Members Only Area
Bookmark and Share
sidebar menu icon


TOWNES, ROBERT J. (1806–1865). Robert J. Townes, judge and Texas secretary of state, was born in 1806. He was living in Brazoria in September 1839, when he attended a local meeting called to memorialize the Texas Congress to pass a law quieting Mexican land titles. He attended a Brazoria mass meeting on annexation in January 1845. He was elected district judge in the First (Brazoria) District in the fall of 1852 and rode the circuit for a few years, sometimes exchanging districts with Judge John Hancock. Townes moved from Brazoria to Austin, where about 1855 he built Edgemont, a 100-acre plantation. He was elected president of the Austin Library Association in 1857. In 1859 he was elected to represent Travis County in the House of the Eighth Legislature (1859–61), and in December 1860 he signed the address calling for the meeting of the Secession Convention. On September 8, 1862, Townes succeeded Charles S. West as secretary of state under Governor Francis R. Lubbock; he continued to hold the office under Pendleton Murrah and resigned on May 2, 1865. Townes died near Mount Bonnell on October 3, 1865, and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Austin. The main house at Edgemont burned in 1956.


Dallas Herald, May 11, 1865. Southern Intelligencer, May 4, 1859. Telegraph and Texas Register, November 6, 1839, January 8, 1845. Texas State Gazette, September 4, October 16, 1852, May 28, 1853.

Llerena B. Friend


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

Llerena B. Friend, "TOWNES, ROBERT J.," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed November 25, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.