Skip to main content
Select Source:

Bean, Roy

Roy Bean, c.1825–1903, legendary American frontier judge, b. Mason co., Ky. He left Kentucky in 1847 to seek his fortune in California. Soon, however, he was managing a trading post in Chihuahua, Mexico. In 1849 he was chased back into U.S. territory for cattle rustling. During the Civil War, Roy Bean aided the Confederate cause by joining a band of lawless irregulars. After the war he followed the construction camps of the Southern Pacific RR as a saloonkeeper and gambler. In 1882, Bean settled at the Texas camp of Vinegaroon, had it renamed Langtry (for the English actress Lillie Langtry), named himself justice of the peace (to which he added the title "the law west of the Pecos" ), and set up court in his saloon, the Jersey Lily. He there began to dispense justice with the aid of one law book and a six-shooter. As a judge, Bean rendered arbitrary and unorthodox decisions, usually tempered with wit and common sense.

See biographies by C. L. Sonnichsen (1943, repr. 1953) and E. Lloyd (rev. ed. 1967).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Bean, Roy." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Feb. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Bean, Roy." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 23, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bean-roy

"Bean, Roy." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved February 23, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bean-roy

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Bean, Roy

BEAN, ROY

Roy Bean achieved prominence for his unconventional law enforcement procedures. His methods for enforcing the law were questionable and unorthodox.

Bean was born circa 1825, in Mason County, Kentucky. His career included many undertakings, not always legal. In 1847, he was in charge of a trading post in Mexico. Accused of cattle rustling in 1849, he was forced back to the United States. He was a member of a group of vigilantes who fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War. Bean was a saloonkeeper and a gambler in the postwar years. In 1882 Bean settled in Texas.

He changed the name of the Texas camp where he lived from Vinegaroon to Langtry and established himself as justice of the peace. His saloon was the courthouse where Bean presided as judge, using a law book, a gun, his sense of humor, and practical thinking as his guides to making judicial decisions.

"That'smy rulin'."
—Roy Bean

Bean died March 16, 1903, in Langtry.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Bean, Roy." West's Encyclopedia of American Law. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Feb. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Bean, Roy." West's Encyclopedia of American Law. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 23, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/law/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bean-roy

"Bean, Roy." West's Encyclopedia of American Law. . Retrieved February 23, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/law/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bean-roy

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.