Thomas Bell Monroe was born in Albemarle County, Virginia, on October 7, 1791. His father was Andrew Monroe, a near relative of James Monroe, and his mother was Ann (Bell) Monroe. His family moved to Scott County, Kentucky, around 1793.
In 1816, Monroe was elected to the General Assembly. He began studying law in 1819. He moved to Frankfort in 1821. Also in 1821, he graduated from the Law Department at Transylvania University. He served one year as Secretary of State from September 1823 to September 1824 in the administration of Governor John Adair. He then was appointed Reporter of the Decisions of the Court of Appeals in 1825 by Governor Joseph Desha. He published a seven-volume set of Monroe’s Kentucky Reports. In 1833-34 he served as United States District Attorney.
In March 1834, he was appointed Judge of the United States District Court for Kentucky by President Andrew Jackson and served twenty-seven years in that position. Monroe served as a professor at the University of Louisiana in 1848 and spent several winters in New Orleans. He also taught at Transylvania University and at the Western Military Academy at Drennon Springs.
He married Eliza Palmer Adair, the daughter of Governor John Adair. The couple had three sons, John A., T. B., and Ben J.
In 1861, Monroe fled to the Confederacy and took an oath of allegiance in Nashville. He spent the war years in various places in the South, attempting to practice law in Richmond in 1864. After Lee’s surrender, he moved to Port Christian, Mississippi, where he died on December 24, 1865, never having returned to his native Kentucky.
"Biographical Encyclopedia of Kentucky" (1878), pgs 547-48;
H. Levin, "Lawyers and Lawmakers of Kentucky" (1897), pg 158.