Edward W. Biddle (1852-1931)

Edward William Biddle, c.1900

Edward William Biddle was born May 3, 1852 in Carlisle, Pennsylvania to parents Edward M. Biddle and Julia A. Watts. He completed his preparatory studies at Dickinson Grammar School and entered Dickinson College in 1866 with the class of 1870. During his undergraduate career, he was a member of Phi Kappa Sigma (as his three brothers had also been) and Phi Beta Kappa and was active in the Union Philosophical Society. He graduated from Dickinson with his class in the summer of 1870.

Biddle left Dickinson with the intent to pursue civil engineering, but he soon began studying law in the office of his eccentric cousin William M. Penrose. In 1873, he was accepted to the Cumberland County Bar. He practiced law until 1895, then succeeded Judge Wilbur F. Sadler as president judge of the Cumberland County Court of Common Pleas, serving till 1905. In this he was continuing a family tradition; his maternal grandfather - the well-known Judge Frederick Watts - and great-grandfather had been Cumberland County judges.

In 1894, he became part of the first state-wide Bar Association, and in 1896 helped call together the first convention of Pennsylvania judges. Biddle was also active in civic affairs. In 1890, he organized the Carlisle Land and Improvement Society. In 1899, he and his wife were appointed by the Board of Pennsylvania Commissioners to the Paris Exposition. He was also active in his support of his alma mater throughout his lifetime. From 1898 until his death, he was a Dickinson trustee, following in the footstops of his uncle William Biddle, and served as president of the board from 1912 until illness forced his resignation in 1931.

On February 2, 1882, Edward Biddle married Gertrude Dale Bosler of Carlisle. They had two boys - Herman Bosler Biddle, born on April 14, 1883, and Edward McFunn Biddle, born May 29, 1886. Both graduated from Dickinson, in 1903 and 1905 respectively. When Herman died in a railway accident in 1909, his parents donated the Herman Bosler Biddle Memorial Field to the college in his honor. It is still in use today. Having been diagnosed with cancer some weeks earlier, Edward W. Biddle died suddenly on the evening of July 4, 1931 at his home in Carlisle. He was buried three days later in Ashland Cemetery. His pallbearers included the president and the dean of Dickinson College.

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Dickinson College Archives
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