Edward C. Breitenkamp
John Birdsall
Drawing, Portrait of John Birdsall. Courtesy of Texas Law. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

BIRDSALL, JOHN (1802–1839). John Birdsall, judge and attorney general in the Republic of Texas, son of Maurice and Ann (Pixley) Birdsall, was born in Greene, Chenango County, New York, in 1802. He received his legal training in New York and was appointed circuit court judge of the Eighth District by New York governor DeWitt Clinton. Birdsall served in the New York Senate in 1832 and 1833. In 1837 he moved to Texas and became the law partner of Thomas J. Gazley in Houston. President Sam Houston appointed Birdsall attorney general of the Republic of Texas on August 15, 1837, and the Senate of the Second Congress unanimously confirmed him. Houston then appointed Birdsall chief justice pro tempore as successor to James Collinsworth. He served briefly, but the Senate refused to confirm him in this post. On January 8, 1839, he became the law partner of Sam Houston. The partnership lasted until Birdsall's death. Birdsall was a charter member of the Philosophical Society of Texas. He and his first wife, Ann (Whiteside), had two sons. In 1836 Birdsall married Sarah Peacock. He died of yellow fever on July 22, 1839, and was buried in Glendale Cemetery, Harrisburg (now Houston).


George A. Birdsall, The Birdsall Family (Annandale, Virginia, 1958; rev. ed. 1964). Amelia W. Williams and Eugene C. Barker, eds., The Writings of Sam Houston, 1813–1863 (8 vols., Austin: University of Texas Press, 1938–43; rpt., Austin and New York: Pemberton Press, 1970). E. W. Winkler, ed., Secret Journals of the Senate, Republic of Texas (Austin, 1911). Andrew White Young, History of Chautauqua County (New York, 1875).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to:

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Edward C. Breitenkamp, "BIRDSALL, JOHN," accessed January 17, 2020,

Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Modified on September 14, 2016. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...