Charles Patrick Daly was born in New York City on October 31, 1816. Following the death of his father, he left school so that he would not be a burden to his stepmother, and worked as a clerk in Savanah, Georgia. The following year, he joined the navy and was present at the siege and capture of Algiers in 1830. The three years that he spent in the navy travelling to distant ports led to a lifelong passion for geography, and he was a founder of the National Geographic Society. On his return to New York, he became an apprentice in the mechanical trade, but studied at night in a literary society. At the end of his apprenticeship, he began his legal studies in the law office of William Soule and was admitted to practice in 1839. John Daly then formed a law practice with McElrath. Four years later, Charles Daly was elected to the State Legislature, and in 1844, he was appointed to the Court of Common Pleas by Governor Bouck on the recommendation of former Governor Marcy. Under the 1846 Constitution, the judgeship became elective and he won the election for the position. He was reelected four times, and in 1858 was chosen as Chief Judge of that court. In all, he served on the court for 42 years and retired in 1885 upon reaching the constitutionally-mandated age limit. To mark his retirement, the New York Bar held a meeting on December 30, 1885, at which former President Chester A. Arthur presided and resolutions honoring his service were adopted. That evening, a dinner hosted by all the judges of the courts of New York City and County hosted a dinner in his honor at Delmonico’s.
Charles Daly wrote many important decisions and interpreted principles of law that were recognized as standard authority in New York and other states. Perhaps his most famous decision was rendered in the Astor Place Riot case. He was also involved in many of the political discussions of the day, including meetings with President Lincoln and providing advice to Chief Justice Chase and Secretary of State Seward.
Charles P. Daly died on September 19, 1899, and was buried near his summer home in Sag Harbor, New York.
New York Times. Charles P. Daly Dead: Ex-Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas Expires Suddenly. September 20, 1899.