Wythe House - Illustration
|Erected ca. 1755 on the west side of Palace Street near Bruton Parish Church.|
|Taliaferro:||Built by Richard Taliaferro about 1755 and owned by him until his death in 1779.|
|Wythe:||George Wythe and his wife, Elizabeth Taliaferro Wythe, bequeathed property by will of Taliaferro.|
|Madison:||James Madison came into ownership via George Wythe in 1792.|
|Dunbar:||John Dunbar came into ownership via Madison in 1793.|
|Skipwith:||Henry Skipwith came into ownership via marriage to the widow, Dunbar, in 1800.|
|Izard:||Elizabeth Izard came into ownership via will of her mother, Mrs. Skipwith, 1819.|
|Toland:||Henry Toland via James Izard (heir of Elizabeth Izard) in 1837.|
|Millington:||John Millington purchased of Toland in 1841.|
|Sherwell:||Mary King Sherwell purchased of Millington in 1866.|
|Marshall Foundation:||Via Miss Sherwell in 1926.|
|Object of Foundation: to use the Wythe House as a Parish House for Bruton Church.|
|Williamsburg Restoration:||Purchased in 1938.|
|DESCRIPTION:||Brick building, two stories high, covered with wood. Dimensions 36' x 54'.|
|Outbuildings:||Wood Kitchen, one story, 33' x 18' (approximately). 30' from the house.|
|Laundry, one story, wood, 33' x 18' (approximately). 10' from the kitchen.|
|Lumber House, one story, wood, 22' x 33' (approximately). 24' from the laundry.|
|Dairy, wood (10' from kitchen and laundry.)|
|ARCHEOLOGICAL AND ARCHITECTURAL:|
|See: Report written by S. P. Moorehead and G. S. Campbell (March, 1940) Architectural Department.|
The Wythe House is located on the west side of Palace Street bounded by Bruton Parish Churchyard to the south and Prince George Street to the north. The lot is not numbered on early town plats, but is marked "Skipwith," on all of them. The Skipwiths owned the property in the early nineteenth century.
The first legal record relating to the property appears in the will of Richard Taliaferro of James City County, written in 1775 and proved and recorded in 1779. In the document Taliaferro bequeathed "my House and Lotts in the City of Williamsburg situated on the West side of Palace Street, and on the North side of the Churchyard, to my Son in Law, Mr George Wythe, and his wife, My Daughter Elizabeth, during their lives, and the Life of the longest liver of them, and afterwards to my Grand son Richard Taliaferro and his heirs forever. Provided my said Daughter shall die without issue living at her death, but if she shall leave lawful issue of her body living at her death, then I give the said Houses and Lotts to her and her heirs forever." Mrs. Wythe left no living heirs. (Prior to 1775 a boundary to adjoining property put George Wythe on the East: "All those lots... bounded on the North by lot and street [Prince George Street] on the West by the lot of Robert Hyland and John Holt, on the South by the Church Wall, and on the East by the lot of George Wythe.") Mrs. Wythe died in 1787. In 1791 Wythe gave up his life right in the property which then descended, according to Taliaferro's will, to Richard Taliaferro, his grandson. Richard Taliaferro, the grandson, died in 1791. The property was advertised for sale, according to the will, and was sold: "... I hereby devise and direct, that my executors hereinafter named, or the survivor of them, and the heirs of such survivors, shall sell my house and lot of land in the city of Williamsburg, and now in the occupation of the Hon. George Wythe, esquire, upon _ years credit, ... and that the money arising from such sale, shall be equally divided amongst all my brothers and sisters." James Madison, President of William and Mary College, became the owner in 1792. Madison held it only one year, selling to the Reverend John Dunbar in 1793. By the will of John Dunbar (1793 or 1794) the property was devised to his wife, Elizabeth Hill Dunbar; "I give, devise & bequeath unto my beloved wife, Eliza Hill Dunbar, and to her heirs forever all ray Estate both real & personal of what nature whatsoever the same maybe to her sole use & benefit forever." Mrs. Dunbar continued to own and occupy the Wythe House until her death. In 1799 she married Colonel Henry Skipwith. Skipwith and his wife continued to live on the property. Skipwith died in 1815; Mrs. Skipwith died in 1819. According to her will (which has not been located but references to it are extant), the property was devised to her daughter Mrs. George Izard. Mrs. Izard or her heirs held the property until 1841 when Professor John Millington, who had been occupying the house since 1835, became the owner. Millington continued to be the owner until 1866 when he conveyed it to Miss Mary King Sherwell. Miss Sherwell was the owner until 1926 when she conveyed to The Marshall Foundation for use as a parish house for Bruton Parish Church. It was partially restored and used as a parish house from 1926 to 1938 when it was acquired by Colonial Williamsburg Restoration. It is now one of the Exhibition Buildings.
The Wythe House stands on the west side of Palace Street, bounded by Bruton Parish Churchyard to the south and Prince George Street to the north. The lot is not numbered on early town plats, but is marked "Skipwith" on all of them.1 (See Dr. Tyler's adaptation of the town plats, opposite this page.) The Skipwiths owned the property in the early part of the nineteenth century.
Although the lot on which the Wythe House stands is in the York County portion of Williamsburg, no deed of conveyance has been found in the York County records. This would indicate that conveyance of this lot was recorded in either the General Court records, or in the Williamsburg Hastings Court records- both of which were destroyed in the Civil War.
The first record we have found establishing George Wythe on this lot appears in a deed, dated 1772, to adjoining property to the rear of the present Wythe lot, and facing on Prince George Street as follows:
[John and James Blair, executors of John Blair, to James Gardner: October 25, 1772.] -2- ... All those lots of land lying and being in the city of Williamsburg lately occupied by John Warrington and Joseph Kidd, bounded on the North by lot and street [Prince George Street], on the West by the lot of Robert Hyland and John Holt, on the South by the Church Wall, and on the East by the lot of George Wythe." 1
The next record which establishes George Wythe on the property is the will of Richard Taliaferro,2 written in 1775 and proved and recorded in James City County Court in 1779. From the will, it is obvious that Richard Taliaferro owned the property, and that his daughter, Elizabeth, and her husband, George Wythe, had been occupying it for an unspecified period of time. The will allowed Elizabeth and George Wythe life-right in the property, with the reversion of title to Richard Taliaferro's grandson, as follows:
"…I Give and desire my House and Lotts in the City of Williamsburg, situate on the West side of Palace Street, and on the North side of the Church yard, to my Son in Law, Mr George Wythe, and his wife, my Daughter Elizabeth, during their lives, and the Life of the longest liver of them, and afterwards to my Grand son Richard Taliaferro and his heirs forever. Provided, my said Daughter shall die without issue living at her death, but if she shall leave lawful issue of her body living at her death, then I give the said Houses and Lotts to her and her heirs forever."3
Richard Taliaferro lived on his plantation, "Powhatan," in James City County, several miles from Williamsburg. Because he was one of -3- the colony's "most Skillful Architects,"1 and because the house is similar to others attributed to Taliaferro,2 it is believed that Taliaferro built the house. As we know of no other house occupied by George Wythe after his marriage to Elizabeth Taliaferro ca. 1755, it has been assumed that they moved into the house about that time. The house remained in George Wythe's possession until sometime in 1791.
It is thought that, in the latter part of 1748, George Wythe, a young practicing attorney, came to Williamsburg from Spotsylvania County. He had been a student at William and Mary College ca. 17403 coming from Elizabeth City County, his home. Littleton Waller Tazewell states that Wythe "came to Williamsburg and commenced the study of the law under the direction of my grandfather, [Benjamin] Waller, who was ten years older than himself."4 Another source states that Wythe after reading law in the home of his uncle-in-law, Stephen Dewey of Prince George County, had qualified to practice in the General Court in 1746.5-4-
A deed from William Keith to Stephen Dewey (York County records, Deeds V, p. 74) dated November 21, 1743, noted that Dewey was from Williamsburg. Wythe could have lived with Dewey at this time.
While in Spotsylvania County Wythe practiced law with Zacharary Lewis, prominent attorney there.1 In 1747 Wythe married Ann Lewis, daughter of Zacharary Lewis.2 She died in August, 1748.3 A few months later (October, 1748), Wythe was appointed Clerk of the Committees of Privileges and Elections of the House of Burgesses.4 And, on January 16, 1748/49 Wythe was sworn an attorney to practice in York County.5
Where Wythe made his home during his early days in Williamsburg is not known. He may have lived with Dewey. He soon became closely involved in the legislative and social life of the city, which indicated his serious intent to make Williamsburg his permanent residence.
In 1753 Wythe held a mortgage upon colonial lot #27 on Duke of Gloucester Street near the Capitol. The property was owned and lived in by John Palmer at the time.6
In this period Wythe bought items as ink powder, stationery, quills &c from the Printing Office. See: Illustration #5.-5-
At a court for York County on January 21, 1754 "George Wythe Esqr his Majesty's Attorney General and a Judge of the court of Admiralty in this Colony this day took the Oath Appointed by Act of Parliament to be taken instead of the Oaths of Allegiance & Supremacy and the Abjuration Oath and subscribed the said abjuration Oath and repeated and subscribed to the Test."1 "Sometime before May 1755, Wythe was admitted to the colony's supreme bar as an attorney before the semi-annual General Court. No greater badge of distinction could be attained by a lawyer in Virginia's colonial period than the reputation of success in this superior tribunal of original and appellate jurisdiction, over which it was a primary duty of the lieutenant-governor to preside and in which the members 2 of his Council sat as ex officio judges."2
We find Wythe ordering bridles, body belts, saddle cloths, surcingles, martingales, whips, two chairs &c during 1754-1758 from Alexander Craig, the Williamsburg harness-maker. One item in January, 1754 was: "To Covering a Globe."3
An entry dated November 11, 1754 in John Blair's Diary recorded in Blair's terse style: "Mr. Wyth [sic] spent the eveng here" 4
Somewhere ca. 1755, it is believed that Wythe married Elizabeth, daughter of Richard Taliaferro of "Powhatan." About this time, it seems -6- highly probable that he secured the use of the brick house situated on the west side of the Palace Green built by his father-in-law.1 It is quite possible that Taliaferro had constructed the dwelling specifically for Wythe as his daughter's dowry. Fathers of means in this period always made generous dowries of land or money to their daughters upon marriage.2
We see that Wythe was becoming each year more closely aligned with Williamsburg. He represented Williamsburg as a Burgess in 1754-1756; and William and Mary from 1758-1761.3 From 1761-1769 Wythe was a Burgess from Elizabeth City County.4 He was known by George Washington in 1760: "April 1... Recd a Letter from Mr. Digges, Inclosing a Packet from Messrs. Nichos and Withe wch he desired I woud send under Cover to save Friend 5 of mine in Williamsburg as it was to go by Clifton..."5
Thomas Jefferson attended William and Mary College in 1761-1762. While in Williamsburg he met Wythe and Governor Francis Fauquier. These meetings developed fruitfully into a life-long friendship with both. -7- Jefferson refers to the fact that it was through Dr. William Small, one of the professors at William and Mary College, who "filled up the Measure of his Goodness to me, by procuring for me, from his most intimate Friend G. Wythe, a Reception as a Student of Law, under his Direction, ... and "introduced me to the Acquaintance and familiar table of Governor Fauquier, the ablest man who ever filled that Office." 1 In April, 1762 Jefferson left College to study law under Wythe whom later in life he spoke of as "the beloved mentor of his youth." And, commenting on Wythe he said: "he directed my studies in the law, led me into business, and continued, until death, my most affectionate friend." Also, "No man ever left behind him a character more venerated than George Wythe ... His virtue was of the purest tint; his integrity inflexible, and his justice exact; of warm patriotism, and, devoted as he was to liberty, and the natural and equal rights of man, he might truly be called the Cato of his country without the avarice of the Roman; for a more disinterested person never lived..." 2
The first order for goods which Wythe made to John Norton & Son, merchants in London, of which we have record, was in July, 1767. Norton acknowledged the order to his son, John Hatley Norton, merchant at Yorktown, thus: "... P. S. Augst ... I have shipt some Goods pr Anderson to ye followg persons vizt Mr Savage, Geo Wilson, Geo Wythe, ... Govr Fauquier."3-8-
During 1764-1765 Wythe bought items such as books, playing cards, almanacs, and stationery from the Printing Office in Williamsburg.1 Harry playing cards were popular at this time. Wythe must have liked to play cards games as he ordered several dozen packs.
In July, 1767 Wythe was named clerk of the House of Burgesses:
WILLIAMSBURG, July 16."…
The office of Clerk of the House of Burgesses becoming vacant by the resignation of JOHN RANDOLPH, Esq; Attorney General, his Honour the Governour has been pleased to appoint GEORGE WYTHE, Esq; to succeed him."
On December 1, 1768 Wythe was elected mayor of Williamsburg:
WILLIAMSBURG, December 1,"Yesterday, GEORGE WYTHE, Esqr was elected Mayor of this city for the year."
In 1768-70 Wythe was interested in ordering items for the home from John Norton & Sons, London, as well as law books, a carriage, instruments of mechanical nature and clothing for Mrs. Wythe and himself:
[May 9, 1768]
[To Mr. John Norton, merchant, London,]Dear Sir;
... Be pleased to send me a piece of cambrick and another of lawn, one pair of satin and five pair of callimancho or lasting shoes with full heels and a satin cloak for mrs. Wythe, and a piece of irish -9- linen 2/6 per yard, two large damask table cloths, and four small huckaback, six pair of cotton stockings, and two of black silk for myself, a dark tie wig and a sett of balloting glasses such as are used in the house of commons. Mr. Waldron may send me two pair of black Manchester velvet breeches and a suit of very fine light cloath fit for our hot summers with a silk waistcoat and pair of silk breeches besides...
Your most obed Serv.
May 9, 17681
Be pleased to add a black Russells coat for mrs. Wythe, and a piece of fine pocket handkerchiefs.
[Endorsed Virga. May 9th 1768/ Geo. Wythe/ Recd. 20th June 1768...]
[To Mr. John Norton, merchant, London] [May 15, 1769]Dear Sir,
I beg the favour of you to send me the printed journals of the house of commons from September 1766, (until which I have them compleat,) and of every future session so soon as they are published, an handsome large inkstand fit for a public office, a treatise concerning money-matters, (I think the title is "Of civil oeconomy ) written by sir James Stewart, and Fawkes's Theocritus.
I am Sir,
Your most obed serv.
May 15, 17682
[Endorsed: Virginia 15th May 1768/ George Wythe Rec'd ye 8th July/...]
[To Mr. John Norton, merchant, London] [June 1, 1768]By favour of Mr. Stevenson Dear Sir,
I shall be obliged to you if you will send me eight or ten gallons of the best arrack in carboys properly secured, and some garden seeds. Your son left us this morning. He is in very good health and spirits...
Your most obedient servt.
June 1, 17681
[Endorsed: Virginia 1st June 1768/ George Wythe/ Recd. 25th July p Mr. Stevenson...]
[To Mr. John Norton, merchant, London] [June 13, 1768]Dear Sir,
The governours of Virginia by a royal instruction, have from time to time transmitted to the king, secretary of state, Lords of trade, &c two or more duplicates of the journals of the house of burgesses, after every session of the general assembly. The reason of ordering several to be sent is supposed to be for the better assurance of one coming to hand, so that the other it is imagined, can be of little or no use. If I could procure one sett of those duplicates, from the first settlement of this colony til the year 1752, I expect it will be of considerable advantage to me...
Your most obedient servant
June 13th 1768.2
[Endorsed: Virginia 13th June 1768/ George Wythe/ Rec'd the 25 July/ Pr Mr Stevenson...]
