John H. Doyle


John Hardy Doyle was a prominent and respected lawyer, historian, and publisher, whom Toledo proudly boasted as one of its own. He was celebrated by the state of Ohio for his eminence. He was the youngest man to ever occupy the Supreme Court bench of Ohio and his professional reputation was well known throughout the mid-western territory. He was born in Monday Creek Township, Perry County on April 23, 1844 to Michael and Joanna (Brophy) Doyle, descendants of an ancient Irish family. They moved to Toledo in 1847 when John was three years old.

One of five children, John, went through Toledo public schools and attended, for a short while, Denison University. His devotion to and passion for law found him studying the legal profession giving particular attention to the principles of jurisprudence in Toledo. Noted for his sterling qualities, he was admitted as a partner to a legal firm run by his former professor, Edward Bissell. He remained with the firm for thirteen years until he was thirty-four. He then secured a position on the common pleas bench in Lucas County. Mr. Doyle earned a reputation of honesty and gained a large clientele. He was associated with important cases of litigation in early Toledo history.

He was recommended for a Court of Common Pleas judgeship by unanimous vote of the Republicans who dominated the Lucas County Bar Association at the time. He was elected by a democratic majority of 800 and was one of the few Republicans to serve in that election. In 1883, he was chosen to serve as a judge on the Ohio Supreme Court, the youngest member elected to such a position. He is still known as one of the most profound and brilliant jurists Ohio has ever produced.

After his retirement from the Supreme Court, he returned to Toledo and continued in private practice as a senior partner in the law firm of Doyle, Scott, and Lewis. He was always in demand and tried most of the important cases in the city of Toledo during that time.

Judge Doyle married Miss Alice Fuller Skinner on October 6, 1886. Mrs. Doyle, whose ancestor Oliver Wolcott was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and whose father was a veteran of the Civil War, was active socially in Toledo and a prominent member of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). The couple had six children.

John Doyle was a member of the First Congregational Church of Toledo and served as President of their Board of Trustees, retaining the title of trustee emeritus until his death. He was also interested in literature and was a prolific writer. He organized the literary society known as the New Century Club. Of particular interest to him was the history of northwestern Ohio, a subject about which he wrote. His interest in history spurred him to organize the Historical Society of Northwestern Ohio of which he also served as president. The only source of literary acclaim he received was his book A Story of Early Toledo which related early pioneer history and historical facts relevant to this part of the state. The Commerce Club News published this serial throughout 1919.

Doyle was a generous benefactor and a sought-after speaker. Socially, he was involved in numerous clubs which included: the Toledo Club, the Lawyers Club, Toledo Commerce and Country Clubs, Ohio Society of New York, and the Toledo Yacht Club. He encouraged business to settle in Toledo and increase the wealth and prosperity of the city. John Hardy Doyle died on March 24, 1919 at the age of 75. He is interred in a mausoleum along the lake. (Toledo Biography Scrapbook, Local History Room, Toledo Lucas County Public Library.)

 

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