The Handbook of Texas is free-to-use thanks to the support of readers like you. Support the Handbook today.

Font size: A / A reset

Prendergast, Davis M'Gee (1816–1910)

Randolph B. Campbell Biography

Davis M. Prendergast, lawyer, politician, and banker, was born on December 26, 1816, in Shelbyville, Tennessee, to John B. and Rhoda (King) Prendergast. He attended local schools and graduated from East Tennessee University at Knoxville in 1841. He then moved to Texas, read law with James Raymond at Franklin, Robertson County, and was admitted to the bar in 1845. When Limestone County was separated from Robertson County in 1846, Prendergast became a resident of the new county. In 1848 he married Mary E. Collins, with whom he had seven children. Prendergast practiced law in Limestone County during the 1850s and became a wealthy man who had property, including slaves, valued at more than $45,000 in 1860. As a Democrat, he served one term from 1848 to 1850 as chief justice and represented the county in the Secession Convention in 1861. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Prendergast became the captain of a company he raised for the Tenth Texas Infantry. However, he was injured in a fall and received a disability discharge in 1862. He then returned to Limestone County and resumed the practice of law. He also served in the House of Representatives of the Tenth Legislature, 1863–64.

After the war he remained in private life until he participated in the Tax-payers' Convention in 1871 and the Democratic state convention in 1873. He won a seat in the House of Representatives of the Thirteenth Legislature in 1873, and Governor Richard Coke appointed him judge of the Thirty-third Judicial District in July 1874. Following adoption of the Constitution of 1876 Prendergast won election to the bench of the Thirteenth Judicial District and served one term, until 1880. Upon leaving the district-court bench, he joined Jester Brothers, a banking firm at Corsicana. In 1882 he moved to Mexia and became the senior partner of Prendergast, Smith, and Company, bankers, and subsequently made banking the focus of his business career. He continued his association with the Democratic party until 1887 but then became a prohibitionist. He chaired the "Nonpolitical Prohibition State Convention" in 1887 and Prohibition party state conventions in 1892, 1894, and 1896. In 1892 he was the party's gubernatorial candidate but received only 1,605 votes statewide. He also served the party as a presidential elector in 1904 and 1908 and as a candidate for the state Supreme Court in 1904. Prendergast belonged to the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and when that church opened Trinity University at Tehuacana Hills in 1869 he gave the land on which the school was begun. He served on the Trinity board of trustees for many years and in 1872 helped establish a short-lived law school for the university. He died at Mexia on March 2, 1910. One of his sons, Albert C. Prendergast, became a lawyer and served as chief justice of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

John Henry Brown, Indian Wars and Pioneers of Texas (Austin: Daniell, 1880; reprod., Easley, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, 1978). Memorial and Biographical History of Navarro, Henderson, Anderson, Limestone, Freestone, and Leon Counties (Chicago: Lewis, 1893). E. W. Winkler, Platforms of Political Parties in Texas (Austin: University of Texas, 1916).


  • Education
  • Founders and Pioneers
  • School Founders
  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Lawyers
  • General Law

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

Randolph B. Campbell, “Prendergast, Davis M'Gee,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 30, 2020,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.