[George Wythe to John Norton, London] [August 8, 1768]If you will be so good as [to] procure for me a well built handsome post-charriott, I will remit the price of it in due season. Some thing like the inclosed device may be put upon it. Of the several articles I have lately wrote for, the glasses, balls, and other apparatus, such as are used by the house of commons in balloting, and the duplicates of our journals, I am most anxious about, and earnestly desire your particular attention to. The journals especially would be of considerable advantage to me. I am
Your sincere friend and wellwisher
August 8, 1768
[To John Norton, merchant, London] [August 18, 1768]Dear Sir. I wrote many months ago to messrs. James Buchanan and company for an elegant set of table and tea china, with bowls of the same of different sizes, decanters and drinking glasses, an handsome service of glass for a dessert, four middlesized and six lesser dishes, and three dozen plates of hard metal, 100 skins of writing parchment proper for enrolling our acts of assembly on, several bundles of best quilt, two piece's of blanketing and as many of rolls for servants, 10 or 12 pairs of shoes and two slippers for myself, and one or two other articles which I do not recollect. At that time there was due to me about thirty pounds, I believe, for I have mislaid their last account current and besides I had shipped four hogsheads of tobacco to that house. The goods have not come to hand, neither have I yet an account of sales of the tobacco. If they have not sent, nor design to send the goods I desire you will be so kind as let me have them, with a bonnet for mrs. Wythe, and present the inclosed order and receive the balance. A few days since I desired you would procure for -12- me an handsome well built charriot, with the device now sent painted on it, for which you may depend on a seasonable remittance. I again beg the favour of your attention to the affair of the journals. If they are not to be procured let me be informed what 120 printed copies of them to the year 1752 will cost. If they do not exceed the sum I suppose, the assembly, I doubt not, will defray the expense . ... You will oblige me by sending a copper plate, with the arms of Virginia neatly engraved and some impressions of them to be pasted on the books belonging to the house of burgesses. If any additions are made on the plate in consequence of what is proposed within, I will cheerfully pay the extraordinary cost. J. H. N. left us a day or two ago in good health &c
Your sincere friend and well wisher.
Aug. 18th 17681
[Endorsed: Williamsburg, Virginia 18th Augst. 1768/ George Wythe Esqr./ Rec'd 24th October ... per Capt. Robertson...]
In the above quoted letters, we note that many personal things desired for his home, things needed for maintenance and entertaining. Also, there are items such as ballotting glasses, copper plate of the Virginia arms, copies of the Journals of the Burgesses up to 1752 and an inkstand fit for a public office.
Upon the death of Governor Francis Fauquier an inventory of his personal estate and sale of same was made. Under "Fauquier goods sold different parties" is: Sold to George Wythe Esq"
1 large turkey carpet - - [£] 5/0/0 12 ½ yds. printed cotton - 0/18/9 12 yds. dowlas - 0/1/0 1 hair broom and bottle brush - 0/2/0 George Wythe An inkhorne 0/3/2 1
No doubt John Norton & Sons filled Wythe's order for "an elegant set of table and tea china... decanters and drinking glasses and a handsome service of glass," and it was probably in use by the time he entertained George Washington at dinner. In his diary Washington noted on May 12, 1769: "Dined with Mr. Wythe, ..."2 November 14, 1769 Washington dined and supped at Mrs. Campbell's; November 15 he dined at Wythe's and supped at Anthony Hay's.3 On December 11: "Dined at Mr Wythe's, and the Eveng spent in my own Roome."4
In August, 1769, Wythe ordered another long list of needed goods from John Norton & Sons:
[To John Norton, merchant, London] [August 3, 1769]
I beg the favour of you to send me the articles undermentioned. Capt. Robertson will deliver you nine hogsheads of tobacco, which are all that I made. Pray give mrs. Wythe's and my best respects to mrs. Norton,, and all your good family, and believe me to be
Your sincere friend
3d of Aug. 1769
- 2 pieces of sheeting linen not exceeding 2s per yard.
- 2 pieces of irish linen for shirts 2s per yard.
- 1 piece of ditto ditto 1/3 per yard.
- 1 piece of dark coloured Russia drab.
- Debates of the parliament of Ireland.
- Journals of the house of commons since 1766.
- Some best razors and pen knives.
- A genteel Mans Saddle, brindle & blue housing to be made by Pennymen ord. in J. H. Ns. Letter of 4th Augst. 1
[Endorsed - Virginia Aug. 3d 1769/ George Wythe/ recd. Octo. 18th pr. Brilliant...]
Wythe's political life was very full at this period. From 1769-1775 he was clerk of the House of Burgesses.2 In 1768 he was named to the Board of Visitors of William and Mary College.3 In 1764 when the British announced the Stamp Tax, Wythe maintained "that England and Virginia were coordinate nations united by the Crown alone, a concept later ably expounded by Richard Bland." He was a member of the Committee of Correspondence which protested against the Stamp Act. The Virginia Resolutions of Remonstrance were drafted by Wythe but considered too bold by some of his colleagues, were modified before adoption. In May, 1765 when Patrick Henry introduced his famous resolutions, Wythe opposed them as hasty and premature. He was one of the compilers of the Code of 1769.4 -15- It was in 1769 that Wythe became a member of the Vestry of Bruton Parish Church.1
Wythe's interest in gardens and horticulture is shown in a letter to his friend and former student, Thomas Jefferson:
G. W. to T. JEFFERSON 9. Mar. 1770.I send you some nectarine and apricot grafts and grapevines, the best I had; and have directed your messenger to call upon major [Richard] Taliaferro for some of his. You will also receive two of Foulis's catalogues. Mrs Wythe will send you some garden peas…
[Addressed:] "To Thomas Jefferson esq, Charlottesville"2
In May, 1770 Wythe ordered books from Norton:
[George Wythe to John Norton, London] [May 7, 1770]
I beg the favour of you to get the undermentioned books, and [to] send them by an early opportunity...
Books to be sent to G. W.
- Andrew's reports
- Atkyn's reports
- Benbury's reports
- Burrow's reports
- Fortescue's reports
- Foster's reports
- Melmoth's reports
- Shower's cases in parliament.
[Enclosure dated May 8]
Be pleased to add to the catalogue in the letter the journals of the house of commons since 1766.3
An interesting slant upon one side of Wythe's life in Williamsburg is found in the manuscript account book of Edward Charlton, wigmaker and barber there. Mr. Wythe's account with Charlton ran from March, 1770 to September, 1773 thus:
George Wythe Esqre Dr 1770 March 14th To Brn Dress bob Wig [£] 2. 3. - To Alterg Grissell Tye Wig -.10. - April 9th To pair Curls for Mrs Wythe -.10. - Sepr 1st To one Years Shavg and dressg 2. 3. - _______ 5. 6. 1771 Octr 14th To Brn Dress bob Wig 2. 3. Sepr 1st To one Years Shavg, and Dressg 2. 3. 1772 Sept 1st To one Years Shavg & Dressg 2. 3. 1773 Febry 15th To pair Curls for Mrs Wythe -.10. Septr 1st To one Years Dressg 2. 3. [£] 19.14. 1
In February, 1771 Wythe advertised in the Virginia Gazette the loss of one of his law books:
"I MISS a third volume of BURROW'S REPORTS. Whether it was lent out I forget. Perhaps some Gentleman's servant carried it from the Capitol by mistake last October court. Whoever will let me know where it is, I shall be obliged to him for the information.2 -17-
Wythe continued to send orders to John Norton & Sons for goods of various kinds. On the 18th of July 1771, he wrote to Norton from Williamsburg with requests:
I am about building a small house,1 and must be obliged to you for the english materials, which I shall send a bill of exchange to pay the cost of, so soon as I can get the favour of you to inform me, by inquiring of proper persons, as near as may be, what it will amount to.
A bill of the things I shall want is inclosed, none of which I would have you send til I write again.
It is with pleasure I can acquaint you that your son, who is now at our house, seems to be in good health.
With my best respects to mrs. Norton, and the rest of your family, I am Your affectionate friend,
and humble servant
18th July, 1771
[Endorsed:] Virginia 18th July 1771/ George Wythe/ Reed. 12 September/ [Enclosed invoice:]
A chest of Nice joiner's and other tools, to cost six or seven guineas, or even eight to be complete. A set of tea china. 3 dozen wine glasses & one dozen beer glasses and four wine decanters. oil, colour & brushes to cost 3. 0. 0 400 panes of crown glass 20. 0. 0 2 Mortis locks large 1.13. 0 4 ditto smaller 2.12. 0 3 ditto 1. 2. 6 6 pr. 4 inch dovetail hinges 1. 4. 0 3 pr. smaller do. 48 pr. HL rising joint for shutters 4. 0. 0 48 pr. side hinges do 2. 0. 0 40 2/2 wainscot pullies for sashes 0. 8. 0 65 yds white line for do 2.10. 0 48 brass jointed rings for shutters 1.16. 0 10 pieces flywire 3 feet 1 inch square 10.15. 0 A cask of nails
The tea china & glass ware to be sent to Williamsburg, the others to be left with Mr. Jacob Wray at Hampton for G. Wythe1
Mr. Geo. Wythe's Invoice/ The articles to be provided as soon/ as possible & sent pr/ the memmo. inclosed/ J. H. Norton/ entd. p. 214
Wythe cancelled this order in June 1772 noting that "The articles exceed what I can afford; and therefore I shall content myself without 2 most of them, if not all."2
An interesting order from Wythe to Norton appears in May, 1772:
[May 29, 1772]
[To John Norton esq. merchant in London]
…You will oblige me by sending the books and robe mentioned in the inclosed. I shall draw upon you soon for the cost of two pipes of Madeira wine. With my best wishes for mrs Norton and all your family,
Your humble Servant
To be bought for G. Wythe
The works of Theophilus in greek and latin, two volumes in quarto, published at the Hague in 1751, by Gul. Otto Reitz, -19- Glanville,
Common prayer in greek
A robe, such as is worn by the clerk of the house of commons, but better than the one I had before from mr. Child, which indeed was scandalous.1
[Endorsed:] Virga. 29 May 1772/ George Wythe/ Recd. 21 September/ Goods entd. pa. 163/ Ans. the March 1773/ pr. H. Esten
At about this period in his life, Wythe began to take into his home students interested in reading law. In some instances the young man had completed his studies at William and Mary College and wished to stay on in Williamsburg in order to study further under Wythe. (It was not until 1779 that Wythe was formally a teacher at the College.) James Monroe was at William and Mary from 1774-1776; James Madison (afterwards Bishop of the Episcopal Church of Virginia) was there 1772-1773; St. George Tucker (1772-1773) was examined by Wythe on April 4, 1774, and granted permission to practice in county and inferior courts; John Marshall in College in 1780; Raleigh Colston in 1769; Peter Carr (1785-790); Littleton Waller Tazewell (1786-1790); William Munford (1791-1792); Thomas L. Shippen in 1784; Spencer Roane (1779-1781); Jacob Walker in 1785; John Wilkham in 1785; William Short (1777-1781) Richard Randolph in 1787 (he was Tucker's step-son); John Brown and others.2-20-
Wythe saw fit to order a telescope in September 1772 and in December he asked Norton to send him some mathematical instruments:
[Sept. 8, 1772]
[To John Norton Esq. merchant in London]
I beg the favour of you to send me a telescope. For a good one I would go as far as eight or ten guineas. I would have a light stand to keep it steady upon. With the greatest respect
Your most obedient
Sept. 8th 17721
[Endorsed:] Virga. 8 Sept 1772/ George Wythe/Rec'd the 6 Nov/ Goods entd. ps. 163/ Ansd. the Mar. 1773/ pr H. Esten
[Dec. 12, 1772]
[To Messrs. John Norton & Son Merchants in London]
I lately desired my friend J. H. Norton to send for a few articles upon my account, and to remit a bill of exchange to be placed to my credit. Be pleased to let me have a state of my account, for I do not know exactly how it stands. Jacob Walker, a youth of great hopes, who lives with me, is likely to make a good progress in the mathematics, which he is pursuing with some other branches of useful knowledge. To assist him, I beg you will send me a set of instruments, which his tutor informs me may be had for two or three guineas. You will oblige me by forwarding the inclosed letter to mr. Fauquier. With best wishes for
Your humble servt.
12th of Dec.
[Endorsed:] Virga. 12 Decr. 1772/ George Wythe/ Rec'd 29 Jany 1773/ Goods Entd. pa 212/ Ans. the March 1773 pr. H. Esten.
In 1772 Wythe resigned as alderman of Williamsburg.1
Wythe was a member of the Continental Congress of 1775 and 1776. While in Philadelphia in 1776, Jefferson with his family occupied Wythe's home in Williamsburg. On November 18, 1776 Wythe wrote to Jefferson at Williamsburg:
"Whenever you and the speaker think I should return to Virginia to engage in the part which shall be assigned to me in revising the laws, I shall attend you... In the mean time, I purpose to abide here, if the enemy do not drive me away... The conveniency of my house servants and furniture to you and Mrs Jefferson adds not a little to their value in my estimation. Our best respects to the lady..."2
In 1776 Wythe was a member of the committee to prepare a seal for Virginia, the Commonwealth:
"...The adoption of a seal for the Commonwealth was the last act of the Convention of 1776. [Virginia Convention meeting at Williamsburg.] The committee appointed to prepare a seal consisted of Richard Henry Lee, who was, however, not in the Convention, George Mason, Robert Carter Nicholas, and George Wythe. In Girardin's continuation of Burk's History of Virginia, it is said that Wythe proposed the device adopted by the Convention; and, as Girardin wrote under the supervision of Mr. Jefferson, who was keenly alive to all-such matters, there can be no reason to doubt the fact. George Wythe and John Page were appointed to superintend the engraving of the seal. In the absence of Lee, Mason, as next on the committee, had reported the seal to the Convention, but Wythe was entrusted with its execution, and must have penned the words that describe the seal, which have been admired for clearness and precision."3 -22-
In 1777 Wythe was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. This Declaration was adopted by the Continental Congress in 1776 but the copy engrossed on parchment was not signed until 1777.
In 1779 when Jefferson became a member of the Board of Visitors of William and Mary College, certain changes in the organization were made. At this time, Mr. Wythe was appointed to the Professorship of Law and Police and thus began the first college law course offered in America. In this capacity Wythe rendered outstanding service to his College and to his state in the training of young men in law.
In July, 1779 Richard Taliaferro, the father-in-law of Wythe died.1 A copy of the will follows:
In the Name of God Amen. I, Richard Taliaferro, of the Parish and County of James City, being aged, but of sound mind and memory, do make my last Will and Testament as followeth:
I recommend my soul to the mercy of Almighty God, trusting to the merits of his Son Jesus Christ for pardon and remission of my sins, and my Body to be decently and modestly buried at the discretion of my Executors hereafter named.
I Give and desire my House and Lotts in the City of Williamsburg situate on the West side of Palace Street, and on the North side of the Church yard, to my Son in Law, Mr George Wythe, and his wife, my Daughter Elizabeth, during their lives, and the Life of the longest liver of them, and afterward to my Grand son Richard Taliaferro and his heirs forever. Provided, my said Daughter shall die without issue living at her death, but if she shall leave lawful issue of her body living at her death, then I give the said Houses and Lotts to her and her heirs -23- forever. I also give to my said Daughter my negro Wench Peg, and my negro boy called Joe to her and her Heirs forever. And I further Give her during her natural life the yearly sum or Annuity of twenty five pounds current money, to be paid her after my death by my son out of the Estate hereafter given him. I give to my Grand son Richard Taliaferro my negro Boy Sam, and my negro Girl Aggy, to him and his heirs forever, and to each of my other Grand children a negro Boy and Girl apiece, as near their own age as conveniently may be out of my Stock of Slaves, to them and their heirs forever.
All the rest residue and Remainder of my Estate real and Personal, I Give and Devise to my Son Richard Taliaferro and his heirs forever. And I do hereby constitute and appoint my Son in Law the said George Wythe, and my said son Richard Taliaferro, Executors of this may [my] last Will and Testament, hereby revoking all former Wills by me made, and directing that my Estate be not appraised nor my Executors be obliged to give Security to the Court for the same. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal, the third day of February, 1775, and in the fifteenth year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lord, George the third
RICHARD TALIAFERRO, S. L. S.
Signed, sealed, published and declared by the Testator to be his last Will and Testament, in presence of us who witnessed the same in his presence at his request.
Gabriel Maupin, Ben Waller, Ben C. Waller.
At a Court held for James City County, August 9th 1779. This Will was proved according to Law by the Oaths of Benjamin Waller and Benjamin Carter Waller, Witnesses thereto, sworn to by Richard Taliaferro, an Executor therein named, and ordered to be recorded.
Liberty is reserved to George Wythe, the other Executor therein named, to join in the Probat when he shall think fit.
Ben C. Waller, C. C. Com.1
Geo. Dunlevy, D. C. C.
According to the will, should Mrs. Wythe be dead (she did not die until 1787) at Taliaferro's decease or have no heirs, George Wythe was devised a life estate in the Williamsburg property. Here he was living and here he continued to live until he left the city for Richmond in 1791, upon accepting the office of sole Judge of the High Court of Chancery.
