Robert H. Burney, state legislator and district judge, eldest son of Hance McCain and Mary A. (Tatum) Burney, was born in McNary County, Tennessee, on October 22, 1854. His family moved to Texas and settled in the Guadalupe valley while he was still an infant. At the age of twenty he joined the Texas Rangers under Capt. Neal Caldwell. He resigned after a year in order to attend Southwestern University at Georgetown. He entered the law department of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1878 and received a bachelor of laws degree in 1879. The same year Southwestern University awarded him the bachelor of arts degree as well. After graduating, he practiced law for a short time in Georgetown in partnership with Judge Thomas P. Hughes. He returned to Kerr County in 1880 and continued to practice law in Kerrville. He was elected state senator as a Democrat from the Twenty-eighth District in 1886 and reelected in 1890. While a member of the legislature he chaired the Committee on Education, the Committee on State Asylums, and a joint committee established to investigate the state comptroller's office. He also authored a bill establishing the state geological department at the University of Texas. In 1904 he was appointed judge of the Thirty-eighth Judicial District by Governor S. W. T. Lanham. He held that office until his death and earned a wide reputation for honesty and independence of thought. Burney married Mattie Prather of Palestine, Texas, in September 1879. They had four children. He died on April 2, 1926.
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Bob Bennett, Kerr County, Texas, 1856–1956 (San Antonio: Naylor, 1956; bicentennial ed., rev. by Clara Watkins: Kerr County, Texas, 1856–1976, Kerrville, Texas: Hill Country Preservation Society, 1975). Lewis E. Daniell, Personnel of the Texas State Government, with Sketches of Representative Men of Texas (Austin: City Printing, 1887; 3d ed., San Antonio: Maverick, 1892).
Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
Politics and Government
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Rebecca J. Herring,
“Burney, Robert Hance,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 29, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
April 7, 2020