Gayle, John

Born: 1792-09-11 Sumter County, South Carolina

Died: 1859-07-21 Mobile, Alabama

John Gayle pursued classical studies and graduated from South Carolina College in 1813. He studied law, earned admittance to the bar, and started a practice in Mobile, Alabama in 1818. Gayle served as a member of the Territorial Council in 1818 and worked as a solicitor of the first judicial district in 1819. Also in 1819, Gayle married Sarah Ann Haynsworth, with whom he had six children. He won election to the Alabama House of Representatives in 1822 and 1823. He served as judge of the state supreme court from 1823-1828. Gayle returned to the House of Representatives and served as speaker in 1829. In 1831, he won election as governor of Alabama; voters returned him to the governor's chair in 1833. After his second term as governor ended in 1835, Gayle returned to his law practice in Mobile. His wife Sarah died in 1835, and in 1837, he married Clarissa Stedman Peck, with whom he would have an additional four children. In 1846, Gayle won election as a Whig to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served alongside Abraham Lincoln from 1847-1849. Gayle earned appointment as U.S. District Judge of Alabama in 1849, a position he held until his death.

Gravestone, Magnolia Cemetery, Mobile, AL; Sarah Woolfolk Wiggins, "Gayle, John," American National Biography, ed. by John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 8:811-12.