In 1780 John Brown, a student at William and Mary College who studied under Wythe, described the procedure in methods of teaching there:
[Letter from John Brown to his uncle, William Preston]Williamsburg February 15, 1780.
"…I apply closely to the Study of the Law and find it to be a more difficult Science than I expected, though I hope with Mr Wythe's assistance to make some proficiency in it; those who finish this Study in a few months either have strong natural parts or else they know little about it.…1"
In a later letter Brown goes into details as to Mr. Wythe's method of teaching:
Williamsburg, July 6, 1780"…Mr. Wythe ever attentive to the improvement of his Pupils, founded two Institutions for that purpose, the first is a Moot Court, held monthly or oftener in the place formerly occupied by the Genl Court in the Capitol. Mr Wythe & the other professors sit as Judges, Oar Audience consists of the most respectable of the Citizens, before whom we plead Causes given out by Mr. Wythe. Lawyer like I assure you. He has form'd us into a Legislative Body, consisting -25- of about 40 members. Mr Wythe is speaker to the House, & takes all possible pains to instruct us in the Rules of Parliament. We meet every Saturday & take under our consideration those Bills drawn up by the Comtee appointed to revise the laws, then we debate & alter (I will not say amend) with the greatest freedom I take an active part in both these Institutions & hope thereby to rub off that natural Bashfulness which at present is extremely prejudicial to me. These Exercises, serve not only as the best amusement after severer studies, but are very usefull & attend with many important advantages..."
It was in 1780 that Jefferson in writing to James Madison paid high tribute to the College and the new law school there:
[July 26, 1780]
"…Our new Institution at the College has had a success which has gained it universal applause. Wythe's school is numerous, they hold weekly Courts & Assemblies in the Capitol. The professors join in it, and the young men dispute with elegance, mathod & learning. This single school by throwing from time to time new hands well principled, & well informed into the legislature, will be of indefinite value..."2
On September 15, 1781 Washington upon entering Williamsburg, visited the Continental line. "As he entered the camp the canon from the Park of Artillery and from every brigade announced the happy event. His train by this time was much increased; and men, women and children seemed to vie with each other in demonstrations of joy and -26- eagerness to see their beloved countryman. His quarters are at Mr Wythe's house..."1 The battle of Yorktown, doubtless, was planned in the Wythe House while Washington had his headquarters there.
The Wythe House served as Rochambeau's headquarters after the battle of Yorktown. In December, 1781 he wrote Washington that there had been a fire in Williamsburg in which a wing of the College burned and "last night it reached the Governor's Palace (au Gouvernment) where the American Hospital was. We saved all the sick and most of the things in it and kept the fire from spreading to the neighboring houses, especially to mine which is the first Your Excellency occupied and which was covered all night long with a rain of fire."2 It is marked "Quartier general" on the "Frenchman's Map" of Williamsburg of c. 1782.
An amusing incident in the life of Wythe is related by William Tatem, a courier during the Revolutionary War, in a letter to Jefferson. It seems that when the British in 1781 under Arnold had arrived within the Capes proceeded up the James River and were anchored just off King's Mill, Colonel Innis and General Nelson with fifty men waited to give the enemy battle as they landed. Tatem wrote: "I believe the Enemy were deterred from effecting their purpose on this occasion, partly by Colol. Innis's good management, and partly by an accidental occurrence, which happened, much to the soldierly credit of old Chancellor Wythe, -27- and one or two other old Gentlemen who took a pop at them while Partridge shooting near the mouth of Archers Hope Creek..."1
The Frenchman's Map (1782) of Williamsburg shows a large building facing upon the Palace street with a small dependency towards the south. See: architect's drawing from the map in Illustration #1.
Williamsburg Land Tax records, which began in 1782 indicate that Wythe held "2 lots with tax valuation of £3." It was increased in 1786 to £28.2
During 1784 and 1786 Wythe had minor repairs made to the property by Humphrey Harwood, Williamsburg carpenter and brick mason, such as underpinning stable, steps, repairs to grates and well.3
In 1785 Noah Webster visited Williamsburg. While there he met Wythe:
3. Wait on Mr Andrews, professor of Moral Philosophy, a sensible polite man. He introd me to Mr Wythe, professor of Law, a good man, one of the Chancery Judges."
[Letter from Thomas Lee Shippen to Dr. William Shippen, Jr. of Philadelphia. N. P. (Williamsburg) 11 oclock February 5, 1784.]
"My dear Papa,
I am just returned from visiting my good friends and masters Mr Madison and Mr Wythe…
…Last Saturday was the day of my political birth, if I may call so, the day on which I first assumed the character of a Legislator: for then I delivered an oration for the first time in our grand and august Assembly. For such it always appears to me, but on that day perticularly so. I have in a former letter told you its constituent parts, but very lately Mr. Wythe has had a lofty presidential Seat erected, which adds very much to its dignity and may with great propriety be called his hobby horse, this entre nous. This throne has a greater effect in throwing a damp upon the spirits of the speaker, than you can imagine. I was prodigiously alarmed to be sure, but ... I surmounted the difficulties which were opposed to me by my diffidence, my youth, and the solemnity of the occasion, much better than I myself or any of my friends expected: And the applause I met with tho I did not think I deserved it, repaid me for the pain and anxiety I felt on the occasion. The subject was the Impost recommened by Congress, the bill for which, I attacked in all its parts with warmth and violence, and was supported by Ludwell, I had the satisfaction to find that I had made many proselytes to my opinion among those who had been warmly attached to the bill. It is now committed; and we mean in the Committee to make such alterations in the Bill, that its end will be destroyed, and then in the last stage, viz. at ye third reading make a final effort to throw it out, the consequence of which will probably be, that those who supported it, in its original shape, will join us in throwing it out under its then modification." 1
[Letter from Thomas Lee Shippen to Dr. William Shippen, Jr. N. P. (Williamsburg) February 19, 1784] -29- "You desired in your last letter to inform you how I spent my time. I will now comply with your request. Before breakfast, I generally read an hour and a half, sometimes two hours in Blackstone, or else am employed in composition which by the advice of my instructors, I pay a good deal of attention to. From breakfast to dinner, I read Blackstone, Hume, or Montesquieu. After dinner if I dine at home, I either walk out to see my friends, or play a piece of musick on the violin or read some entertaining book in french or amuse myself by recurring to some favorite Roman author Horace, Virgil and Terence I have principally attended to. At night again I very often read very attentively until 10, 11, or 12 o clock according to the subject I am read-on, or my feelings at the time. But as Mr. Wythe lectures every Tuesday, and Mr Madison every Thursday and Saturday, you must conceive that I can read very little on those days between Breakfast and Dinner, as we are at College from 10 to 12; And we live very near a mile from College. The exercise which this necessarily gives me I find of greatest service. I never enjoyed so uninterrupted a state of good health in my life, as I have done since I came to Williamsburg. On those days too, when the hospitality of my acquaintances carries me to dine abroad, I generally give myself up to mirth and jollity from dinner time to night."1
Thomas Shippen, evidently, was in College in October, 1783 for a letter to his sister from Williamsburg, refers to "Miss Nancy Tolliver... who lived with her uncle Mr. Wythe at whose house I have once dined with her."2
Another student of Wythe's Littleton Waller Tazewell, relates in his "Account and History of the Tazewell Family" the story of his intimate association with Wythe beginning about 1786:
"In the autumn of 1786 I was placed as I have stated under the guidance of Mr Wythe. I lived with my father but attended Mr Wythe daily; I was the youngest boy he had ever undertaken to instruct, and had no -30- companion in my studies with him at that time. His mode of Instruction was singular, and as everything connected with the life and opinions of this great and good man must be interesting I will here describe it:
I attended him every morning very early, and always found him waiting for me in his study by sunrise. When I entered the room he immediately took from his well stored library some Greek book--This was opened at random and I was bid to recite the first passage that caught his eye... This exercise continued until breakfast time when I left him and returned home. I returned again about noon and always found him in his study as before. We then took some Latin author and continued our Latin studies in the manner I have above described as to the Greek until about two o'clock when I again went home. In the afternoon I again came back about four o'clock, and we amused ourselves until dark in working Alegbraic equations, or demonstrating Mathematical problems. Our Text books in both cases were in the French language, to which resort was had that I might perfect myself in this language also while I was advancing in the studies whose subjects were so common.
These evening occupations were occasionally varied by employing me in reading to him detached parts of the best English authors, either in verse or prose; and sometimes the periodical publications of the day...
…In the mode I have just described passed away the first year I studied with Mr. Wythe. In the autumn of the next year 1787, my father having purchased Kingsmill and being about to remove there, and Mr Wythe having lost his wife about this time, he proposed to my father that I should board with him. This proposition was readily assented to by my father, and upon his removal from Williamsburg I became an inmate of Mr Wythe's house, My course of study was the same as before, but now having the free use of his library at all times, and knowing generally what would be the subjects of our exercises the following day, I was enabled to prepare myself better than I had done before, and when I was disappointed in this calculation, I rarely found any difficulty in playing off upon him some little stratagem or other by means of which the authors and -31- passages I had already examined the preceding day became the selected books for our next days reading... About this time Mr Wythe imported a very complete electrical machine together with a fine air pump and several other philosophical apparatus. And when this arrived most of our leisure moments were employed in making philosophical experiments, and ascertaining the causes of the effects produced. Several other young gentlemen were also taken by him as boarders, from whose society I likewise derived some information. So this year passed away with me more profitably than even the preceding..."1
Wythe had been a professor of law and police at William and Mary College from 1779. He decided to enlarge his teaching by opening a private school in addition to his regular classes at college:
August 2, 1787."I PURPOSE in October, when the next course of lectures on law and police will commence, to open a school for reading some of the higher Latin and Greek classicks, and of the approved English poets and prose writers, and also some exercises in arithmetic.
Mrs. Wythe's health had been very bad for some time. Because of her illness, Wythe returned to Williamsburg on June 5th 1787.3 He had been there 4 attending the Convention. On June 16, Wythe wrote Edmund Randolph who was in Philadelphia: -32-
[Williamsburg] June 16, 1787."…Mrs. W's state of health is so low & she is so emaciated, that my apprehensions are not a little afflicted, and, if the worst should not befall, she must linger, i fear, a long time, in no other circumstances would i withdraw from the employment, to which i had the honour to be appointed. but, as probably i shall not return to Philadelphia, if, sir, to appoint one in my room be judged adviseable, i hereby authorise you to consider this letter as a resignation, no less valid than a solemn act for that express purpose. My best wishes attend you and the other most respectable personages, with whom i was thought worthy to be assoceated."
In August, 1787 Mrs. Wythe died in Williamsburg:
August 23, 1787."On Saturday the 18th instant departed this life in the 48th year of her age Mrs. ELIZABETH WYTHE, spouse of the Hon. George Wythe,, Esq; of the city of Williamsburg, after a very long and lingering sickness which she bore with the patience of a true Christian..."
For several more years Wythe continued to occupy the property on Palace Street and teach at the College.
Following the death of Mrs. Wythe in 1787, George Wythe liberated several of his slaves. The records of York County for 1787-88 indicate that Wythe liberated a negro, Lydia,3 and two others, Polly and Charles.4 The records of James City County indicate that Wythe legally -33- presented Richard Taliaferro with slaves for the use of Taliaferro's children. Such a gift was recorded at a court of James City County on October 8. 1787.1
A very human incident in Wythe's life is related by Littleton Waller Tazewell, who lived with Wythe at this period and studied law and other courses under the great and wise teacher:
"…While the subject is before me, my recollection is called to an incident that occurred at the York election... After Judge (Henry] Tazewell refused to become a candidate for this county, the Anti-federalists put up two persons by the name of Shields as opponents to General Nelson & Mr. Prentis for the Convention...2 the proclamation had already been made by the sheriff inviting the free holders to come forward and vote; at this juncture an old man by the name of Charles Lewis stepped forward and addressing himself to General Nelson and Mr. Prentis, remarked that he had always voted for them as they would recollect, and that he had never found any cause to regret his votes; but on his way to the Court House he had reflected, that his vote this day would not be reflective of his confidence in these gentlemen, so much as a wish that the proposed constitution should be adopted . ... These reflections had called to his recollection, his two fellow citizens George Wythe and John Blair... whose age and retirement by keeping them aloof from the warm conflict that had been carrying on, had left them still to be impartial and whose long experience and well approved past services... also preferred strong claims to the gratitude of their country. Mr. Wythe and Mr. Blair were unanimously elected... He [General Nelson] proposed that they should proceed in a body from York to Williamsburg, -34- and be the bearers their own request that the persons elected would accept the appointments... General Nelson, placing himself at the head of his fellow-citizens, they moved in a procession to Williamsburg, where upon their arrival they arranged themselves quietly in front of Mr Wythe's house, and deputing General Nelson as their spokesman, he presented himself in their behalf to the old man, and announced what had occurred.
When General Nelson entered the room I was reciting a Greek lesson to Mr Wythe, and never shall I forget the countenances of these two great man (men] on this occasion... Mr. Wythe, who had arisen when General Nelson first entered the study had listened to these words with a sort of impatient anxiety... So soon as the communication was over, he exclaimed, 'At my door, Sir,' and immediately quitting the study went to the front door. We all followed him and when we joined him at the door, the loud shouts with which he had been received by the assembled multitude were still ringing... 'Will you serve? ... '
Mr. Wythe was much agitated... and when the good old man standing on his steps, his bald head quite bare, attempted to speak, tears flowed down his cheeks... It was to me the most interesting scene I had ever witnessed... General Nelson seeing Mr. Wythe's agitation, promptly observed- 'My dear Sir, we prize you too highly, to suffer you to expose yourself thus uncovered, come into the house, and let me report your answer...' Mr. Wythe, however, was still unable to say more than 'Surely, How can I refuse. Yes, I will do all my friends wish.' Hearing which, General Nelson immediately announced- 'He will serve'- and bowing to Mr. Wythe left the house. Again the shouts of the multitude made the Welkin roar, and they passed respectfully by the door towards Mr. Blair's. Mr. Wythe remained bowing most gracefully to the throng, as it moved by him, and when they left retired to his own appartment and was seen no more that day."1
In 1788 Jefferson, then in France, replied to Ralph Izard about sending his son to William and Mary College. His opinion of the College and Mr. Wythe's law school is quoted:
"I cannot but approve your idea of sending your eldest son, destined for the law, to Williamsburg. The professor of mathematics and natural philosophy there, Mr. Madison, cousin of him whom you know, is a man of great abilities, and their apparatus is a very fine one. Mr. Bellini, professor of modern languages, is also an excellent one. But the pride of the institution is Mr. Wythe, one of the Chancellors of the State, and professor of law in the College. He is one of the greatest men of the age, having held, without competition, the first place at the bar of our general court for thirty-five years, and always distinguished by the most spotless virtue. He gives lectures regularly, and holds moot courts and parliaments, wherein he presides, and the young men debate regularly in law and legislation, learn the rules of parliamentary proceeding, and acquire the habit of public speaking. Williamsburg is a remarkably healthy situation, reasonably cheap, and affords very genteel society. I know no place in the world , while present professors remain, where I would so soon place a son."1
Another of Wythe's students, William Munford, wrote about his association with Wythe:
"Chancellor Wythe is the best friend I ever had, and one of the most remarkable men I ever knew, and he certainly has been as kind to me as a father. For what I know of Greek, Spanish, and Italian I am indebted to him. When my father died, leaving his estate somewhat embarrassed with debt, I was attending the grammar school attached to the old college of William and Mary, and Mr. Wythe was then Professor of Law. My mother wrote that she feared her circumstances would not permit me to return to college. Mr. -36- Wythe sent her immediately one of his kindest letters, saying she must not think of stopping my education; that he would take me into his own family, and give me such instruction as he could bestow either personally or by paying the professor's fees. He had taken a fancy to me, and he said he greatly desired that she would comply with this request. From that time for three years, at all spare moments, he devoted himself without reward to my instruction, giving me the best and most excellent advice, and imparting knowledge which I never could have acquired otherwise. Subsequently he gave me the use of his law library, and instructed me in the course pursued by himself in studying law, saying 'Don't skim it; read deeply, and ponder what you read; they begin to make lawyers now without the biginti annorum lucubrationes [twenty years of reflection] of Lord Coke; they are mere skimmers of law, and know little else.' Old as he is, his habit is, every morning, winter and summer, to rise before the sun, go to the well in the yard, draw several buckets of water, and fill the reservoir for his shower-bath, and then drawing the cord, let the water fall over him in a glorious shower. Many a time have I heard him catching his breath and almost shouting with the shock. When he entered the breakfast room his face would be in a glow, and all his nerves were fully braced. Only a few days ago, when I called upon him he was teaching himself Hebrew, studying closely with grammar and dictionary, and once a week a Jewish rabbi by the name of Seixas attends him, to see how he progresses and to give him advice. He still shows me every kindness, and welcomes me as one of his warmest friends. Many a kind note have I received from him since he removed to Richmond, with Greek, Latin, or Spanish sentences interspersed, for he evidently takes much pleasure in writing in those languages..."1
In 1789 Wythe resigned as professor at William and Mary College.
