- William McLaughlin was born 6 January 1828 in Rockbridge County, Virginia. He apprenticed as a surveyor with his father, but became interested in the law. McLaughlin graduated from Washington College in 1850, then studied law under Judge John White Brockenbrough at his Lexington Law School. While practicing law in Lexington, McLaughlin also taught at the Lexington Law School. (He taught in 1861-1862 and may have taught other years, as well.)
When the Civil War began, McLaughlin enlisted in the Rockbridge Artillery and served throughout the war, rising to the rank of major. After the war, McLaughlin returned to Lexington where he was appointed to the board of trustees for Washington College. He represented Rockbridge County in the constitutional convention of 1867-1868 and in the House of Delegates in 1869. McLaughlin was appointed judge for the 13th judicial circuit in 1870. He also return to teaching at the law school which had become Washington and Lee University School of Law. He taught in a capacity that would today be thought of as an adjunct professor from 1875 to 1885. He died in 1898.