Son of John Torrey and Sarah Richardson Torrey.
Graduate of Harvard, August 28, 1833. Author of History of the Town of Fitchburg, Massachusetts (1836; reprinted 1865).
Taught at the Blue College on Government Street in Mobile.
Member of Alabama state senate, 1876-80. State legislature, 1875 (ref., The Political Graveyard).
Married first to Elizabeth Sargent Henshaw, daughter of Andrew Henshaw and Elizabeth Isbell. Married secondly to her first cousin and sister-in-law Mary Anderson Isbell Henshaw, widow of his wife's brother Andrew Isbell Henshaw. He and his first wife were the parents of Andrew Henshaw Torrey, Charles John Torrey, and Elizabeth Henshaw Torrey who married Harry Pillans of Mobile. His niece and stepdaughter, Mary Montague Henshaw, married Judge Harry T. Toulmin.
The Torrey plantation was close to the home of the Dellet-Gibbons family, their near neighbors. Judge Torrey had practiced law with Judge Gibbons in earlier days and shared his home on South Conception Street in Mobile during the social season. During the Civil War, the Torrey plantation was taken over by Union soldiers and used as a hospital. Livestock, silver and valuables were all stolen.
The Monroe Journal Death Notices (2003)by Ken Johnson: TORREY, Judge Rufus, Sept. 12, 1882, at Claiborne.
The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, vol. XXXVII (Boston: 1883)
p. 116: Torrey, Rufus Campbell, died in Claiborne, Ala., Sept. 23 (sic), 1882, aged 69. He graduated at Harv. College in 1833. He was author of a "History of Fitchburg," Mass., published in 1836, and reprinted in 1865.
Worcester, Massachusetts DAILY SPY, Sept. 25, 1882, p.4: "Rufus C. Torrey, the historian of Fitchburg, and a brother of Ebenezer Torrey, died at Claiborne, Alabama, on the 13th, of consumption, after a protracted illness. Mr. Torrey was born at Oxford, Feb. 13, 1813, and was the fifth of six sons of John and Sarah (Richardson) Torrey. He graduated at Harvard in 1833, and among his classmates was Dr. Jeffreys Wyman, Rev. Dr. George E. Ellis and Col. Fletcher Webster. Soon after graduating he came to Fitchburg and was the principal of the academy which was located where the high school building now stands. He had lived in the south many years."
The Records of Oxford by Mary deWitt Freeland (1894), pp. 241-46 describes the Wolcott Mansion (circa 1749) where Judge Torrey was born and the home of his early life. Page 243: "This Wolcott home was in its time an elegant residence, constructed with much style, the paneled wainscotting very rich and elaborate, its long narrow windows with hoods or cowls, as they were termed, over windows and doors. In the spacious parlor there was a deep fireplace, ornamented with blue and white Dutch tiles." Page 245: "Afterward the old mansion became the home of Mr. John Torrey, of Franklin, Mass. Mr. and Mrs. Torrey were much esteemed in society.... Of five sons, two became distinguished lawyers; the eldest son, Ebenezer, was educated at Harvard University, studied law in the office of John Shepley, Esq. Mr. Torrey became distinguished in his profession. in 1849 he was one of the five senators elected at large from Worcester county, and was one of a committee on banks and banking. Hon. Rufus Torrey also was educated at Harvard University. At Mr. Torrey's decease the Mobile Register named him as one of the most estimable gentlemen of southern Alabama; he was judge of the County Court of Monroe county; he was chosen to represent the twenty-first district in the State Senate; he died at Claiborne, Alabama, September, 1882."
Fitchburg Past and Present (1887), by William Andrew Emerson, p. 115:
"RUFUS CAMPBELL TORREY was born in Oxford, Mass., Feb. 13, 1813; fitted for college at Wrentham in 1833; spent the next four or five years in Fitchburg, engaged mostly in teaching and editing a newspaper; was a teacher in the Fitchburg Academy; wrote the well known History of Fitchburg in 1836, which was reprinted in 1865; removed to Mobile, Ala., in 1838; studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1840; practiced (sic) his profession at Grove Hill and Claiborne, Ala.; was judge of county court, 1844-48; prominent officer in the Masonic Fraternity; was state senator, 1876-1880, and retired from the practice of the law in 1879; died at Claiborne, Ala., Sept. 13, 1882. In the preparation of Mr. Torrey's History the manuscript of a series of lectures written by his friend Nathaniel Wood, Esq., was freely used and a full acknowledgement of its use made in the preface. This original manuscript is now preserved in the public library."
