Marmaduke H. Dent

Marmaduke H. Dent was born in Monongalia County in the town of Granville on April 18, 1849. West Virginia University opened in 1867, and he became the first graduate of West Virginia University in 1870 and the first president of the WVU Alumni Association.

After graduation, Dent taught in West Virginia public schools until 1873, when he became deputy clerk of the circuit and county court. He had decided early in life to become a lawyer, so while teaching school and working in the clerk’s office, he undertook the systematic reading of legal textbooks and, in 1875, was admitted to the Taylor County Bar in Grafton, where he practiced for 20 years.

In 1877, he was elected to the town council and town clerk of Grafton. He served as town attorney for many years. He also was elected to the school board in 1885 and served until 1893. In 1892, he was elected to the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.

An 1892 article about Judge Dent after his election stated, ”...He spares nothing from himself that he would put upon others…In his politics he has many friends outside of his own party…Judge Dent is a firm believer in the legal and moral equality of the sexes. His term of office began the first day of January 1893, and will terminate on December 31, 1904. Blessed with good health and the capacity for hard, diligent, professional work, he is in every way grandly equipped for the high place he now occupies.”

Judge Dent was elected president of the court in 1899, 1900, and 1902. A written memorial tribute to Judge Dent following his death in 1909 states, “He was an eloquent and logical speaker and had the capacity for hard, persistent work. In a large degree, he possessed the judicial temperament and gave to the causes submitted to him in an intelligent mind carefully trained…Judge Dent was of a most genial disposition, agreeable and gentle in his bearing, positive in his convictions, fearless in their expression…and a man whose life and character were enriched with noble qualities of head and heart.”

Judge Dent was uniquely and closely tied to the Alumni Association. Not only did he serve as its first president from 1873 to 1876, he was elected to terms from 1892 to 1894 and 1900 to 1903. He served as president in three different decades over a 30-year period.

In 1993, the Marmaduke Dent Society was founded in honor of Mr. Dent.