Famous New Jersey Mason
Joseph Dorsett Bedle

Joseph Dorsett Bedle was born at Matawan, Monmouth Co., N.J., Jan. 5, 1831. He comes of an old American family on both sides, his maternal ancestors having emigrated to this country from Bermuda more than a century and a half ago. His father, Thomas J. Bedle, whose immediate ancestors were Jerseymen, was a merchant, a justice of the peace for upwards of twenty-five years, and a judge of the Court of Common Pleas for the county of Monmouth. His mother, Hannah Dorsett, descended from a family that was among the early settlers of the above county. Their son, Joseph D., obtained his early educational training in the academy at Matawan, then known as Middletown Point. He at an early age manifested a predilection for the legal profession, and began his study of the law under the very able direction of Hon. W.L. Dayton, at Trenton, in 1848. 

During this period of four years he attended the regular course of lectures at the law school at Ballston Spa, N.Y. One winter he passed in the office of Thompson & Weeks, at Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and in the spring of 1852 he was admitted to the bar of New York State as an attorney and counselor. Returning to New Jersey, he passed a short time in the office of Hon. Henry S. Little, at Matawan, and was admitted to the bar of that State in January, 1853. 

He began the practice of his profession at Matawan, and in the spring of 1855 made Freehold, in the same county, his residence. Here he soon made his presence felt and won a place among the leaders of the bar. A large, valuable and lucrative practice fell to him, when he was offered by Governor Parker a seat upon the Supreme bench of the State. A high sense of the dignity of this position and of his duty to the community influenced him to accept this appointment, his commission bearing date March 23, 1865. His term expiring in 1872, he was reappointed by Governor Parker, this reappointment doing honor both to the Governor and the recipient. On accepting the first appointment he had made Jersey City his residence, that he might be at a convenient distance from all parts of his district, which comprised the counties of Hudson, Passaic and Bergen. Just prior to the close of his first term, in 1871, he was prominently named as a candidate for Governor, though he himself took no steps to secure the nomination, rather discouraging the movement in his favor. Notwithstanding this fact, his name was again brought forward in 1874, and an unanimous nomination tendered him by the Democratic State Convention. He accepted this nomination only at the persistent and earnest appeal of the party, declaring that as he had been nominated without any effort on his part, so he must be elected, if at all. This course he was constrained to adopt, not from any lack of disposition to serve the political organization with which he affiliated, or unwillingness to assume the dignity and responsibility of administering the government of his State, but simply from a high sense of the impropriety of any action having a political bearing by one holding judicial office. This high-minded determination was appreciated by the people, who elected him by one of the largest votes ever cast for Governor in the State, though opposed by a candidate of great personal popularity. Most unmistakably was he called to his honorable post by the popular voice, whose expectations were in no sense disappointed. His administration from the first was marked by ability, prudence and a patriotism inspired by desire for the public welfare. By his statesman-like views and noble aims he firmly intrenched himself in the respect and regard of the community. Governor Bedle, on the termination of his official career, resumed the practice of his profession, and has since been identified with many important causes, being still engaged in active practice.

The College of New Jersey, at Princeton, in 1875 conferred upon him the degree Of LL.D.

Governor Bedle was in 1861 married to Althea, daughter of Hon. Bennington F. Randolph, of Freehold. N.J. Their children are Bennington Randolph, Joseph Dorsett, Thomas Francis, Althea Randolph, Randolph and Mary (deceased).

Lodge: Olive Branch 16
Residence: Matawan, later Jersey City.