J.C. Ropes was the son of William and Mary Anne (Codman) Ropes.
He graduated from Harvard in 1857, and began to practice in Boston in 1861. He was the founder of the Military Historical Society of Massachusetts. He received the honorary degree of LL.D. from Harvard in 1897. He edited, with John C. Gray, the American Law Preview, 1866-70, and was the author of: Likenesses to Julius Caesar (Boston, 1877); 'The Army Under Pope,' in Campaigns of the Civil War (New York, 1881); Campaign of Waterloo (New York, 1893; 3d ed., 1894), and A Story of the Civil War (New York, Part I., 1894; Part II., 1899).
Johnson, Rossiter (ed.), The Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans, 10 vols., Boston, 1904, vol. 9.