Walter Ireland Dawkins was a judge of the Supreme Bench of Baltimore from 1911 to 1934. These records of his cases were presented to the Baltimore City Archives in the late 1950s and were arranged and described in 1978.
Dawkins was born in Leonardtown, Maryland on October 21, 1858, the son of Young Paran Dawkins - a St. Mary's County farmer, merchant, judge of the Orphan's Court, and member of the Board of County Commissioners. He received a B.S. in 1880 and M.A. in 1883 from St. John's College and practiced law briefly in St. Mary's County. Dawkins then moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee and returned to Baltimore City in 1887. In Baltimore he built up a solid law practice and was on several occasions considered a potential mayoral candidate. He was defeated in the Democratic primary in 1906 for a berth on the supreme bench but was appointed in 1911 to fill a vacant term. Later that year he was elected to a fifteen year term and re-elected in 1926. In 1928 the General Assembly extended his term past the normal retirement age of seventy to 1934 when a successor could be elected at a general state election. He retired in that year and died two years later. Dawkins was active in numberous local organizations and served one term as President of the Maryland State Bar Association.
Duke University holds several diaries penned by Dawkins in its David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library. The collection includes ten diaries, with handwritten entries as well as inserted clippings and ephemeral items, dating from the years 1902, 1903, 1905, 1920-1922, 1926, 1929, 1930, and 1932.
There are no detailed biographical sketches available on Dawkins other than some lengthy obituaries in the Maryland Historical Society and the Maryland Department of the Enoch Pratt Free Library. The Maryland Historical Society also has a diary of Dawkins for 1892-1893 (MS 2105) and a published auction guide for the sale of his library in 1937.
This collection consists of notes on cases heard by Dawkins with jury lists and related newspaper clippings. The records cover the following years:
- 1912, Baltimore City Court, 3 vols.
- 1913, Superior Court, 3 vols.
- 1914, Circuit Court of Baltimore City, 3 vols.
- 1915, Court of Common Pleas of Baltimore City, 3 vols.
- 1916, Circuit Court of Baltimore City, 3 vols.
- 1917, Baltimore City Court, 3 vols.
- 1918, Superior Court, 2 vols.
- 1919, Circuit Court of Baltimore City, 3 vols.
- 1920, Circuit Court No. 2 of Baltimore City, 3 vols.
- 1921, Baltimore City Court, 3 vols.
- 1922, Baltimore City Court, 1 vol.
- 1923, Superior Court, 3 vols.
- 1924, Circuit Court No. 2 of Baltimore City, 1 vol.
- 1925, Baltimore City Court, 2 vols.
- 1926, Baltimore City Court, 1 vol.
- 1927, Superior Court, 1 vol.
- 1928, Superior Court, 1 vol.
- 1929, Court of Common Pleas,1 vol.
- 1930, Circuit Court of Baltimore City, 2 vols.
- 1931, Baltimore City Court, 1 vol.
Some of these volumes are indexed.