Biography of Charles Ewing
The Honorable Charles J. Ewing was the only son of James and Marth Boyd Ewing. He was born on June 8, 1780 in Bridgeton, New Jersey, which is in present-day Cumberland County. Shortly after Charles’ birth, his mother died. In the year 1784, his family moved to the town of Trenton. Charles studied at the Trenton Academy. After the completion of his courses there, he traveled to Philadelphia to study the French language. In 1796 he returned to New Jersey so that he could attend the College of New Jersey at Princeton. Today, it is known as Princeton University. After completing a two-year course of study, he graduated in 1798 with first honors, especially in mathematics. Later, he was able to earn a Doctor of Literary Letters degree. After college graduation, he studied law in the office of Samuel Leake, a Trenton attorney. He was licensed to practice and admitted to the Bar in November, 1802. He advanced rapidly and was made a counselor in 1805. In 1812, he was appointed to the office of sergeant-at-arms. Charles eventually became recorder of the City of Trenton. In 1815, he was persuaded to become a reluctant Federalist candidate for the State Legislature. He was appointed in 1819 to serve on a commission created to revise some of the archaic laws of New Jersey.
In October, 1824, Charles Ewing was elected Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court by the two houses of the State Legislature. Ewing was reluctant to accept the position because he had already established a lucrative law practice. Although he demurred at accepting the seat, it soon became evident that he was well-suited to the judiciary. A conscientious judge, Ewing always took the greatest care in hearing each case, but he was able to complete the court’s business efficiently. When his seven-year term was completed in 1831, he was re-elected by the State Legislature.
Charles Ewing was thought to be of the old school. He was considered an excellent conversationalist and could put his guests at ease. Ewing became well-known for his generous hospitality.
He was married to Eleanor Graeme Armstrong, daughter of Reverend James F. Armstrong of Trenton. They had three children; one son, Dr. Francis A. Ewing; two daughters; the wife of Chief Justice Henry W. Green, and the wife of Judge Caleb S. Green.
Ewing died on August 5, 1832. He was one of the first victims of Asiatic Cholera in New Jersey. He is buried in Riverview Cemetery in Trenton, New Jersey. Chief Justice Charles J. Ewing is considered by both his contemporaries and later authorities to be one of New Jersey’s foremost jurists.
Charles Ewing has been distinguished as an honest and thoughtful man, an able and respectful advocate, and a fair and careful judge; and it’s only right that his spirit remains with us in the Township bearing his name.
Surprisingly, the Ewing family never actually lived in present-day Ewing. The Township was so-named in 1834 to honor his service as Chief Justice of the NJ State Supreme Court two years after his death.
Our thanks to the Ewing Township Historic Preservation Society for supplying this biography.