William Shelby Delaney, son of Henry Field and Rhoda (Prince) Delaney, was born in Union County, Kentucky, on September 18, 1825. He graduated from Cumberland College in July 1847 and taught Greek and Latin there from 1848 until 1851, while he studied law in his spare time. He was admitted to the bar in Caldwell County, Kentucky, where he married Gabriella R. Shropshire on July 14, 1850; after her death he married Mrs. Caroline Shropshire, on July 21, 1863. Delaney practiced law in Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee, from 1854 to 1860, when he moved to Columbus, Texas. He was colonel of a Colorado County regiment in the Confederate Army before he became district attorney of the Columbus district in 1862; he was removed from office as an alleged impediment to Reconstruction in 1865. In 1873 he was appointed to the bench of the Colorado County Court. He represented District Twenty-five in the House of the Fourteenth Legislature, 1874–75, where he served as chairman of the committee on finance. From 1881 to 1885 he sat as judge on the Colorado County Commission of Appeals. Delaney owned large tracts of land in Wharton, Colorado, and other counties and ranked as one of the leading stock raisers in the region. He served as vestryman and licensed lay reader in St. John's Episcopal Church at Columbus. He had five children with his first wife and two with his second. Delaney died at Austin on December 16, 1900, and was buried there in Oakwood Cemetery.