History of Beggs & Lane
William Alexander Blount, 1851-1921
Portrait of Judge A. C. Blount, Jr.
In 1883 William A Blount formed the law firm of Blount & Blount with his younger brother, Judge Alexander Clement Blount, Jr. The eminent W. A Blount was elected without opposition as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention that produced the Florida constitution of 1885. In 1892 he was appointed chairman of the commission to review the Florida statutes. It is said that he single handedly rewrote the bulk of the Florida statutory law and produced the codification of 1892. In 1903 he was elected state senator from the Escambia County area without opposition.
In 1905 the building owned by W. A. Blount and Thomas C. Watson, was swept by a disastrous fire. Some of the old English Reports in the firm’s library still bear scorches from that fire. J.E.D. (J.E. Davis) Yonge, a graduate from Columbia Law School, was hired as an associate of the firm in 1906. He was the son of P.K. Yonge, a distinguished Pensacolian. The Yonge family played an important role in the development of West Florida over the years, and Mr. Yonge was a faithful bearer of the traditions of that family.
In 1907 Judge Francis B. Carter was invited to join the firm, which then became Blount & Blount & Carter. Judge Carter had been appointed a Justice of the Florida Supreme Court in 1897, but resigned in 1905 to accept an appointment as a Circuit Judge so he could return to his home town of Marianna.
In 1918, the son of Judge E. Dixie Beggs, Sr. was hired as an office boy for the firm. E. Dixie Beggs, Jr. became personally acquainted with all of the founding fathers and recalls that the firm had the largest law library in the area, used not only by members of the local bar association but by lawyers from Milton, DeFuniak Springs, Marianna, and other cities.
On June 13, 1921, Judge AC. Blount retired. A card was published on that day announcing the new firm of Blount, Carter & Yonge. Two days later, on June 15, 1921, W.A. Blount died at the age of 69. The firm of Blount, Carter & Yonge thus lasted only two days and was succeeded by the firm of Carter & Yonge. The attorneys in the firm were Judge F.B. Carter, J.E.D. Yonge, and Judge Carter’s two sons, Dickson H. Carter and Frank B. Carter, Jr. In 1931 E. Dixie Beggs, Jr. was admitted to the Bar and he and his father formed the firm of Beggs & Beggs.
In 1937, when Judge Carter died, Mr. Yonge invited E. Dixie Beggs, Jr. to join the firm. Mr. Beggs, Sr. was in poor health and retired. Mr. Beggs, Jr. accepted Mr. Yonge’s offer with two conditions. The first condition was that he be allowed to retain his salary as state attorney, a position to which he was elected in 1932 and re-elected without opposition for a second term. The second condition was that the young high school student who had been working with his father and him as a secretary, and who showed tremendous promise, could come over as a secretary to the firm. Mr. Yonge agreed to both of those conditions. Thus the firm of Yonge, Beggs & Carter was formed, in the nature of a merger of the prior firms of Carter & Yonge and Beggs & Beggs. Bert Lane, the promising secretary, took the state bar exam at the age of 20 and passed with flying colors.
Throughout the years, sentiment was developing for the adoption of a shorter firm name, one that might be continued indefinitely, unaffected by personnel changes. The consensus of the younger partners was to honor the two seniors and on November 1, 1975, the name was changed to Beggs & Lane.