Hartley, Oliver Cromwell (1823–1859)

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: April 29, 2022

Oliver Cromwell Hartley, legislator and codifier of Texas law, was born in Bedford County, Pennsylvania, on March 31, 1823, the son of William and Nancy (Tate) Hartley. He received his B.A. degree from Franklin and Marshall College in Pennsylvania in 1841 and was admitted to the bar in 1844. He served as a private in the Mexican War and was subsequently promoted to lieutenant. He later supported filibustering campaigns to the south. He married Sarah C. Davis of Bedford in 1845 and in 1846 became disabled and moved to Galveston, Texas, to practice law; that year he was appointed reporter of the decisions of the state Supreme Court. In this position, which he held until his death, he reported volumes four through twenty-one of the Texas Reports. Between 1848 and 1849 he compiled A Digest of the Laws of Texas (1850). From 1851 to 1853, he represented Galveston County in the Texas House of Representatives. In 1854 he was appointed by Governor E. M. Pease to serve on a three-man commission to codify the laws of the state, after which he published a volume of forms for use in civil proceedings. He died at Galveston on January 13, 1859. Hartley County was named for him and his brother, Rufus K. Hartley.

Harbert Davenport, History of the Supreme Court of the State of Texas (Austin: Southern Law Book Publishers, 1917). Earl W. Fornell, "Texans and Filibusters in the 1850s," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 59 (April 1956). Zachary T. Fulmore, History and Geography of Texas As Told in County Names (Austin: Steck, 1915; facsimile, 1935). James D. Lynch, The Bench and Bar of Texas (St. Louis, 1885). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Lelia Clark Wynn, "History of the Civil Courts in Texas," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 60 (July 1956).

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Time Periods:
  • Antebellum Texas
  • East Texas
  • Upper Gulf Coast
  • Galveston

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

Anonymous, “Hartley, Oliver Cromwell,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 25, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/hartley-oliver-cromwell.

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April 29, 2022