Page 265: "...and in May, 1834, Farwell printed the first number of a new paper called the Worcester County Courier, William and Rufus C. Torrey, editors and proprietors. The Courier was started as a whig paper, in opposition to the politics of the Massachusetts Republican....
"The Worcester County Courier was continued two full years, to June 28, 1836, when its suspension was announced. At this time the paper was conducted by George D. Farwell as publisher and proprietor, Mr. William Torrey, one of the former editors, having died a year previously, June 12, 1835, while the name of his associate, Mr. R.C. Torrey, had also disappeared as editor, he having succeeded William Cushing as principal of the academy."
Judge Torrey was a lineal descendant of William Torrey of Weymouth, Massachusetts, first clerk of Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and listed as a "Gateway Ancestor" by Baronial Order of Magna Charta and other lineage societies.
Memorials of the Class of 1833 of Harvard College (1883), p.89:
"RUFUS C. TORREY, very thoughtfully, as if with a premonition that he should not live to the Commencement of 1883, sent to Professor Bowen, in 1882, the following brief
"Rufus Campbell Torrey, son of John and Sally (Richardson) Torrey, was born at Oxford, Mass., February 13, 1813. His parents having died while he was quite young, he was
removed to Franklin under the charge of a maternal uncle. He pursued his preparatory studies at the Academy in Wrentham, and entered Harvard College as a freshman in August, 1829. He graduated in due course, in August, 1833. His rank as a scholar placed him near the middle of a class of fifty-five. After leaving college he spent three or four years in Fitchburg, engaged mostly in teaching and editing a newspaper. He also wrote a history of the town of Fitchburg, a volume of about 130 pages, which was reprinted in 1865.
Near the close of the year 1838 he removed to Mobile, and for two years was engaged in teaching, and studying law under the supervision of Judge B. T. Harris, and was admitted to the bar at the close of the year 1840. In 1841 he commenced the practice of his profession at Grove Hill, Ala., and removed thence to Claiborne in 1843, where he has continued to reside to the present time.
In 1844 he was elected Judge of the County Court of Monroe County, which office comprised those of Judge of Probate and presiding Judge of the Court of County Commissioners. This office he resigned after a tenure of four years. For twenty-five years he was an active member of the Masonic Fraternity, and was elected Grand Master of the
R. and S. Masters of the State. He led a quiet and uneventful life till 1875, when he was elected a member of the convention called to revise the Constitution of the State. In 1876 he was chosen a State Senator for the term of four
years. He was married, in 1846, to Elizabeth, only daughter of the late Andrew Henshaw. Four children were the issue of this marriage, three of whom, two sons and a daughter, have reached their majority, and are residing in Mobile.
Deafness and other infirmities increasing with advancing age induced Mr. Torrey to retire from the practice of the law in 1879. He was in comfortable circumstances at the
beginning of the late civil war, but the results of that unhappy misunderstanding reduced him, as they have thousands of others, to comparative poverty."
Rufus C. Torrey died at Claiborne, Ala., September 13, 1882, of the pulmonary disease from which he had so long suffered. He was in the active practice of his profession to within a few years of his death, thus showing the wisdom of his emigration, forty-four years ago, to the mild climate of Alabama.
The Mobile Daily Register, a few days after his death, speaks of him as one of the most estimable men in South Alabama, and as one who left his impress on the people and
institutions of the State. The concluding paragraph of its notice is here given, to which those who can recall the amiable traits of our classmate will readily respond.
" He was of a firm yet gentle disposition, supremely upright in all his transactions, and eminently just to all men, — a man noted for his constant observance of the Golden Rule, — a man who died leaving not one enemy. In the counties of Clarke and Monroe, where his example shone the brightest, among his near neighbors and life-long friends, where he married and toiled, and whence he but Wednesday passed away, his loss will be deeply felt."