Jefferson wrote concerning Wythe's resignation thus:
"Mr. Wythe abandoned the college of Wm. & Mary , disgusted with some conduct of the professors, & -37- particularly of the ex-professor Bracken & perhaps too with himself for having suffered himself to be too much irritated with that. The visitors will try to condemn what gave him offence, and press him to return: otherwise it is over with the college."1
Wythe did not return to William and Mary College after this trouble. He taught privately in his home in Williamsburg.
William Munford was a student at William and Mary College at this period. On January 27, 1789 Munford wrote to John Coalter from Williamsburg:
"…I hope to be able eventually to attend Mr Madison's lectures on natural philosophy and Mr Wythe's on Law when I have read sufficient on that branch to enable me to do it with advantage."2
On April 24, 1789 Munford wrote Coalter:
"…And I have just begun to attend Mr Wythe on Law to which I shall do with pleasure & alacrity. The exalted character and tried abilities of that Gentleman promise the apt & diligent Student a certain noble source of instruction; and his inattentions & willingness to inform flatters me that even my improvement is not to be doubted."2
On June 13, 1790 Munford wrote Coalter:
"…My great resource is Mr Wythe ... Nothing would advance me faster in the world, than the reputation of having been educated by Mr Wythe, for such a man as he, casts a light upon all around him..."3 -38-
Munford left Williamsburg sometime in 1790 end after an absence of eight months returned to Williamsburg to continue his study of law under Wythe. At this period he lived in Wythe's home and boarded at his table. There he remained until Wythe removed to Richmond in September, 1791. While in Williamsburg he wrote several letters to his friend, John Coalter:
Williamsburg. April 23d 1791."At last, my dear Coalter, I am again in Wmsburg the old and well beloved scene of my Studies, after an absence of eight months... I arrived Yesterday, and am now settled more advantageously than ever I have been hitherto, for thro' the surprizing friendship and generosity of Mr Wythe, I live in his house, and board at his table, at the same time enjoying the benefit of his instructions without paying a farthing. My esteem for this man, together with my love, increase every day, and tho' I can never make an adequate return for the favours which he bestows on me, yet I will do all I can, by scrupulously complying with his directions and endeavouring constantly to please him. In this happy situation, tomorrow I begin the Study of Law, in which under such a Tutor I hope to make some progress...
Yr Affe Friend
Again Munford wrote to Coalter commenting on his life in Wythe's home:
Williamsburg. July 22d 1791"…You cannot perfectly comprehend the divine virtues of Mr Wythe without living in his house. His heart is a receptacle of all that heaven can bestow on a human being, and his philanthropy is universal. How far it extends towards me, one anecdote will suffice to shew. When I returned from the ball [at Travis home (for I slept with Robin Carter, and breakfasted at Mr Madison's I found a fine parcel of apples, peaches and plums on my table. It seems the old gentleman, not knowing of my absence, had sent them up to me, as he always does a part of whatever fruit he purchases. Really, my friend, I know not how I shall -39- ever make a return for the infinite obligations I lay under to him. Would you believe it, that he has begun to teach Jammy, his servant to write? Nevertheless it is true, and is only one more example of that benignity, granted by heaven to the minds of a few. Mrs Cocke, lately dead, professed a soul similar to that of Mr Wythe...
Yr Affectionate Friend
Wythe's affection for Richard Taliaferro, a nephew of Mrs. Wythe, is seen through Munford's comments to his friend:
Williamsburg, August 22, 17912
Richard Taliaferro according to the doctors, is in a great danger from disease similar to that of Tazewell. I hope however as McClurg has gone to him now, that his skill ... may have some good effects. Mr Wythe is greatly distressed for Richard whom he loves extremely and received by the tenderness of his heart my admiration and love of his character"
Wythe moved to Richmond about the middle of September 1791, to take up his duties as Judge of the High Court of Chancery. Munford's letter to Coalter gives details of this removal:
Richmond. September 30th 1791."…
Perhaps you may be surprised at my long silence, but a great many events have happened since I wrote [you] last... In the first place, you must know, my friend (for this is the object which would first give rise to a question.) that Mr Wythe is settled in Richmond, and that, through his extreme goodness, I live with him there. His removal from Williamsburg, and the preparations attending it took up all our time for some days before his departure, and unfortunately for me, I was taken with the ague and fever, in the midst of our packing up, so that he was obliged to leave me behind. He bade adieu to that old town, Wednesday before last, and I was not -40- able to follow his example till day before yesterday..."
Research has found little in the way of furnishings in Wythe's home in Williamsburg except items ordered through John Norton (listed previously in the report and in Illustration #6). The fact that Wythe's inventory has not been found, makes the list far from complete. However, at "Monticello," Jefferson's home, is a mahogany dining table which Wythe gave Jefferson. Also at "Monticello" are pieces of Wythe's silver: a sugar and cream.
Richard Taliaferro, grandson of the first Richard Taliaferro (who built the Wythe House) died in 1791. An item from the will which pertains to the Williamsburg property follows:
Item. I hereby devise and direct, that my executors hereinafter named, or the surviver of them, or the heirs of such survivers, shall sell my house and lot of land in the city of Williamsburg, and now in the occupation of the Hon. George Wythe, esquire,...2
The executors of Richard Taliaferro on November 4, 1791, advertised the house and lot for sale:
Nov. 4, 1791 "Agreeable to the last Will and Testament of RICHARD TALIAFERRO, deceased, will be sold to the highest bidder, on Tuesday the 15th of November if fair, otherwise the next fair day, a valuable1
in the City of Williamsburg, formerly occupied by the Hon. George Wythe,3 Esquire. --- Likewise two -41- very likely NEGRO BOYS, a HORSE, one, two or three years credit will be allowed, the purchasers they giving bond with approved security, to carry interest from the date if not punctually paid.
The property was sold to James Madison, President of William and Mary College, and Bishop of the Episcopal Church. The Land Tax Records for 1792 indicate that Wythe had conveyed "2 lots with tax value of £18.10." to James Madison.2
As noted in the will of Richard Taliaferro (1779) previously quoted in the report-, Wythe had a life right in the Williamsburg property; then it would revert to the grandson Richard Taliaferro. In September, 1791 Wythe moved to Richmond to assume his duties as Judge of the High Court of Chancery.3 Following the reorganization of the Virginia courts it was necessary that he make his home there. Therefore, he gave up his life right in the Williamsburg house. This explains the fact that Wythe seemed to own the property on the Land Books though Taliaferro's executors advertised it for sale.
Madison held the property for only one year. In 1793 he conveyed -42- the "2 lots valued at £18.10" to John Dunbar.1
The Reverend John Dunbar had married Elizabeth Hill Byrd, daughter of William Byrd III of "Westover." Her first husband was James Farley of Antigua,2 by whom she had three daughters. Mrs. Farley's eldest daughter had married Thomas L. Shippen of Philadelphia. Her second daughter, Maria, married Champe Carter, son of Charles Carter of "Shirley" ca. July, 1796 if Mrs. Peachy Wills, the village gossip, can be relied upon. Mrs. Wills who had been married three times and was on the shady side of life when she penned the twenty-page letter to her favorite niece, Mrs. Peggy Coulter, in Staunton made this statement about Miss Farley's wedding:
"Dunbars and Shippens with &c fill'd 2 long Tables put together in the upper chamber, where joviality, conviviality, and polite double entender rendered the feast (which was given in return for the wedding dinner of Miss M, Farley3 they had partaken of) a most enchanting and Elegant way of passing about 3 hours, for the company dont assemble until after 3 and just stay to swallow tea, and then with all due ceremony take leave, & I must needs say that short as the time really was as to hours, I found it tiresome uninteresting and unmeritorious to see the Ladies and Gentlemen for want of such conversation as would become rational beings not to say Christians, continually on the catch for accidental words being drop'd by each other, that could be tortured into indecent meanings, by indecent minds, never failling -43- to produce the meaning simper and to be convey'd round the table (lest it should have pass'd unnoticed by some one) behind the fan, not to hide the blush, for no such symptom of modesty now remains, as it would be thought unpolite in the highest degree to possess so vulgar a proof of low breeding..."1
Dunbar made his will on January 20, 1793 thus:
I give, devise & bequeath unto my beloved wife, Elizh Hill Dunbar and to her heirs forever all my Estate both real & personal of what nature or kind soever the same maybe, to her sole use & benefit forever. And for as much as the title deeds to the House & Lots in Wmsburg which I lately purchased of Bishop Madison, are not yet completed in such a manner, as I am advised may be proper to require that they should be &c I do hereby authorize, requite & request my friend St Geo. Tucker, & Benja Harrison or either of them, to demand & require of the said Bishop Madison full & ample deeds for the purpose of conveying the sd House Lots &c to them in fee simple , for the use of my said wife, her heirs & assigns, in as full & ample manner as she might or would have been Entitled to the same under my will, had such conveyances been heretofore executed to me...2
It looks as though the Reverend Dunbar died in 1793 or 1794. His estate is taxed in 1795 as "John Dunbar's Estate --- 2 lots --- £ 18.10."3
In 1798 the entry has been changed to : "Eliza H. Dunbar --2 lots --- $6.67.4-44-
In 1800 the land Tax entry gives: "Henry Skipwith --- 2 lots [page torn from here]"1
Colonel Henry Skipwith, son of Sir William Skipwith, lived in Cumberland County until his marriage to Mrs. Dunbar, when he came to Williamsburg. A notice of their marriage appeared in a Richmond paper:
[December 17, 1799]"MARRIED
ON Saturday evening last, HENRY SKIPWITH, Esq. of Cumberland, to Mrs. ELIZABETH HILL DUNBAR, of the city of Williamsburg."
Full biographical accounts of Henry Skipwith and of Mrs. Skipwith appear in Illustration #4. Mrs. Skipwith, especially was a most colorful figure. Born a daughter of William Byrd III of "Westover" married (1) to James Farley of Antigua who had taken her to the wilds of North Carolina known as "Saura Town" to settle; then back to Williamsburg. Later she married John Dunbar, minister, and went to live in the Wythe House there. Following Dunbar's death, in a few years she married Henry Skipwith. She continued to live in the Wythe House until her death in 1819.
If there is a ghost in the Wythe House whose high heeled slipper clicks at midnight on the shallow steps of the broad stairs-, it must -45- be the ghost of Mrs. Elizabeth Hill Byrd Skipwith noted above and not Lady Jean Skipwith, wife of Sir Peyton. The story as told in The Williamsburg Scrapbook entitled "Lady Skipwith's Slipper." evidently is somewhat confused. lady Skipwith, second wife of Sir Peyton, died in 1826; Lady Ann, his first wife, died in 1779 at Hog Island. The Skipwith family had no association with the Wythe House before 1800 when Henry Skipwith acquired it through his marriage. Henry was a brother of Sir Peyton. Sir Peyton never lived in Williamsburg. During the Revolutionary War he lived at Hog Island but his plantation and seat was at "Prestwould" in Mecklenburg County, Virginia. If Lady Ann Skipwith's ghost returns, she must have visited the house when the Wythes were in ownership. (See: The story on pages 33-34 of The Williamsburg Scrapbook.)
In 1801 Colonel Skipwith insured the house with the Mutual Assurance Society. The dwelling was described as 54' x 36' of brick with a wooden kitchen 33' x 18', a laundry and a lumber house as dependencies. The buildings were valued at $6300. They were located "between the Church Yard and that of a cross street leading out from Palace street."1
The property was insured in 1806 and in 1815 by Skipwith. In 1806 the brick dwelling has a wooden portico 26 x 12 facing upon Palace Street; in 1815 a stable has been added making four dependencies insured.2
Colonel Skipwith died prior to October 14, 1815. In a letter of this date from Robert Saunders to Joseph Prentis he says: "... our Neighbor Mrs Skipwith is again a Widow; and the persons interested in the Colonells -46- Estate are now here inquiring into his affairs-"1
St. George Tucker, a near neighbor, evidently wrote the long obituary which was to be sent to the "Enquirer" (Richmond newspaper). It is undated. Complete copy in Illustration #4.
As both Colonel and Mrs. Skipwith had married before and had children, it was wise for them to have a marriage settlement which they did.2
St. George Tucker had drawn up this settlement. Unfortunately, no copy has come to light in Tucker's papers- so, we do not know just how it was arranged.
In 1815 Williamsburg personal property lists were filed in detail. Furnishings in Colonel Skipwith's home were listed in this way: It shows that Skipwith owned 10 slaves, 3 horses, 2 cattle, 1 carriage in addition to furnishings in the house such as chest of drawers, secretary, bookcase, side board, wardrobe, tables, settees, beds, Venetian blinds, 2 oil portraits, silver, &c.3 The land Tax for 1815 on the property was listed as "2 lots --- $120."4-47-
Mrs. Skipwith continued to live in the Wythe House until her death in 1819. On August 9th of that year, Robert Saunders, neighbor and friend, wrote St. George Tucker at "Warmister," announcing the death of Mrs. Skipwith on August 6th. He stated that Dr. Henry Skipwith, her son-in-law, had been attending her professionally for several weeks; and that Champe Carter, a son-in-law, was named as one of the executors. Mr. Izard and Mr. Carter have been notified.1
She was interred in the graveyard behind the "Peyton Randolph House," then occupied by the Peachy family. A flat tomb was erected by her three daughters.2
A thorough search into the papers of St. George Tucker and York County records have failed to produce a copy of Mrs. Skipwith's will or any settlement of her estate. Mrs. Skipwith must have had a will. When the property was changed on the Land Books in 1820 it shows: "E. Izard Philadelphia -- 1 lot $2700; $2500 added for buildings. Devised by Elizabeth H. Skipwith to E. Izard and, formerly charged to Henry Skipwith's Estate."3
"E. Izard" (Elizabeth Farley Izard) was the daughter of Mrs. Skipwith by her marriage to James Farley. Her marriage to General George Izard was her third marriage.4
In 1823 the property was insured by the Izards thus: "…that the -48- said buildings at present owned by Mrs. Izard and Genrl Izard of Pennsylvania residing at Philadelphia and are occupied at present by Mrs Page That they are situated on Palace and a Cross street, and adjoining the Church in Williamsburg in the county of York..." The dwelling is valued at $3750.00 with kitchen, laundry and lumber house insured also.1
"Mrs Page" noted in the policy quoted above, was Mrs. Margaret Page, widow of Governor John Page. She with her family had occupied the house now known as the "Brush-Everard House" on the east side of Palace Street from 1812 to January 19, 1820.2
On January 19, 1820 Mrs. Page wrote her son, John Page who was living in Union Town, Monroe County, Virginia:
Williamsburg 19th January 1820…We began to move into Mrs Skipwith's House to Day; I get it for the same rent I have paid for this [Brush-Everard House], or I should not have taken it!…
In the Page-Saunders Collection of Manuscripts are several letters from which Mrs. Page seems to indicate that she continued to live in the Wythe House until 1835 or 1836.4
RICHMOND ENQUIRER, December 16, 1824 (page 4)-49-
[In paper five times-last date Dec. 31, 1824.]
SALE IN WILLIAMSBURG.
ON the first day of January, 1825, one of the most desirable family residence in Williamsburg will be sold at public auction, viz: The house and lots of Palace street owned by Mrs. Skipwith, and now occupied by Mrs. Page. Terms one third cash-the residue on a convenient credit. Sale to be conducted by the subscriber as agent of the present owners, who reside in Pennsylvania.
