William Duffy, Esq.

Member of the North Carolina State House of Commons (1806)

William Duffy was an educated man and a lawyer by profession.  He represented Fayetteville in the North Carolina State House of Commons in 1806.  He was a man of talents, with a quick and impetuous temper.  This involved him early in life in a difficulty with Hon. Duncan Cameron, which terminated in a hostile meeting.  Both were wounded; Judge Cameron slightly, Duffy severely.


The following excerpt is from Judge Murphy's oration at Chapel Hill on 27 June, 1827:


     "William Duffy was the child of misfortune.  Thrown upon the world without friends and without fortune, accident introduced him in his early youth to the acquaintance of John Haywood, Esq., the venerable Treasurer of this State; who, in the exercise of that benevolence for which his whole life has been conspicuous, gave him employment, and enabled him to prosecute his studies and prepare himself for the bar.  Duffy had an opportunity of witnessing the splendid displays of Davie and Moore; and he profited by their example.


     He devoted a large portion of his time to polite literature, and acquired a more eloquent style in composition than any of his contemporaries in North Carolina.  He had a slight impediment in his speech, but, by laborious perserverence he succeeded in regulating the tones and modulations of his voice in such a way that this impediment often seemed to be an ornament to his delivery.  He was one of the few men of our country who could read well.  He studied the art of reading, and his friends will long remember the pleasure they have received from hearing him read.  In his addresses at the bar, he was always impressive, particularly upon topics connected with virtuous and benevolent feeling.  He had a vigorous mind, and feelings attuned to the finest emotions.  I remember him with fond affection.  He was my friend, my preceptor, my patron.  He instructe me in the science of the law, in the art of managing causes at the bar, and in the still more difficult art of reading books to advantage.  I wish it were in my power to render to his memory a more permanent honor than this passing tribute of respect and gratitude."