis (a son of Isaac Davis, afterwards Judge Davis of the old Supreme Court), ran away, and walked all the way to Milford, where their respective parents then resided —— James Clayton having removed to Kent whilst his son was at Berlin. He was next sent to Lewes, where he remained for some time, boarding with a kind, motherly, old lady, who treated him like a son. From thence he was brought to Milford for instruction
the schools there having greatly improved, and here he remained until the 24th of July, 1811, when at the time precisely of his arrival of the age of fifteen years, he entered Yale College, and thence graduated on the 12th day of September, 1815, with the highest honors of his class. I have heard him often speak of his college days whilst I studied in his office; and he enjoyed, with a zest impossible to describe, the reminiscences his conversations with me evoked. He was full of fun of all the kinds enjoyed by college boys; and being, at a very early age, a good performer on the violin, was sought after by the students, and was
friends with all of them whose society he desired to cultivate. But of all his companions none stood so high in his affections as a little fellow, a year behind him in age and studentship, George McClellan of Philadelphia, afterwards the famous surgeon, and the father of the present Governor of New Jersey. I have seen the two together whilst Clayton lived at New Castle; and it was entertaining, to a degree I cannot give you any adequate idea of, to be present when these two brilliant men, greatly distinguished in their respective careers, forgot all their rank and consequence in what a great poet calls a revivescence of their college life those school days which Thackeray, speaking from his affectionate and tender heart, calls "the happy, the bright, the unforgotten." If you could have heard them without seeing them, or knowing who they were, you would have thought two schoolfellows had met a year after their graduation at college And yet they were both men of matured years and honors, upon whom the public had given judgment as men of the highest abilities in their several walks in life.
Upon his graduation young Clayton returned home for relaxation, having been hard at work in college for four years, and never having given himself enough vacation to return to his family. Coming back to Delaware at the close of 1815, and intending, as his father did, that he should be a lawyer, he was, some time not long afterwards, entered in the office of his cousin Thomas Clayton, and studied under him until