In 1830 the Izard heirs insured the property. They stated that "at present the buildings are owned by the heirs of the said Elizabeth C. Izard viz. Dr Shippen of Philadelphia & elsewhere and are occupied by Mrs Page That they are situated on Palace street in Williamsburg on the East a cross street on the North and the Church of Bruton Parish on the South..."1
The Williamsburg Land Tax records indicate that in 1837 "Henry Toland [received] one lot via James Izard of Philadelphia."2
In 1839 the heirs of Izard again insured the property. They stated that "the said Buildings are at present owned by Henry Toland & others and are occupied by John Milligan [sic Millington?] That they are situated on Palace street on the East, a Cross street on North and Bruton Parish Church South..."3
Professor John Millington in 1835 accepted the chair of chemistry, natural philosophy and engineering at William and Mary College. Born in England in 1779, he attended Oxford, prepared himself for the legal profession and then for engineering. He was engineer of West Middlesex water works and superintendent engineer of the royal grounds in London. Later he studied medicine. He served as vice-president of the London Mechanics' Institution, professor of natural philosophy at Guy's Hospital and of mechanics at the Royal Institution. In 1829 Millington went to Mexico to superintend some silver mines. In February, 1836 -50- Dr. Milling arrived in Williamsburg to teach chemistry, natural philosophy and engineering at William and Mary College.1
Dr. William Barton Rogers, a professor at William and Mary while Millington was there, comments on Millington's abode in Williamsburg in this way: "…In his pleasant and roomy dwelling on the Palace Green he largely reciprocated the attentions which he received, and the hospitalities which surrounded him."2 Millington was renting at this time.
In July, 1839 Professor Millington addressed his students at William and Mary on "Civil Engineering." This lecture was printed in the September issue (1839) of the Southern Literary Messenger.3
In 1839 Millington in writing to Beverly Tucker at Fauqiuer Springs, refers to a porch on the Wythe House:
Williamsburg Va Monday 12th August 18394
"…We had some friends spending the week of the 3rd with us and she [Mrs. Millington] then appeared perfectly well and in good spirits; but perhaps made too free by sitting in the Porch late, and having all doors & windows open."
In 1841 Millington bought the Wythe House property: "1 lot $3,000. building $2,800. Via Henry Toland." 5
Weekly Gazette & Eastern Virginia Advertiser-51-
E. H. Lively, ed. March 14, 1860
p. 2, c.2 "On the night of the 11th inst. (Sunday) about 7½ o'clock, the cry of fire sprung into action, from all appearances the whole body of citizens. We never witnessed so general a manifestation of sympathy. The house burned however was a mere stable on the premises of Prof. Millington, now occupied by Mrs. Wilmer Jones."
While at William and Mary College he wrote the Elements of Civil Engineering, published in 1839. It was probably, the first American textbook on the subject.
In 1848 Millington was elected the first professor of natural sciences in the newly formed University of Mississippi. This meant that he would leave Williamsburg. However, he did not sell his home there until many years later.
The Williamsburg Land Tax records indicate that Millington owned the Wythe House from 1841 until 1861. (The land records stop at this date). The property in 1861 including lot with all buildings, were valued at $2400.1
In 1866 Dr. Millington conveyed the property to Mary King Sherwell:
[May 15, 1866]
[John Millington and Sarah Ann his wife...a certain lot of land with the Houses thereon, in the said City of Williamsburg, bounded as follows: On the North by Prince George Street, on the East by Palace Street, on the South by Bruton Parish Church Wall and on the West by the lots now in possession Mildred Bowden. The said lot and houses having lately been occupied as a residence by the said John Millington.
Mary King Sherwell
Consideration: $2,500 with general warranty but without English covenants]
Prior to Miss Sherwell's ownership and during the interval from the time of Millington's leaving Williamsburg, the house must have been rented. The writer has been able to find reference to only one family who occupied the property during this interim. Mrs. Victoria M. Lee writing in 1933 her recollections of Williamsburg as she remembered it in the Civil War period, states that "The George Wythe house, facing Palace Green, has not been changed, with the exception of the entrance. This house then had a small porch that it had before its restoration. A family named Jones lived there."1
In the 1880's a family of Harrisons lived in the Wythe House. Mrs. Vandergrift recalling Williamsburg replied to questions about the house thus:
"The Wythe house. I don't know who that belonged to. It was lived in first by one person and then another. Mrs. Harrison lived there for one time. The Millingtons lived there also. I knew every one of them. Mrs. Kate Millington Blankenship of Richmond died not long ago. Old Dr. Millington was charming. Katy used to have parties for children, and he used to get down on his hands and knees and play bear and growl. The old bear was one of the greatest chemists in the country. Dr. Millington was offered important positions in England and never would accept them.
"Yes, when the Harrisons lived there, [there was a garden] because I remember Randolph Harrison working in the garden in his shirt sleeves." 2
Mrs. Vandergrift seems somewhat vague. However, according to Robert S. Bright's memory,
Colonel Randolph Harrison and family lived in the Wythe House (I gather) about 1885.1 Mrs. George Coleman says that the
RandolphsHarrisons were in residence at the Wythe House in 1890.*
Miss Sherwell continued in ownership until 1926 when she conveyed the property to The Marshall Foundation, Incorporated:
May 14, 1926.
Mary King Sherwell, unmarried
The Marshall Foundation, Incorporated a Virginia Corporation.
Consideration: $15,000. with General Warranty and the usual English Covenants, caption property, which is described as follows:"All that certain lot of land together with the brick dwelling house thereon situate at the southwest intersection of Palace Street and Prince George Street, in the City of Williamsburg, Virginia, fronting on the west side of Palace Street, or Palace Green, said property being bounded and described as follows: Bounded on the North by Prince George Street; on the East by Palace Street; and on the South by the North wall of Bruton Parish Church Yard; and on the west by the Armistead property, which was formerly the Bowden property. The property hereby conveyed is the same property conveyed to the said Mary King Sherwell by deed from John Millington and Sarah Ann Millington, his wife, dated April 2, 1866, which deed is duly recorded in the Clerk's Office of the Circuit Court of the City of Williamsburg and County of James City in Williamsburg Deed Book No. 1. at pages 28-29, and to which dead reference is here made; and said property is that generally known as the Wythe House."
On November 11, 1926 at a meeting of the Colonial Dames of America, meeting at Mrs. J. Harry Carrington's home, 2320 Wyoming Avenue, Washington, D. C., a motion to buy the Wythe House for Bruton Parish was made:
Mrs. Tuckerman made the motion that Chapter III, Colonial Dames of America, should undertake the purchase of the George Wythe House in Bruton Parish, Williamsburg, Virginia. The price being $15,000.
The motion was unanimously carried.
A motion to raise the necessary fund was proposed by Mrs. Fendall, seconded by Mrs. Carrington. Motion carried.
Eleanor D. Tucker
Colonial Dames of America1
It was bought for a Parish House for Bruton.
On December 7, 1927 Dr. William A. R. Goodwin, rector of Bruton Parish Church, wrote Dr. William Sumner Appleton, Boston:
"The mantelpiece in the Marshall Room is not an original. Most of the other mantelpieces are."2
Dr. Goodwin wrote to Dr. Appleton again on December 27, 1927:
"The porch to which you refer was built in 1859. It did not belong on the house and besides that it had rotted down..."3
Notes on the Wythe House as dictated by Dr. William A. R. Goodwin concerning its restoration and furnishings in 1926-1938 can be read in detail in Illustration #10.-55-
From 1926 to 1938 the Wythe House was used as a Parish House for Bruton Church. In 1938 it was transferred by the Church to Colonial Williamsburg. Following the purchase the residence was completely restored, outbuildings constructed on original foundations and gardens replaced. The restored residence was opened to the public on March 29, 1940. Since that date, it has been an exhibition building of Colonial Williamsburg.
1. One plat of Williamsburg which has been called the "College Map" has been erroneously dated "1791." It is obviously ca. 1800--and all subsequent plats are even later in the nineteenth century, although they contain names of many eighteenth-century owners of lots. - Back to Text
1. York County records-deeds VIII (1772) p. 86. See: Microfilm of records, Colonial Williamsburg, Incorporated. - Back to Text
1. Gooch Papers: Letters of Governor William Gooch, transcripts in Virginia Historical Society (Richmond) volume 3, p. 1015. There is a copy of the letters in Research Department. See: Illustration #4 "Taliaferro." - Back to Text
3. Oscar L. Shewmake, The Honorable George Wythe (1951) p. 8. - Back to Text
4. Tazewell, "Account and History of the Tazewell Family"; photostat William and Mary College, from copy from manuscript made in 1894 by his grandson, L. W. Tazewell, p. 8-a. - Back to Text
5. Edwin Hemphill, "George Wythe the Colonial Briton ... A dissertation presented to the University of Virginia for the degree of doctor of philosophy," (1937) p. 38. Typescript copy in Research Department. - Back to Text
1. Augusta County Records, Order Book 1. p. 196: May 21, 1747. - Back to Text
2. Virginia Historical Magazine, volume 4, p. 199. - Back to Text
3. Edwin Hemphill, "George Wythe..." p. 52: Ann Lewis Wythe died August 8, 1748. - Back to Text
4. H. R. McIlwaine, ed., Journals of the House of Burgesses (1742-1749) p. 259. - Back to Text
5. York County Records, Judgements & Orders (1746-1752) p.158. - Back to Text
6. Ibid., Deeds V, p. 282: deed indicates that the mortgage was not held many months. Waller's Plat of Williamsburg (1749) shows "Wythe's Lots" on lots, behind the Capitol. - Back to Text
1. Ibid., Judgements & Orders (1752-1754), p. 368. - Back to Text
2. Hemphill, "George Wythe..." p. 78. - Back to Text
4. William and Mary Quarterly, series 1, volume VIII, p. 14. - Back to Text
1. "Majr Richard Taliaferro (Jas City)" bought a pair of boots from William Lightfoot, merchant. See: Mss Lightfoot Account Book, P. 165 (January 3, 1757) Research Department. - Back to Text
2. It is known that "King" Carter gave Carters Grove to his daughter, Elizabeth, upon her marriage to Nathanial Burwell as a wedding dower. - Back to Text
3. Colonial Virginia Register, compiled by W. G. and Mary N. Stanard (Albany. 1902) pp. 132-138; 146-154. - Back to Text
4. Ibid., Pp. 154-180. - Back to Text
5. John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., Diaries of Washington (Boston & N. Y., 1925) p. 147. - Back to Text
1. Fauquier bequeathed Wythe a "single stone brilliant diamond king of the value of 25 guineas." - Back to Text
2. Marie Kimball, Jefferson The Road to Glory. (N. Y., 1943) p. 48. - Back to Text
3. Norton Papers, Colonial Williamsburg Archives: Letter dated July 31, 1767 from John Norton to John Hatley Norton. - Back to Text
2. Virginia Gazette (Purdie & Dixon, eds.,) July 16, 1767. - Back to Text
3. Ibid., (William Rind, ed.) December 1, 1768. - Back to Text
1. John Norton & Sons Merchants of London and Virginia ...edited by Frances Norton Mason (Richmond, 1937) pp. 50-51 - Back to Text
2. Ibid., pp. 51-52. - Back to Text
1. Ibid., p. 53. - Back to Text
2. Ibid., p. 54. - Back to Text
1. Norton Papers Mss, Colonial Williamsburg Archives. - Back to Text
1. Ibid., pp. 58-59. - Back to Text
1. York County Records, Wills & Inventories, Book 22, pp. 83-99 (July, 1768). - Back to Text
2. Fitzpatrick, John C., (ed.) George Washington Colonial Traveler, 1732-1775, Volume 1, p. 324. - Back to Text
3. Diary., p. 352. - Back to Text
4. Fitzpatrick, John C., Diaries of Washington 1748-1799), volume 1, p. 355. - Back to Text
1. John Norton & Sons... p. 101. - Back to Text
2. Dictionary of America Biography; and Journals of the House of Burgesses (1769-1775). - Back to Text
3. Tyler, Virginia Biography, volume 2, p. 40. - Back to Text
4. Above statements taken from Dictionary of American Biography and Lyon G. Tyler, Virginia Biography, volume 2, p. 40. - Back to Text
1. Goodwin, Record of Bruton Parish Church (Richmond, 1941) p. 104. - Back to Text
2. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, volume 1 (1760-1776) edited by Julian P. Boyd (Princeton, 1950) P. 38. Original of letter in Massachusetts Historical Society. - Back to Text
3. Norton Papers, Colonial Williamsburg. - Back to Text
1. Mss Account Book of Edward Charlton, wigmaker and barber, Williamsburg 1769-1773; p. 31. On loan to Research Department from Mrs. E. Lee Kirby. - Back to Text
2. Virginia Gazette (Rind, ed.)January 31, 1771. - Back to Text
1. John Norton & Sons ... pp. 169. - Back to Text
2. Norton Papers, Colonial Williamsburg, June 17, 1772: Wythe to Norton. - Back to Text
1. Ibid., pp. 242-243. - Back to Text
1. John Norton & Sons, p. 270. - Back to Text
2. Ibid., p. 290. - Back to Text
1. Virginia Gazette (Purdy and Dixon, eds.) December 3, 1772. - Back to Text
2. Julian P. Boyd, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson (Princeton University Press, 1956) pp. 603-604. - Back to Text
3. William and Mary Quarterly, series 1. volume 3, p. 91. - Back to Text
1. Virginia Gazette (Clarkson and Davis, eds.) July 5, 1779: "WILLIAMSBURG, July 3 Major RICHARD TALIAFERRO, of James City County." Filed under "DEATHS." - Back to Text
1. William and Mary Quarterly, series 1, volume 12, pp. 124-125. - Back to Text
1. William and Mary College Quarterly series 1, volume 9, p. 76: Letters of John Brown to William Preston of Montgomery County, Virginia. - Back to Text
1. Ibid., pp. 79-80. - Back to Text
2. McIlwaine, H. R. ed., Official Letters of the Governors of Virginia, volume 2, p. 141. - Back to Text
1. Coleman, Mary Haldane, St. George Tucker Citizen of No Mean City. (Richmond, 1938) p. 70. - Back to Text
2. Comte de Rochambeau-Correspondence, volume 3734, p. 178: Copy in "Capitol Second Building Report" Research Department, Colonial Williamsburg, Incorporated. - Back to Text
1. Julian P. Boyd, ed , The Papers of Thomas Jefferson (Princeton University Press, 1951) volume 4. p. 274. - Back to Text
4. Notes on the Life of Noah Webster, by Emily E. Ford (N. Y. 1912): Diary 1785 copied from typescript "William and Mary College Notes" by Mrs. Rutherfoord Goodwin (1953) Research Department, Colonial Williamsburg, Incorporated. - Back to Text
1. Shippen Papers, Library of Congress; typescript, on card in Research Department, Colonial Williamsburg, Incorporated. - Back to Text
1. Ibid. - Back to Text
2. Ibid. - Back to Text
2. Virginia Gazette and Weekly Advertiser (Nicolson ed.) August 2, 1787. - Back to Text
3. Oscar L. Shewmake, The Honorable George Wythe (Richmond, 1950) p. 18. The statement is made in this book. He does not give the source. - Back to Text
4. In Philadelphia. - Back to Text
1. Typescript in Research Department from Emmet Collection, 95142. (New York Public Library) Letter: From George Wythe to Edmund Randolph, June 16, 1787. Wythe had been sent as a delegate from Virginia to the Convention of 1787 at Philadelphia. - Back to Text
3. York County Records, Order Book (1784-1787) p. 504: September court 1787. - Back to Text
4. Ibid., Deed Book 6. p. 371 and 190. - Back to Text
1. Copy of this deed of gift in William and Mary Quarterly, series 1, volume 12, pp. 125-126. - Back to Text
2. The Virginia Convention of 1788 which met in Richmond. - Back to Text
1. Littleton Waller Tazewell's "An Account and History of the Tazewell Family..." Mss photostat copy at William and Mary College. - Back to Text
1.William and Mary College Quarterly, series 1. volume 6, pp. 182-183. - Back to Text
1. George Wythe Munford, The Two Parsons (Richmond, 1884) pp. 363-364 quoting his father, William. - Back to Text
1. A Handbook for the Exhibition Buildings of Colonial Williamsburg, (Williamsburg, 1947) page 91. - Back to Text
2. John Thompson Brown Papers, William and Mary College. - Back to Text
3. Ibid. - Back to Text
1. Ibid. - Back to Text
1. Ibid. William Munford to John Coalter, Staunton. - Back to Text
2. Ibid. William Munford to John Coalter, Staunton. - Back to Text
1. Ibid. William Munford to John Coalter, Staunton. - Back to Text
1. Virginia Gazette and Weekly Advertiser, (Nicolson, ed.) November 4, 1791. - Back to Text
3. Oscar L. Shewmake, Honorable George Wythe. p. 30 - Back to Text
3. Maria Farley, daughter of Mrs. Skipwith, married Champe Carter. - Back to Text
