Judge Philip Padgham was born in Kent County, England in March 1839 to English farmers. At age twelve, his family settled in Framington, New York, where he resided until relocating to Palmyra, Lenawee County, Michigan at age fifteen. In 1858, he returned to New York where he earned his teaching degree, working in that profession in Lenawee and St Joseph Counties. On 9 June 1861, Padgham was wed to Miss Eliza C Landon of Sturgis, Michigan.
From 1861-1868, Padgham served as a principal for the Centreville High School, during which service he became an autodidact in US law. He was admitted to the bar before Judge Nathaniel Bacon on 12 June 1868 and began his law career at Centreville until moving in 1869 to Allegan County.
From 1875-1879, Padgham served as the Prosecuting Attorney for Allegan County and as President of the village of Allegan from 1890-1891. In 1893, Padgham was elected to the 20th Circuit Court, which bench he held to 1911. In politics, Padgham was a Republican. He was described thus by a leading member of the Bar :
“Judge Padgham is considered one of the best lawyers in Michigan. During his practice, from the time he formed a partnership with Judge Arnold, he was engaged in most of the important cases of the county. He is a good all round lawyer, equally in criminal, civil, and chancery suits. As a judge it is said of him he has no superior in the State in the management and trial of cases…. He always maintains his equilibrium, has a genial, happy disposition, and is never angry.”
- Men of Progress: Biographical Sketches of Representative Michigan Men (Detroit: Evening News Association, 1900), 250.
- George Irving Reed, Bench and Bar of Michigan: A Volume of History and Biography (Century Publishing & Engraving Co, 1897), 295-296.
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