This intellectual colossus of the Old Bay State was more eminent as a lawyer than as a statesman. His soubriquet was "the giant of the Law." Mr. Justice Story of the Supreme Court of the United States pronounced him "the greatest living lawyer, and head and shoulders taller than any of his cotemporaries." These cotemporaries, too, were such lawyers as Fisher, Ames, Dexter, Cabot, Strong, Alexander Hamilton and Governor Sullivan. But he was also a profound statesman, classical scholar, mathematician and learned man. His memory was as great as his other intellectual endowments, and he never forgot anything that he read. Had he devoted his wonderful abilities to politics as he did to law he would have been among the most eminent of American statesmen.
Theophilus Parsons was the son of a poor clergyman of Byefield, Massachusetts, who managed to support himself, his wife and five children, on a salary of two hundred and eighty dollars per annum. What would our clergy of the present day say to a stipend like this? What would Parson Beecher, a New England man, with an annual salary of twenty thousand dollars think of this devout and pious clergyman's compensation? On his mother's side, who was a most remarkable talented and learned woman, he was the lineal descendant of John Robinson of Leyden, who projected the expedition of the Pilgrims in the Mayflower to Plymouth Rock, and died before he could follow them. Theophilus used to boast of this descent, though he was not vain and cared nothing for distinction. It is said he scorned applause and popularity, and had no ambition for honors or office. He was born in Byefield, Massachusetts,