1. The Williamsburg Scrap Book. compiled by The Williamsburg Garden Club (Richmond, 1937) p. 20. A Typescript copy in Research Department states it is from Tucker-Coleman Collection. The original letter has not been located. - Back to Text
2. Southall Papers- Legal Cases and Estates, James City County records: John Dunbar Estate 1793-1839; William and Mary College Archives. - Back to Text
4. Ibid. - Back to Text
1. Ibid. - Back to Text
2. The Virginia Gazette & General Advertiser, ( volume XIV No. 751, Richmond) by Augustine Davis: Tuesday, December 17, 1799 issue. - Back to Text
2. Ibid. - Back to Text
1. Typescript letters from Prentis Collection (orig. at University of Virginia) Research Department. Also, in the Tucker-Coleman Collection, Uncatalogued, are letters of this period to and from St. George Tucker to Mrs. Fulwar Skipwith, Baton Rouge, in which they refer frequently to Colonel Skipwith or his wife as neighbors. There are references to the Skipwiths being invited to tea at the Tucker House &c. See: numerous comments as to Colonel and Mrs Skipwith as neighbors &c of Tuckers in Illustration #4. - Back to Text
1. Tucker-Coleman Uncat. Me: Robert Saunders to St. George Tucker, August 9, 1819, Colonial Williamsburg, Incorporated. - Back to Text
2. Tucker-Coleman Ms Uncatalogued Papers, Tucker Lot bounded thus: "on North by Lot formerly belonging to Dr James Carter & now in Occupation of Its Margaret Page." Letter dated April 1, 1815. (See: Brush-Everard House History, Research Department). Also, Ibid., Littleton Tazewell to Mrs. Coulter, June 8, 1812. - Back to Text
3. William and Mary Archives: Page-Saunders Papers, folder 1- Letter from Mrs. Margaret Page to John Page, Monroe County, Virginia, January 19, 1820. - Back to Text
4. Page-Saunders Collection, William and Mary Archives: Letter to Lucy Tucker, December 2, 1827; to Lucy Saunders on August 12, 1835, and others. - Back to Text
2. William and Mary Quarterly, series 2 volume 3, pp.23-35: "Professor John Millington" by George F. Holmes. - Back to Text
3. Southern Literary Messenger, volume 9, pp. 592-595, September, 1939. - Back to Text
4. Tucker-Coleman Collection, Williamsburg Archives. - Back to Text
2. Williamsburg Hustings Court Clerk's Office, Deed Book 1. pp. 28-29. - Back to Text
1. "Williamsburg in 1861," typescript in Research Department, p. 84. - Back to Text
2. Mrs. Martha Vandergrift, "Williamsburg in 1844," p. 90. Typescript in Research Department, CWI. - Back to Text
1. Bright, Robert S., Memories of Williamsburg and Stories of my Father. (Richmond, 1941) pp. 6-7. - Back to Text
* From 1907 until the early 1920's Dr. Edwin Gilliam Booth an his family live at the Wythe House [Hugh S. Cumming, Jr. (grandson of Dr. Booth) to Carlilse H. Humelsine, 11 Mar. 1965]. - Back to Text
2. Williamsburg and the County of James City court records, Deed Book II, pp. 303-304. - Back to Text
1. Copied from the Wythe House report (1938) page 31. Copy in Research Department. - Back to Text
2. Ibid., p. 34. - Back to Text
3. Ibid., p. 34. - Back to Text
Williamsburg Land Tax Records:
|1782--||George Wythe----------||2 lots||£ 3. -. -|
|1785--||George Wythe ---------||2 lots||4.10. -|
|1786--||George Wythe ---------||2 lots||28.- .-|
|1789---||George Wythe ---------||2 lots||18.10.|
|1792--||George Wythe to James Madison ------||2 lots||18.10.|
|1793--||James Madison to Jno Dunbar -------||2 lots||18.10.|
|1795--||John Dunbar's Estate----||2 lots||18.10.|
|1797--||John Dunbar's est ----||2 lots||18.10.|
|1798--||Eliza H. Dunbar ------||2 lots||$61.67.|
|1799--||Eliza H. Dunbar ------||2 lots||61.67.|
|1800--||Henry Skipwith -------||2 lots||[torn]|
|1802--||Henry Skipwith late Dunbar||[rest of record torn]|
|1803--||Henry Skipwith----||2 lots||$ 50.00|
|1806--||Henry Skipwith ------||2 lots||$ 70.00|
|1807--||Henry Skipwith---||1 lots||$100.00|
|1809--||Henry Skipwith ------||1 lot||$100.00|
|1815--||Henry Skipwith----||1 lot||$100.00|
|1816--||Henry Skipwith Est---||1 lot||$120.00|
|1819--||Henry Skipwith Est.--||1 lot||$120.00|
|1820--||E. Izard Philadelphia||1 lot||$2700; $2500 added for buildings Devised by Elizabeth H. Skipwith to E. Izard and, formerly charged to Henry Skipwith's Estate.|
|1821--||Izard Philadelphia||1 lot||$2700; $2500|
|1822-1836||Izard Philadelphia||l lot||$2700; $2500|
|1837--||Henry Toland Philadelphia||l lot||$2700; $2500 Via James Izard of Philadelphia|
|1839--||Henry Toland Phila||1 lot||$2700 value inc bldgs; $2500 sum added to value under last assessment on account of buildings; $2800 sum added to the present value of lots including buildings $3000.|
|1840--||Henry Toland||1 lot||$3000- $2800 building|
|1841--||John Millington||1 lot||$3000- $2800 Via Henry Toland|
|1842--||John Millington||1 lot||$3000- $2800 Purchased of Henry Toland in 1841|
|1843--||John Millington||1 lot||$3000- $2800 Via Henry Toland in 1841|
|1844--||John Millington||1 lot||$3000- $2800 Via Henry Toland in 1841|
|1851--||John Millington Mississippi||1 lot||$2000- $1800|
|1857--||John Millington Tennessee||1 lot||$2900- $2400|
|1858--||John Millington Mississippi||1 lot||$2900- $2400|
|1859--||John Millington Tennessee||1 lot||$2900- $2400|
|1860--||John Millington||1 lot||$2900- $2400|
|1861--||John Millington||1 lot||$2900- $2400|
Williamsburg Personal Property Tax:
|1783||--George Wythe||14 slaves||4 horses|
|1788||--George Wythe||3 slaves|
|1792||--John Dunbar||2 slaves|
|1795||--John Dunbar Est||10 slaves||2 horses|
|1796||--John Dunbar Est||12 slaves||2 horses|
|1797||--Elizabeth H. Dunbar||11 slaves||2 horses|
|1799||--Elizabeth H. Dunbar||11 slaves||2 horses|
|1800||--Henry Skipwith||11 slaves||2 horses|
|1801||--Henry Skipwith||10 slaves||2 horses|
|1802||--Henry Skipwith||13 slaves||4 horses|
|1805||--Henry Skipwith||12 slaves||4 horses|
|1806||--Henry Skipwith||10 slaves||3 horses||1 phaeton $140|
|1 carriage $300|
|1815||--Henry Skipwith||10 slaves||3 horses||2 cattle 1 carriage|
|1 chest of Drawers 1 secretary,|
|1 Book Case, 1 side board under $100,|
|1 Wardrobe, 6 Tables, 3 Bedstead|
|2 Mahy setees, 12 Bamboo Chairs,|
|Carpet about $20 and under $50,|
|3 Calico Curtains, 2 Venetian blinds,|
|2 Portraits in oil & Pictures with|
|their frames above 14 in; 10 do in|
|gilt frames under 12 in, & Looking|
|glass of 2 and under 3 feet|
|1 Silver Coffee pot, 1 do Tea pot|
|1 Plated urn & do Candlesticks,|
|2 Cut glass Bowls, 2 do Pitcher,|
|7 do decanters|
|1818||--Henry Skipwith Est||8 slaves||2 horses||Coach $200|
|1819||--Elizabeth Skipwith||8 slaves||2 horses||Coach $250|
|1837||--Jobn Millington||3 slaves|
|1839||--John Millington||5 slaves|
|1840||--John Millington||4 slaves||1 piano||$200|
|1849||--John Millington||4 slaves||1 piano||$200|
July 22, 1801
I THE underwritten Henry Skipwith residing at Williamsburg in the county of York do hereby declare for Assurance in the Mutual Assurance Society against Fire on Buildings…, to wit:
My four buildings on Palace Street at the said place now occupied by my self situated between the Church Yard and that of a cross street leading out from Palace Street in the county of York…
|The Dwelling house||marked A at||$4,900 Dollars|
|The Kitchen||do B at||600 do|
|The Laundry & Storehs||do C at||550 do|
||do D at||250 do|
June 23, 1806
Mutual Assurance Society Policy #706 revaluation of the Buildings insured per declaration #494 as per Endorsement below
I the underwritten Henry Skipwith residing at Williamsburg in the county of York do hereby declare for Assurance in the Mutual Assurance Society against Fire on Buildings… My four Buildings on the West side of Palace Street now occupied by myself an [sic] now situated between the Lott of Robert Saunders and the Church Yard in the county of York…
|The Dwelling House||marked A at||$2900|
|The Kitchen||do B at||500 do|
|The Laundry & Storehs||do C at||450 do|
|The Lumberhouse||do D at||250 do|
June 15, 1815
Mutual Assurance Society Policy # 1525 revaluation of buildings formerly declared for assurance by Henry Skipwith per declaration #706
I the underwritten Henry Skipwith residing at Williamsburg in the county of York do hereby declare for assurance in the Mutual Assurance Society against fire… my buildings on the Palace Street now occupied by myself situated between the Church on the South and a cross street on the North in the County of York…
|The Dwelling House||marked A at||$8000|
|The Kitchen||do B at||300|
|The Laundry & store||do C at||300|
|The Lumberhouse||do D at||150|
Mutual Assurance Society Policy #5037 revaluation of Buildings declared for Assurance by Henry Skipwith as per declaration #1525
March 28, 1823
We the underwritten Robert Anderson Special Agent and Thomas Sands and Henry Guthrie Appraisers, do hereby certify, that we have viewed and revalued the buildings heretofore declared for Assurance in the Mutual Assurance Society against fire on buildings of the state of Virginia by Henry Skipwith as per his declaration for Assurance numbered 1525 That the said buildings at present owned by Mrs. Izard and Genl Izard of Pensylvania residing at Philadelphia and are occupied by Mrs. Page That they are situated on Palace and a Cross street, and adjoining the Church in Williamsburg in the county of York…
|The Dwelling House||marked A at||$3750|
|The Kitchen||do B at||250|
|The Laundry & Storehs||do C at||250|
|The Lumberhouse||do D at||150|
Mutual Assurance Society Policy #7592 revaluation of buildings declared for Assurance by George & Elizabeth C. Izard as per declaration #5037
May 30, 1830
We, the underwritten Robert Anderson Special Agent, and Thomas Sands and William M. Moody Appraisors, do hereby certify, that we have viewed and revalued the Buildings heretofore declared for Assurance in the Mutual Assurance Society against Fire on Buildings of the State of Virginia, by George Izard & Elizabeth C. Izard as per their Declaration for Assurance, numbered 5037 That the said Buildings are at present owned by the heirs of the Said Elizabeth C. Izard viz. Dr Shippen of Philadelphia and others residing at Philadelphia & elsewhere and are occupied by Mrs. Page That they are situated on Palace street in Williamsburg on the East a cross street on the North and the Church of Bruton parish on the South…
|The Dwelling House||marked A at||$3500|
|The Kitchen||do B at||250|
|The Laundry||do C at||250|
|The Lumberhouse||do D at||150|
April 24, 1839
Mutual Assurance Society Policy #11,018 revaluation declared for assurance by the heirs of George Izard as per declaration #7592
We, the underwritten Robert Anderson Special Agent, and Lucius F. Gary and Albert G. Southall Appraisers, do hereby certify, that we have viewed and revalued the Buildings heretofore declared for Assurance, in the Mutual Assurance Society against Fire… by the heirs of Izard as per their Declaration for Assurance Numbered 7592 That the said Buildings are at present owned by Henry Toland & others and are occupied by John Milligan That they are situated on Palace Street on the East, a Cross Street on the North and Bruton Parish Church South…
|The Dwelling House||marked A at||$4000|
|The Kitchen||" B at||200|
|The Laundry||" C at||100|
|The Lumberhouse||" D at||---|
Apparently the first Taliaferro to live at "Powhatan", James City County which is located about five miles from Williamsburg, was Colonel Richard Taliaferro, the father-in-law of George Wythe. Taliaferro was the son of Francis Taliaferro, the son of Robert.1 He married Elizabeth Eggleston.
It is possible that Richard Taliaferro came into legal possession of "Powhatan" via Benjamin Weldon. A notice appeared in the Virginia Gazette of September 15, 1752, signed "B. Weldon" which said: "To be SOLD A NECK of land, containing about 110 Acres, more or less, adjoining to Mrs. Hollaway's Tract, very well wooded, especially with Rail Timber, &c and bounded on one Side by James City County Road, convenient for carting Wood to Williamsburg. Any Person inclinable to purchase may know the Terms by applying to the Subscriber, in Powhatan." 2 ("in Powhatan" (sic at) refers to the plantation, "Powhatan", as Powhatan County was not formed until 1777.)
Taliaferro was justice of the peace for James City County in 1752.3
In 1768 Taliaferro paid tax in James City County on 26 tithes and quit tax on 975 acres of land and 2 chairs.4
He had two children: Richard who married Rebecca Cocke and (died 1789) and Elizabeth who married George Wythe. Richard had children: Benjamin, Ann, Mary, Lucy, Richard H., Elizabeth and Sally.5
Richard Taliaferro (will written 1775 and proved in 1779) left his Williamsburg house and lot to his daughter, Elizabeth and her husband, George Wythe, during their lifetime. If there were no heirs by this marriage the property was to descend to Richard Taliaferro, a grandson.6
Richard Taliaferro, the grandson, died in 1791. He had land in James City County and a house in Williamsburg which became his property following Mrs. Wythe's death in 1787 and Wythe's giving up his life-right.7ii
In November 1791 the Wythe House was advertised for sale by the executors of Richard Taliaferro thus: "Agreeable to the last Will and Testament of RICHARD TALIAFERRO, deceased, will be sold to the highest bidder, on Tuesday the 15th of November if fair, otherwise, the next fair day, a valuable HOUSE AND LOT in the City of Williamsburg, formerly occupied by the Hon. George Wythe, Esquire." 1
Mr. Thomas Tileston Waterman in The Mansions of Virginia 1706-1776) Chapel Hill Press 1946, pp 405-6, attributes several houses in Virginia to Richard Taliaferro (d. 1779) designing: Rosewell, Christ Church, Sabine Hall, Nomini Hall, Westover, Berkeley, Nelson House, Wilton, Wythe House, Elsing Green, Cleve and Carter's Grove. (See also: pp 103, 107, 237n, 222, 345, and 397.)iii
|Born:||1726 at "Chesterville", Elizabeth City County, Virginia.|
|Parents:||Thomas Wythe of "Chesterville", (son of Thomas who was son of Thomas) and Margaret Walker Wythe.|
|Maternal Grandparents:||George Walker of Elizabeth City County and Ann Keith, granddaughter of the Reverend George Keith (ca. 1638-1716), Quaker missionary and schoolmaster.|
|Education:||possibly at Syms Free School or Eaton Charity School; and at home by his mother who was something of a classical scholar. In 1740 attended William and Mary College, Williamsburg. In 1741-2 went to live at his uncle-in-laws, Stephen Dewey of Price George County, where he read law for about two years--then returned to "Chesterville" for a few years of independent study.|
|Life as Lawyer & Public Servant:|
|In 1746 qualified to practice in the General Courts|
|In 1747, attorney in Spotsylvania County|
|In 1747 Wythe married Ann Lewis, daughter of Zachary Lewis prominent lawyer of Spotsylvania County. She died in August 1748.|
|1748 Wythe appointed Clerk of the Committees of Privileges and Elections of the House of Burgesses.|
|1748/9 January 16th, sworn an attorney to practice in York County.|
|1754 Attorney General and Judge of the Court of Admirality.|
|1754-1756 Burgess representing Williamsburg|
|1758-1761 Burgess representing William and Mary College.|
|1761-1769 Burgess from Elizabeth City County|
|1768 Elected Mayor Williamsburg.|
|1760-1775 clerk of House of Burgesses.|
|1768 named to Board of Visitors of William and Mary College.|
|1765 opposed Stamp Tax and Act.|
|1769 one of compilers of Code of 1769|
|1772 resigned as Alderman of Williamsburg|
|1759-1765 member of Committee of Correspondence.|
|1774 member of Committee of Safety of Williamsburg.|
|1776 July Convention, Wmsbg : Wythe member of,|
|1775 Member of Congress. (and in 1776)|
|1777 Signer of Declaration of Independence.|
|1777 Speaker of House of Delegates.|
|1778 Judge of Chancery Court|
|1779 appointed professor at law at William and Mary College.|
|1789 appointed sole Chancellor of the state|
|1787 represented Virginia in Federal Convention at Philadelphia.|
|1788 Vice President Virginia State Convention.|
|1791 moved to Richmond.|
|1790 honorary degree of LL.D. conferred by William and Mary College.|
|1806 George Wythe died in Richmond; buried in St. John's Churchyard.|
"Notes for the Biography of George Wythe"
No man ever left behind him a character more venerated than George Wythe. His virtue was of the purest tint; his integrity inflexible, and his justice exact; of warm patriotism, and devoted as he was to liberty, and the natural and equal rights of man, he might truly be called the Cato of his country, without the avarice of the Roman; for a more disinterested person never lived. Temperance and regularity in all his habits, gave him general good health, and his unaffected modesty and suavity of manners endeared him to every one. He was of easy elocution, his language chaste, methodical in the arrangement of his matter, learned and logical in the use of it, and of great urbanity in debate; not quick of apprehension, but, with a little time, profound in penetration, and sound in conclusion. In his philosophy he was firm, and neither troubling nor perhaps trusting, any one with his religious creed, he left the world to the conclusion, that that religion must be good which could produce a life of such exemplary virtue... Such was George Wythe, the honor of his own, and the model of future times."(A.E. Bergh, etd., "The Writings of Thomas Jefferson (Washington, D.C. 1903) vol. I, pp169-170: "Notes for the Biograpy of George Wythe.")
