Minnesota State Law Library
Christopher Gore Ripley was born in Waltham, Massachusetts, September 6, 1822. Ripley’s father, Samuel Ripley, a Unitarian minister, and his mother, Sarah Bradford Ripley, a woman well known for her intellect, formed the Ripley School, which prepared young men, including their own sons, for Harvard. With the advantage of a superior preparatory education from his parents, Ripley attended Harvard College graduating in 1841. He went on to attend Harvard Law School for one year before entering the law office of Franklin Dexter, a celebrated Boston lawyer. Ripley came to the Minnesota Territory in 1855, settling in Brownsville. He married Deborah Ann Frances Horton in 1863. He practiced law for several years before being chosen by the Republican Party as their candidate for Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court. Because Ripley was not well known within the state, his nomination sparked controversy. He won the election, however, and served as Chief Justice from 1870 until 1874 when he resigned due his declining health. After stepping down from the Court he returned to Massachusetts where he spent his remaining years in his family home, until his death on October 15, 1881.
More information on the life and work of Chief Justice Ripley can be found in the memorial, linked below, and the book Testimony: Remember Minnesota’s Supreme Court Justices, which is the source of this biography.