In doing some research, I came across this obituary in "The Sabbath Recorder"

At his residence in Hopkinton, R. I., Sept. 18th, Deacon Daniel Babcock, in his 85th year of his age, and the 59th year of his office in the church, where he was a leader of the choir for about 50 years. He was early elected to different offices in the State Government, which he held and honored until his age disqualified him for holding office. He was forward in every benevolent enterprise undertaken by the church, and possesed a warm and tender heart towards lost sinners. In his death the poor have lost a peculiar friend, his children an indulgent and kind counsellor and father, his widow an affectionate husband, and the church a pillar in the spiritual temple.

I find this to be ambiguous wording. Are they referring to a legal disqualification or to de facto disqualification due to infirmity, senility, etc.? Are there any instances of de jure age limits anywhere in the United States? Any precedent from British law?

  • 3
    My guess is the disqualification was self-imposed, rather than by law -- when he could no longer handle the rigors of office he stopped seeking it.
    – Oldcat
    Commented Mar 13, 2015 at 0:21
  • 4
    Judicial offices (viewed as public offices in some states) often have mandatory retirement ages: e.g. ballotpedia.org/Mandatory_Retirement, talkingpointsmemo.com/news/….
    – Uri Granta
    Commented Mar 17, 2015 at 7:07
  • When top posts are held indefinitely, it is common to have a max age limit not only to avoid senile leaders, but to have some possibility of promotion for lesser officials. Judicial courts are a common example, not only on US. But for elected officials a max limit do not make sense, as electors can see him talking, debating, walking and moving around during the election cycle, and they would not vote for a senile man, right? Or would he hide in a basement for the whole election cycle? hum...
    – Luiz
    Commented Mar 11, 2021 at 16:31

1 Answer 1


As of 1912, Article 77 of Part 2 of the New Hampshire constitution said:

No person shall hold the office of judge of any court , or judge of probate , or sheriff of any county , after he has attained the age of seventy years.

This is still current, but article 78 now.

Also, there was a US Senate rule added in 1963:

No Member of the Senate may serve as chairman of a standing committee of the Senate after he has attained the age of seventy years

Deacon Daniel Babcock was a judge in Washington County, Rhode Island (see Westerly Rhode Island and Its Witnesses, page 177). Many states place age limits on judges, but I haven't come across any evidence so far that Rhode Island did.

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