"He was my antient master, my earliest and best friend, and to him I am indebted for first impressions which have had the most salutary influence on the course of my life." (Oscar L. Shewmake, The Honorable George Wythe, (Richmond: 1950) p 19.
"Wythe, above all our early statemen, was deeply learned in the law, had traced its doctrines from their fountain heads, delighted in the year-books from doomsday down; had Glanville, Bracton, Britton and Fleta bound in collects; had all the British statutes at full length, and was writing elaborate decisions every day in which, to the amazement of county court lawyers, Horace and Aulus Gellius were sometimes quoted as authorities." Ibid., pp 12 - 13.v
"Mr. Wythe's personal appearance and personal habits were plain, simple and unostentatious. His countenance was full of blandness and benevolence and I think he made, in the salutation of others, the most graceful bow I have ever witnessed."
[Clay served as Wythe's amanuensis ca. 1792 after Wythe moved to Richmond.][Source:] Kimball, Jefferson The Road to Glory. (New York: 1943) p. 74.
Speaking in 1851 Henry Clay said of Wythe:
"to no man was I more indebted, by his instructions, his advice and his example, for the little intellectual improvement which I made." [Source:] Shewmake, Oscar L., The Honorable George Wythe. (Richmond: 1950) p. 20.vi
WYTHE as described in THE TWO PARSONS by George Wythe Munford. "His stature was of the middle size. He was well-formed and proportioned; and the features of his face manly, comely and engaging. In his walk, he carried his hands behind him, holding the one in the other, which added to his thoughtful appearance. In his latter days he was very bald. The hair that remained was uncut, and worn behind, curled up in a continuous roll. His head was very round, with a high forehead; well-arched eyebrows; prominent blue eyes, showing softness and intelligence combined; a large aquiline nose; rather small but well-defined mouth; and thin whiskers, not lower than his ears. There were sharp indentations from the side of his nose down on his cheek, terminating about an inch from the corner of the mouth; and his chin was well-rounded and distinct. His face was kept smoothly shaven; his cheeks, considerable furrowed from the loss of teeth; and the crow's feet very perceptible in the corners of the eyes. His countenance was exceedingly benevolent and cheerful.
"His dress was a single-breasted black broadcloth coat, with a stiff collar turned over slightly at the top, cut in front Quaker fashion; a long vest, with large packet-flaps and straight collar, buttoned high on the breast, showing the ends of the white cravat that filled up the bosom. He wore shorts; silver knee and shoe buckles; was particularly neat in his appearance, and had a ruddy, healthy hue."
(From The Two Parsons, by George Wythe Munford, p 416. )
"Pendleton was a man of the world, and transacted business as a thing to be done; Wythe was sometimes beguiled by the mode of doing it. Pendleton, who inherited nothing, brought his mind to bear on the game of life, and amassed a large fortune; Wythe, who inherited a handsome patrimony, died poor. Pendleton was strictly, a man of talents, and regarded all knowledge merely as a means of pursuing his ends with success. Wythe was a man of genius, and loved knowledge for its own sake. To undertake the acquisition of the learned languages late in life was a heroic aim, from which Pendleton would have shrunk, unless a knowledge of them had been indispensable to the proper conduct of current business, but which Wythe embraced that he might enjoy at the fountain head those pleasures which, as they are the purest, so they are the most precious bequests of the genius of the ages that are past. Pendleton rarely read an English book beyond the range of the law in its ordinary or in its historical aspect. He had probably never seen the Fairy Queen or read a book of Paradise Lost. (Mays, David John, Edmund Pendleton 1721-1803, Vol. I., p 227 ( Harvard Press 1952) taken from Grigsby.)vii
"It would be odious to draw a comparison between these two great men, both of whom stood so high and deserved so much. Honorable rivals for public distinction during many years, they were unlike in so many respects that no fair parallel could be drawn between them. The address of Mr. Pendleton was most popular, and his manners more courtly than those of Mr. Wythe, whose fondness for study kept him much secluded from general observation and whose excessive modesty concealed much of his merit even in this respect, for the manners of Mr. Pendleton were very polished indeed and full of dignity and grace, mixing much more with the world and more conversant with men than Mr. Wythe, Mr. Pendleton always looked to consequences. He therefore rarely made an enemy, but acquired the esteem of a large circle of friends, who always sustained and supported him and whom he in a like manner upheld. While the stern integrity and unyielding firmness of Mr. Wythe's character carried him always straight to his object as soon as he was convinced it was proper, and in the pursuit of what he thought right he was heedless and utterly indifferent to the effects. Mr. Wythe would never engage in a cause he thought wrong, and would often abandon his cases when he found they had not been fully represented to him; while Mr. Pendleton, considering the subject more correctly, felt no scruple in exerting his professional powers for any client he had undertaken to represent, or in taking any cause which was presented to him." (Ibid., vol I, p 228: The Tazewell Family by Littleton Tazewell)
"Mr. Wythe's forte, as I have understood, lay in the opening of the argument of a case, in which for thorough preparation, clearness and force, no one could excel him. He was not so fortunate in reply. Mr. Pendleton, on the contrary, was always ready both in opening and concluding an argument, and was prompt to meet all the exigencies which would arise in the conduct of a cause in court. The consequence was that Mr. Pendleton was oftener successful than Mr. Wythe in their struggles at the bar. On one occasion, when Mr. Wythe, being opposed to Mr. Pendleton, lost the cause, in a moment of vexation he declared, in the presence of a friend, that he would quit the bar, go home, take orders, and enter the pulpit, You had better not do that replied his friend; for, if you do, Mr. Pendleton will go home, take orders, and enter the pulpit too, and beat you there. Mr. Pendleton was far less learned than Mr. Wythe, but he possessed more versatile talents, was an accomplished gentleman, and better adapted to success in general society and in the busy world." (Ibid , vol I. p 229 Opinion of Henry Clay-written many years after Wythe's death, as quoted in Wythe's Report (1852 edition).)viii
LETTER: George Wythe to Thomas Jefferson April 10, 1800.
"After the seventh decad of my years began i learned to write with the left hand, as you may see by this specimen and that with ease, although slowly. yet if to write were painfull, i should, before this time, have answered your letter of 28 february; but i have been endeavoring to recollect what little of parliamentary procedings i formerly knew, and find myself unable to give information on the questions which you propounded. adieu, my best friend. 10 of april, 1800." [source:] Photostat sent by Henry Flint, Dearfield., Massachusetts to the Curator's Department, Colonial Williamsburg, Incorporated, February 16, 1955.
Characters In The Convention Of The States Held At Philadelphia, May 1787.
"Mr. Wythe is the famous Professor of Law at the University of William and Mary. He is confessedly one of the most learned legal Characters of the present age. From his close attention to the study of general learning he has acquired a compleat knowledge of the dead languages and all the sciences. He is remarked for his examplary life, and universally esteemed for his good principles. No Man it is said understands the history of Government better than Mr. Wythe, nor any one who understands the fluctuation condition to which all societies are liable better than he does, yet from his too favorable opinion of Men, he is no great politician. He is a neat and pleasing Speaker, and a most correct and able Writer. Wythe is about 55 years of age." [Source]: Documents Illustrative of the Formation of the Union of the American States. Government Printing Office, Washington, 1927, p. 104.ix
"Contemplating that event which one in the second year of his sixteenth lustrum may suppose to be fast approaching at this time, the twentieth day of April, in the third year of the nineteenth centurie since the Christian epoch, when such is my health of bodie that vivere amem , and yet, such my disposition of mind, that, convinced of this truth, what supreme wisdom destinateth is best, obeam libens , I, George Wythe, of the city of Richmond, declare what is hereinafter written to be my testament, probably the last; appointing by friendly neighbor, William Duval, executor, and desiring him to accept fifty pounds for his trouble in performing that office over a commission upon his disbursements and receipts inclusive. I devise to him the houses and ground which I bought of William Nelson, and my stock in the funds, in trust, with the rents of one and interest of the other, to support my freed woman, Lydia Brodnax, and freed man, Benjamin, and freed boy, Michael Brown, during the lives of the two former, and after their deaths, in trust to the use of the said Michael Brown; and all the other estate to which I am, and shall at the time of my death be, entitled I devise to George Wythe Sweeny, the grandson of my sister.
"I, who have hereunder written my name, this nineteenth day of January, in the sixth year of the before mentioned centurie, revoke so much of the preceding device to George Wythe Sweeney, as is inconsistent with what followeth. The residuary estate devised to him is hereby charged with debts and demands. I give my books and small philosophical apparatus to Thomas Jefferson, President of the United States of America, - a legacie, considered abstractlie, perhaps not deserving a place in his museum, but estimated by my good will to him, the most valuable to him of any-thing which I have the power to bestow. My stock in the funds before mentioned hath been changed into stock in the bank of Virginia. I devise the latter to the same uses, except as to Ben, who is dead, as those to which the former was devoted. To the said Thomas Jefferson's patronage I recommend the freed boy, Michael Brown, in my testament named, for whose maintenance, education or other benefit, as the said Thomas Jefferson shall direct, I will the said bank stock, or the value thereof, if it be changed again, to be disponed.
And now, good Lord, most merciful, let penitence -
"I will that Michael Brown have no more than one-half my bank stock, and George Wythe Sweeney have the other immediatelie.
"I give to my friend, Thomas Jefferson, my silver cups and gold-headed cane, and to my friend, William Duval, my silver ladle and table and teaspoons.
"If Michael die before his full age, I give what is devised to him to George Wythe Sweeney. I give to Lydia Broadnax my fuel. This is to be part of my will, as if it were written of the parchment, inclosed with my name in two places.
"G. Wythe, (Seal)"
24th February, 1806.
"In the name of God, Amen.
"I, George Wythe, of the city of Richmond, having heretofore made my last will, on the twentieth of April, in the third year of the nineteenth century since the Christian epoch, and a codicil thereto on the nineteenth of January, in the sixth year of the Aforesaid century, and another codicil on the 24th february, 1806, do ordain and constitute the following to be a third codicil to my will; hereby revoking the said will and codicils in all the devises and legacies in them, or either of them contained, relating to, or in any manner concerning George Wythe Sweeney, the grandson of my sister; but I confirm the said will and codicils in all other parts, except as to the devise and bequest to Michael Brown, in the said will mentioned, who I am told died this morning, and therefore they are void. And I do hereby devise and bequeath all the estate which I have devised and bequeathed to the said George Wythe Sweeney, or for his use, in the said will and codicils, and all the interest and estate which I have therein devised or bequeathed in trust for or to the use of the said Michael Brown, to the brothers and sisters of the said George Wythe Sweeney, the grandchildren of my said sister, to be equally divided among them, share and share alike. In testimony whereof I have hereunto subscribed my name and affixed my seal, this first day of June, in the year 1806.
"G. WYTHE, (Seal)
"Signed, sealed, published and declared by the said George Wythe, the testator, as and for his last will and testament in our presence; and at his desire we have hereunto subscribed our names as witnesses, in his presence and in the presence of each other."xi
(The interlineations of the words, "and another codicil on the 24th of February, 1806," and the words "will and codicile" and "grand" being first made, and the whole being distinctly read to the testator before the execution of this codicil.)
"Edm. Randolph,(From published account of Will in book "The Two Parsons," published by Col. George Wythe Munford of Richmond in 1884.)
From a compilation of data on the Declaration of Independence and its Signers made by a Joint Committee of the National Society, Sons of the American Revolution and the Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence.
This copy was made in quadruplicate, one copy going to each of the above named organizations, one copy to R. C. Ballard Thruston, Chairman of the Committee, which is now in The Filson Club, Louisville, Kentucky, and one copy to the late Mr. John Calvert, the Secretary of the Committee, which has been given by his widow to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.[The above WILL OF GEORGE WYTHE and following remarks were copied from GEORGE WYTHE HOUSE Research Notes, Department of Research and Record, Colonial Williamsburg, Incorporated, September 1, 1938, pp 24-26.] xii Emmet Collection #3763
DiedAt Richmond, on the 8th instant, that venerable statesman and patriot, George Wythe, Chancellor of Virginia, supposed to be poisoned by a young man, his nephew, who resided with him- The circumstances of this horrid transaction are thus related to us by a gentleman lately from Richmond:- The young man had forged his uncle's name in drawing checks on the bank to prevent detection and at the same time to secure a considerable sum bequeathed to him in the Judge's will, he administered the fatal dose by mixing it with the coffee prepared for breakfast; no[t] only the Judge, but several of his domestics drank of the coffee, and are dead or at the point of death.- Judge Wythe fortunately survived long enough to discover the fraud of his nephew and disappoint him in his hopes of legacy.
(bronze marker with tablet was erected in 1922 in St. John's Churchyard, Richmond, over Wythe's grave)
THIS TABLET IS DEDICATEDxiv
TO MARK THE SITE WHERE LIE
THE MORTAL REMAINS OF
BORN 1726 -- DIED 1806
JURIST AND STATESMAN
TEACHER OF RANDOLPH
JEFFERSON AND MARSHALL
FIRST PROFESSOR OF LAW IN THE UNITED STATES
FIRST VIRGINIA SIGNER OF THE
DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
Erected by[the above was copied from Shewmake, Oscar L., The Honorable George Wythe, p 43.]
Patriotic Citizens of Virginia A. D. 1922
[Note:] In the October, 1955 issue of the William and Mary Quarterly there will be an article on the murder of George Wythe.xv
James Madison was born August 27, 1749 near Staunton, Virginia, son of John Madison who was a cousin of President James Madison. His mother was Agatha Strother of King George County. He entered William and Mary College, from which he graduated in 1771 with high honors. He studied under George Wythe and was admitted to the bar but did not enter upon practice.
In 1773 he was elected professor of natural philosophy and mathematics at the College of William and Mary, and in 1775 went to England for further study and for ordination to the ministry of the Church of England. Returning to Williamsburg and to his professorship, he was in 1777 elected president of William and Mary, which office he held until his death in 1812. However, in 1784 he was relieved of the teaching of mathematics but thereafter served as professor of natural and moral philosophy. During the Revolution he supported the patriot cause. He served as chaplain of the House of Delegates in 1777, was captain of a company of militia organized from among the students of the college, and saw active service on several occasions during the war.
In 1779 Madison was selected as a member of the commission to define the boundaries between Virginia and Pennsylvania, which line he determined "with great astronomical precision." Later he made the surveys from which A Map of Virginia Formed from Actual Surveys was engraved. This map was commonly known as "Madison's Map."
