Branch, Edward Thomas (1811–1861)

By: Patricia L. Duncan

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: November 1, 1994

Edward Thomas Branch, early Texas legislator and judge, was born in Richmond, Virginia, on December 6, 1811. After moving to Jackson, Mississippi, he arrived in 1835 in Texas, reportedly having been hijacked en route to Cuba, robbed, and put ashore at Anahuac; he settled in Liberty. He was defeated in the election of delegates to the Consultation but remained in Liberty as a teacher until the spring of 1836. At the outbreak of the Texas Revolution, he joined the revolutionary army. He served as first sergeant of William M. Logan's company from March 6 to June 6, 1836, and saw action at the battle of San Jacinto. He later reenlisted and served from July 7 to October 7, 1836, as first lieutenant in a company led by Benjamin Franklin Hardin.

After the government of the Republic of Texas was organized, Liberty County residents elected Branch a representative to the First and Second congresses (October 3, 1836-May 24, 1838), where he chaired the House Ways and Means Committee. In 1838 a joint session of the legislature appointed him judge of the Fifth Judicial District, a position that constitutionally made him an associate justice of the Texas Supreme Court as well. However, his active service on the bench was brief. The court did not meet until January 1840, and Branch left office on August 12 of that year, before the end of his term. In 1843 he was postmaster in Liberty and in 1846 was elected to the House of Representatives of the First Legislature of the newly annexed state. Branch was a slaveowner who at one time owned 3,343 acres of land. When he was not occupied by public business he divided his time between farming and the practice of law in Liberty County. He was a Methodist and a Mason. He married Annie Cleveland Wharton, an adopted child of Texas patriot and diplomat William Harris Wharton, on August 15, 1838. They had five children. Branch died on September 24, 1861, and is buried in a family cemetery in Liberty.

Joe E. Ericson, Judges of the Republic of Texas (1836–1846): A Biographical Directory (Dallas: Taylor, 1980). Texas House of Representatives, Biographical Directory of the Texan Conventions and Congresses, 1832–1845 (Austin: Book Exchange, 1941).

  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Politics and Government
  • Judges
  • First Congress (1836-1837)
  • Second Congress (1837-1838)
  • House
  • First Legislature (1846)
Time Periods:
  • Texas Revolution

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

Patricia L. Duncan, “Branch, Edward Thomas,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 25, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 1, 1994