An eminent jurist of the State of California, and a man of brilliant mental attainments, Judge William G. Lorigan ever wore the stainless ermine of judicial integrity, displaying in his rulings a quick perception' of the principles of justice and a deep and discriminating study of the precedents and precepts of law applicable to every case, bearing himself always with a lofty impartiality toward the parties and the interests involved. In his bearing toward the bar he was distinguished for the courtesy accorded to every member, and the esteem, confidence and veneration in which he was held will continue to make fragrant his memory through the years to come.

The parents of this distinguished jurist were both natives of Ireland and came to the United States in their early youth, settling in Ohio, but in 1852 they removed from Cincinnati to the gold fields of Australia, and during their temporary residence there William G. Lorigan was born in 1855. Five years later his parents returned to America, and coming to California, settled in Santa Clara County. Here the son passed his youth, taking up his residence in San Jose in 1884. His education was obtained at Santa Clara College, and at St. Vincent's College at Cape Girardeau, Mo. Early in life he began the study of law, and after a thorough course of preparation with the firm of Moore, Laine, Delmas and Leib, at San Jose, he was admitted to practice by the Supreme Court in 1879, when only twenty-three years of age. He immediately engaged in practice in partnership with Harry Benson, and it was not long until he became recognized as one of the best lawyers in the city. An interesting coincidence of this early partnership is the fact that his associate became Justice of the Supreme Court of Oregon, while Judge Lorigan rose to the same distinction in California.

Judge Lorigan was elected twice to the now extinct office of justice of San Jose, and in the fall of 1890 to the office of Superior Judge of the county. He was reelected to the Superior Bench twice and immediately after being chosen for the third term he was appointed by Governor Gage to the Supreme Court of the state to fill a vacancy caused by death; he was elected again and again to this high position until he retired in the fall of 1918. A man of deep convictions, Judge Lorigan was greatly impressed with the responsibilities imposed by the judicial office entrusted to him under our system of government, and for a judge to "play the political game" was in his eyes beneath the dignity of the Supreme Court.

The bench and bar of the community had great admiration for the ability of Judge Lorigan, and at his passing, Justice John E. Richards of the District Court of Appeal, said: "I regard Judge Lorigan as one of the ablest jurists who ever sat on the bench in the State of California. From the time of his admission to practice in the early '80s he displayed the possession of a fine legal and judicial mind to a marked degree. He was selected as a member of the Supreme Bench of California among many aspirants, and from the time of his first appearance on that tribunal he ranked among the most capable of the men who have sat upon it during the long term of his service there. He was particularly marked for his great industry and for his intense and constant love of justice in the concrete and for his knowledge of the decisions of the Supreme Court of the State of' California. His opinions were always full and able, especially those in the domain of criminal law, in which he excelled. He contributed to the body of our substantive law a large number of very able opinions and the law as he declared it in these opinions will be cited by lawyers and jurists with special reference to himself during all the state's subsequent history."

The following tribute is from the Modesto Herald: "Some twenty years ago. Judge Lorigan, then of the Superior Court of Santa Clara County, was by mutual agreement of the anti- and pro-irrigationists called to Modesto to decide a case. Judge Lorigan listened very patiently to the attorneys on both sides for about a week and promptly decided that the anti-irrigationists were in the wrong and the pro-irrigationists were in the right. Immediately thereafter the pro-irrigationists took heart, the irrigation bonds rose from nominal to a comparatively fair valuation, and the Modesto and Turlock Irrigation districts came into the developing stage. These bonds are now above par, and upon the development of these districts and their bonds many other irrigation districts of California are based. Stanislaus County, in particular, and the ever-increasing irrigation districts, owe more to Judge Lorigan's decision in the cases in which he sat in Modesto than to any other influences that have ever been exerted. And Judge Lorigan's decision in this case was so comprehensive and complete that appeal was never contemplated."

Judge Lorigan was in failing health for about two years and he passed away at San Francisco, where he had been making his home, on April 2, 1919, at the age of sixty-four. He was survived by his widow, Mrs. Annie F. (Burgis) Lorigan; a son, Barthol W. Lorigan, a real estate dealer at San Jose; a daughter, Mrs. Burgis Lacoste of San Francisco; and three brothers, Henry F. Lorigan of Oakland; Frank V. Lorigan of San Francisco, and Charles M. Lorigan of San Jose; the latter has since passed away. A deceased sister, Minnie. was the wife of George Nicholson of Alviso. Mrs. Lorigan was a native daughter, born in San Francisco, whose father, Capt. Robert Berseford Burgis. a native of England, was a sea-captain. His wife was Anne Picking, also born in England. and they were married in Christchurch, New Zealand. In the early '50s Captain Burgis took up his residence on Rincon Hill, San Francisco, but continued to follow the sea until his death. Mrs. Lorigan completed her education at Williams' Young Ladies' Academy. Judge Lorigan was an influential member of the Young Men's Institute, the Foresters and the Elks. Rising by native force of character to an eminence of distinguished usefulness, his career commands the admiration of all classes of society, and should especially excite the young men of today to an imitation of the virtues of his exemplary life.
From Eugene T. Sawyers' History of Santa Clara County,California,  published by Historic Record Co. , 1922. 
page 1089

This appears to be a brother of William------bio of Charles Lorigan, was also an attorney in Santa Clara County


SANTA CLARA COUNTY The Valley of Heart's Delight