Maurice Victor Barnhill

15th NC Supreme Court Chief Justice

Date Born: December 5, 1887

Date Died: October 12, 1963

Place Born: Halifax County, NC

Place Buried: Oakwood Cemetery in Raleigh, NC


Chief Justice 1954-1956
Associate Justice 1937-1954

Maurice Victor Barnhill was born on December 5, 1887 in Halifax County, NC, the son of Martin VanBuren Barnhill and Mary (Dawes) Barnhill. He attended the Enfield grade school and high school. He attended the University of North Carolina Law School, and was admitted to the NC bar in 1909.

In 1909, Maurice Victor Barnhill formed a law partnership in Raleigh, NC with Walter H. Grimes.

In March of 1910, he moved to Rocky Mount, the largest town in Nash County, where he again opened his own law practice, which he retained for twenty-seven years.

On June 5, 1912, Maurice Victor Barnhill married Nannie Rebecca Cooper, daughter of George B. Cooper and Alice (Arrington) Cooper; they had one son and one daughter.

He served as President of the City Guarantee & Title Company, as President of the Sharpsburg Banking Company, and as Director of the Toisnot Banking Company.

From 1915 to 1920, Maurice Victor Barnhill served as Solicitor in Nash County.

In 1920, Maurice Victor Barnhill was elected as one of two men to represent Nash County in the NC House of Representives of the:
- 104th General Assembly that met in 1921

In June of 1924, Governor Cameron A. Morrison appointed Maurice Victor Barnhill as a Judge on the NC Superior Court.

On July 1, 1937, Governor Clyde Roark Hoey appointed Maurice Victor Barnhill as an Associate Justice on the NC Supreme Court, one of two new Justices authorized by a 1936 Constitution amendment. He remained an Associate Justice until 1954.

On April 30, 1946, the University of North Carolina awarded him the honorary LL.D. degree .

On February 1, 1954, Governor William Bradley Umstead appointed Maurice Victor Barnhill as Chief Justice on the NC Supreme Court, replacing Chief Justice William Augustus Devin, who resigned on January 30, 1954. He was elected in his own right on November 2, 1954, and he served as Chief Justice until he resigned on August 21, 1956.

On October 12, 1963, Maurice Victor Barnhill died, and he was buried in the Oakwood Cemetery in Raleigh, NC.

Appointed as Chief Justice by Governor William B. Umstead on February 1, 1954. Resigned on August 21, 1956.

Son of Martin V. Barnhill and Mary Dawes. Attended public schools of Halifax County; Enfield Graded School, Elm City Academy; University of North Carolina Law School 1907-1909; LLD from the University of North Carolina Law School in 1946.

Member of the North Carolina Bar Association.

Prosecuting Attorney for the Nash County Court - April 1914.

Member of the NC House of Representatives 1921.

Judge Nash County Court - April 1923.

Chairman of the Nash County Highway Commission, Board of Trustees for the Rocky Mount Graded School District.

Superior Court Judge - June 1924.

Chairman of the NC Judicial Council 1951 and 1954.

Married to Nannie Rebecca Cooper on June 5, 1912. Children - M.V. Barnhill, Jr. and Rebecca Barnhill.

Maurice Victor Barnhill (1887 – 1963) was an Associate Justice (1937-54) and Chief Justice (1954-56) of the North Carolina Supreme Court.

Barnhill was born in Halifax County, North Carolina on December 5, 1887 and attended the University of North Carolina Law School. He was a prosecutor in Nash County, North Carolina and was elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives, serving in 1921. He was a Nash County judge and a State Superior Court Judge before Governor Clyde R. Hoey appointed him to the State Supreme Court on July 1, 1937.

As a Superior Court Judge, Barnhill presided over the murder trial that followed the Loray Mill Strike.

He was subsequently elected to the Supreme Court in 1938 and re-elected in 1946. Barnhill was appointed Chief Justice by Governor William B. Umstead on February 1, 1954, and he was elected to the post on November 2, 1954.

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