In 1779 he cooperated with Jefferson in effecting some changes in the organization of William and Mary. Under his leadership the college was brought to a high degree of efficiency and prosperity. One of his students, John Tyler, later president of the United States, said of him: "His manner to the inmates of the College was kind and parental, and his reproof was uttered in the gentlest tones-...; no one who attended the College during the time that he presided over it., hesitates to acknowledge him as a second father." A later biographer writes: "there was trained a body of alumni which included the flower of Virginia's youth, which moulded the destiny of the state and largely of the United States for half a century, and which for exalted character, distinguished statesmanship and commanding influence could hardly have been equalled in any institution of its day."
Madison took a prominent part in the reorganization of the Episcopal Church in Virginia after the Revolution and in the formation of the Diocese of Virginia. He was president of the first convention of the Church in 1785. Elected bishop in 1790, and consecrated in Lambeth Chapel, Canterbury, on September 19, 1790 by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishops of London and Rochester, he was the third of the three bishops through whom the episcopate of the Church of England was brought to the United States. As the first bishop of Virginia, Madison undertook a superhuman task.xvi
Madison died March 6, 1812 and was buried in the college chapel. He had married in 1779 Sarah Tate.
Colonel Henry Skipwith was the son of Sir William Skipwith (1707-1764) of Middlesex County, and a brother of Sir Peyton Skipwith. Henry Skipwith married on July 7, 1773 Ann Wayles Skelton, widow of Bathurst Skelton. His plantation in Cumberland County was known as Horsdumonde [out of the world]. Latrobe visited Horsdumonde in 1796. In his Journal he describes the place as: "No possibility of outside communication by letter or visit but by riding half a dozen miles into the world. In other respects there is a great deal of worldly beauty and convenience about it. The house is a strange building, but whoever contrived it, and from whatever planet he came, he was not a lunatic, for there is much comfort and room in it, though put together very oddly."
On December 17, 1799 Colonel Skipwith married Mrs. Elizabeth Hill Byrd Dunbar, widow of the Reverend John Dunbar of Williamsburg. She was the daughter of William Byrd III. She was born in 1754; married three times: (1) James Farley of Antigua who had come to Williamsburg as a student at William and Mary College; (2) John Dunbar and (3) Henry Skipwith. She had three lovely daughters; each married a prominent man: Elizabeth Parke married John Bannister, and then Dr. Thomas L. Shippen of Philadelphia, and lastly, General George Izard of South Carolina and Philadelphia; and Maria married Champe Carter, son of Charles Carter of "Shirley." And Rebecca married Richard Corbin of "Laneville."
Upon his marriage to Mrs. Dunbar, Colonel Skipwith moved to Williamsburg and lived in the Wythe House until his death which occurred in Powhatan County in 1815. Mrs Skipwith continued in Williamsburg until her death in 1819. She was interred in the graveyard behind the Peyton Randolph House in Williamsburg.
An obituary and eulogy of Colonel Skipwith is in manuscript in the Tucker-Coleman Collection in Colonial Williamsburg Archives. It was, doubtless, written by St. George Tucker, his neighbor and friend. It is undated:
"Died lately in the County of Powhatan, Col: Henry Skipwith , for some years past a Citizen of Williamsburg, but for many years an Inhabitant, of Cumberland County, in which he was many years a magistrate & County Lieutenant, or commending officer of the militia of that County… He was from the Commencement of the disputes with Great Britain which terminated in the Independence of his native Country, a warm, sincere, steady, & Undeviating patriot. In the year 1780, when the xviii defeat of General Gates at Camden spread a general alarm through the southern States, he, with several other Gentlemen of distinguish'd patriotism & attachment to the Cause of this Country, united under the Auspices & command of General Robert Lawson of Prince Edward, in raising a Corps of volunteers to join the Army under General Greene who succeded General Gates in the command of the [torn]my; in a very short time they assembled near 3000 Volunteers, who march'd to Petersburg, completely arm'd & equipt, & presented as fine a Body of yeomanry, in arms, ready to sacrifice their lived in defence of their Country, as have been assembled on any occasion. Col. Skipwith had the Command of one of the Regiments; Col. Everard Meade, of another; Col. Beverly Randolph, afterwards Governor of the State, of a third, and Colonel Cocke of Charlotte County of a fourth- After waiting a fortnight or more for the necessary supplies which it was expected the general Assembly then sitting would have promptly granted, they were discharg'd with a note of thanks . They return'd home- in less than a fortnight Arnold , the infamous Arnold , invaded Virginia. Their troops might have saved the disgraceful surprise of Richmond, then the Seat of Goverment, & prevented the destruction of most of the public records &c, as at Washington during the last year. They were, however, dispers'd. [A]bout six weeks after General Lawson received a Letter from General Greene, advising of [torn] retreat towards Virginia, & requesting him, if possible to make a second Attempt to join & assist him in checking the march of Lord Cornwallis to Virginia. In less than a fortnight General Lawson was again at the head of 2000. volunteers, and march'd to meet him. Colo Skipwith, Colo Randolph, Colo Cocke, & most of the other officers of the former Corps were among the number- They joined General Greene not more than three days before the Battle of Guilford, & received the thanks of the General for their Conduct on that occasion. Having followed Lord Cornwallis to Ramsay's mill, on the Haw river, where General Greene expected to have overtaken him, & given him battle a second time, they were discharg'd. In little more than a month General Greene again wrote to General Lawson requesting his Aid again, & added to his request that it would be a articular gratification to him if the same officers who serv'd under him before, would again accompany him. Many of them, xix among whom was Col. Skipwith, and Col. Randolph immediately agreed to join his standard, and General Lawson was on the point of marching, (in fact had got as far as the lower end of Charlotte County.) to join General Greene a second time, when orders were recieved to join the Amy under the Marquis de lay fayette then on the north side of James river, in the upper End of Hanover County. Those orders [were] stantly obeyed, & General Lawson with the Corps assembled under his command join'd the marquis without loss of time, & serv'd under him till the Surrender of Lord Cornwallis put an End to the Campaign. Col. Skipwith remaind with him the whole time, and was on duty in the Trenches the night that the Enemy made a Sortie, but were almost instantly driven back. His Conduct was uniformly that of an excellent Officer, a faithful Citizen, and a genuine Republican. The promptitude with which he engaged in the Service of his Country was a sufficient evidence of his Devotion to her Cause; and his Zeal & fidelity were of the same stamp. These principles he carried with him to the Grave,
[In private life Col. Skipwith was highly respected and esteem'd. If he had his foibles, they were greatly outnumbered by his virtues.]
Copy sent to the Enquirer."[Source:] Ms in Uncatalogued Papers Tucker-Coleman Collection Undated. Probably 1815, (October).
Elizabeth Hill Byrd was the daughter of William Byrd III of "Westover" and his first wife, Elizabeth Carter. She was born at "Westover" in 1754. She married three times: (1) In 1771 to James Farley of Antigua who had come to Williamsburg as a student at William and Mary College. Farley died in Gloucester County on May 16, 1777. By this marriage they had three daughters: Elizabeth Parke Farley, Maria Farley and Rebecca Parke Farley (details of their marriages to follow).
In 1774 Mr. and Mrs. Farley were, evidently, living in Williamsburg. A letter from her brother, John Byrd, to his father, from Williamsburg of date February 10, 1774 leads to this conclusion:
Williamsburg February 10, 1774.I have sent you the Servants clothes, accompanied with some Crabs, a present from Mr. Farley He has been kind enough to send out every day to get some oysters, but cant succeed, as soon as he does, you may depend upon having some . ...Tom, Betsy & Mr Farley join me in Compliments & Love...
By June, 1775 the Farleys had moved down to "Saura Town." (or the land of Eden), in North Carolina near the confluence of the Dan and Stanton Rivers. (Colonel Byrd had sold this large tract to Colonel Francis Farley of Antigua, who was James Farley's father.) Three letters from Mrs. Farley to her father in 1775 give her reaction to living in the wilderness:
... I flatter myself your affection for me, will make you desirous of knowing how I like the Saura Town. I think the situation pretty & I fancy very healthy as the hill is high & dry. We have a house begun, Mr. Farley talks of making improvements, which I cant say gives me any satisfaction as it serves to convince me he always intends living here ....
Affectionate & Dutiful Daughter
Elizabeth H. Farley."
June the 10th 1775.
October the 17th 1775.My dear & Hond Sir:
... Mr. Farley, intends to send a waggon next month to Mrs. Blairs, for some things of ours which are there;...
Your Affectionate & Dutifull Daughter,
Elizabeth H. Farley.
Mrs. Farley is mentioned in the will of her father, William Byrd III, proved February 5, 1777 in Charles City County court: "...my will also is that five hundred pounds sterling be deducted from the share of my daughter Elizabeth, having paid her husband, Mr. Farley, that sum under the unjust will of my insane Mother...
Mrs. Elizabeth Hill Byrd Farley's second husband was the Reverend John Dunbar, minister of Westover Parish, Charles City County. They acquired the Wythe House in Williamsburg in 1793 where they lived until his death ca 1795.
Mrs. Farley Dunbar married a third husband: Colonel Henry Skipwith in 1799. They continued to live in the Wythe House in Williamsburg until her death in 1819.
Mrs. Skipwith's daughters by her marriage with James Farley married thus: Elizabeth Parke married (1) John Bannister, Jr.; (2) Dr. Thomas Lee Shippen of Philadelphia and (3) General George Izard of South Carolina and Philadelphia. Maria married Champe Carter, son of Charles Carter of "Shirley" in 1796. Rebecca Parke Farley married Richard Corbin of "Laneville."
At her death Mrs. Skipwith bequeathed the Wythe House to her daughter, Elizabeth Izard (wife of George Izard).
Mrs. Skipwith was interred in the graveyard behind the Peyton Randolph House in Williamsburg. An epitaph on her stone placed there by her daughters, reads:
Sacred to the Memory of Mrs. Elizabeth Hill Skipwith, Eldest daughter of William Byrd, Esquire.xxii
Born at Williamsburg August 6, 1819.
This monument as the last tribute of duty and filial affection, is erected by her surviving daughters, E.C.I.; M.C.; and, R.P.C.
Prior to 1938 the marble slab bearing the above inscription was removed to Bruton Parish Churchyard in Williamsburg.
A portrait of Mrs. Elizabeth Hill Byrd Skipwith was at Westover. It is mentioned in the will of Mrs. Mary Willing Byrd (recorded April 20, 1814).
The will of William Byrd IV (1779) bequeathes "my Sleeve Buttons and a Breast Buckle with the Initials of our most dear Sister's Name before she was married viz. E.H.B. done with a Lock of her own Hair to my Brother Francis Otway Byrd and desire of him to keep it for her Sake."xxiii
Letter from Mrs. Lucy Tucker to Mrs. Coalter, Staunton
Williamsburg May 19, 1805."... Parke Corbin is in town on a visit to her mother, and is one of the most affectionate and sweet women of my acquaintance- infinitely more engaging than I have ever seen her..."
[Note: Parke Corbin was the daughter of Mrs. Henry Skipwith.][Source:] John Thompson Brown Papers William and Mary College
Letter from Mrs. Lucy Tucker to Mrs. Coalter, Staunton.
Williamsburg Nov. 20, 1807."... Saturday, we ate Turkey with Mrs Skipwith, ... The Corbins are still among us- Parke is not well..." [Source:] Ibid.
Letter from Mrs. Lucy Tucker to Mrs. Coalter.
Williamsburg Feb. 1809."Mrs Skipwith & the Colo lead almost the lives of Hermits, she steadily refusing all invitations to dinner or tea- indeed she seldom goes out even in the morning- Her excuse is that she is too old to go out in cold weather- …Parke Corbin has mended extremely..." [source:] Ibid.
Letter from F. B. Coalter to John C. Coalter, Greenbriar, C. H.
Williamsburg April 5, 1810Good Mrs Coll: Skipwith is extremely sick..."
Letter from F. B. Coalter, Williamsburg to John Coalter.
May 11, 1810."…Mrs Skipwith wishes you to bring her half a dozen of the smallest size of turned, wooden-bowls they originally to be had at Mr J. McDowels & such as she wants were 6d..."
Letter from Mrs. Lucy Tucker to Mrs. Coalter, Elm Grove, Staunton.
Williamsburg, October 12, 1810."…My Uncle is well, but his poor wife I think is gradually wasting by that worm of the Heart-Discontent..."
[Note: Mrs. Tucker was a niece Of Colonel Skipwith.]xxv
LETTER: Edmund Harrison to Saint George Tucker, Williamsburg.
Genito P. 0. January 4, 1819.
[Edmund Harrison married Elizabeth Skipwith, daughter of Henry Skipwith's first marriage.]
"To you as the mutual friend I beg leave to apply for your Intervention--to prevent the necessity of a Law Suit with your valued frd & my much esteemed relative Mrs Skipwith. Her late husband my Testator drew Bills of Exchange for the 2d 3d & 4th Years Annuity preceding his death amounting to £900 Stg in favor of Ellis & Higginbotham, which Bills have been protested thro' her means- & the mony due in Antigua for those years- pd to her by Lightfoot's Exr- besides this a Bill for £300 Ste for the Year preceding his death was drawn by him in favor of Mr Robt Saunders of your City, which was returned me in consequence of Mr Corbin in the name of Mrs Skipwith forbidding Mr Saunders to negotiate the same. Conceiving as I do that Colo Skipwith had a right to draw- and that the Sale of Bills drawn & sold for valuable consideration altho' not honored in Antigua, vested the Amt as Assets in his Extrs notwithstanding the Marriage Settlement (drawn I believe by you) I cannot assent to the construction of the Word Arrears in said Settlement, as made by Mrs Skipwith or rather Mr Corbin-as vesting in her all Monies unpaid at the time of his death. I know the confidence she reposes in you, & believe she will repair an Injury ignorantly committed as soon as she is made sensible of the same. I would have waited until her days were ended, & discussed this question with her representative, but the Act of limitations might bar our rights, and am content to wait her perfect convenience, upon having the right established & the amount secured by specialy. Be pleased to communicate the result of your Interference in time for me to use the Spring term." [Source:] Tucker-Coleman Uncat Ms
[Endorsed Edmund Harrison, January 4, 1819 "Wrote to him on the subject January 11th"]xxvi
Excellent sketches of Professor John Millington can be found in the following sources:
The data given below is taken from these sources.
|1779,||May 11||John Millington born at Hammersmith, suburbs of London, son of Thomas Charles Millington, attorney, and Ruth Hill|
|1805,||December||Membership in Royal Society of Arts.|
|1815,||Jan. 30||Engaged by Royal institution to give a course of lectures.|
|1817,||July 7||Elected professor of mechanics at Royal Institution held until 1829.|
|1820,||Feb. 29||Elected one of original members of the Royal Astronomical Society|
|1823,||Dec. 2||Elected fellow in the Linnean Society of London.|
|Vice-President of Mechanics' Institution|
|1827||Member of first faculty of University of London|
|1829-1830||Left England for Mexico to superintend silver mines.|
|1830||First wife dies in Mexico; several children left.|
|1831||left Mexico; traveled.|
|1832,||Dec.||Married a Miss Letts of Philadelphia.|
|1833,||Jan.||John Millington, civil engineer and machinist, Philadelphia|
|1835||Elected professor chemistry, natural philosophy and engineering at William and Mary College|
|1839||Published Elements of Civil Engineering, textbook.|
|1848,||July||Elected professor Natural Science at the University of Mississippi.|
|1851-52||sold apparatus to University|
|1853,||July 13||Resigned as professor to accept professorship chemistry and toxicology at Memphis Medical College.|
|1859-1860||Resigns professorship at Memphis|
|1860-1865||Moved to Philadelphia for duration of War.|
|1865-68||Moved to Richmond to live with his daughter until his death on July 10, 1868, at ninety years of age. Buried at Bruton Parish Churchyard, Williamsburg.|
"In memory of John Millington, M. D. Born in London, May 11, 1779. Died in Richmond, Virginia, July 10, 1868. Ninety years of an honoured and useful file on earth, closing in eternal rest.Engineer for London and Middlesex
Professor at Guy's Hospital
" " Royal Institution
" " London University
Vice Prest. Mechanics Institute
" " R. Astron. Society
Chief Engineer of Silver Mines and
Supt. of a Mint in Mexico
Professor Chemty & Nat. Philos at College of William & Mary, Va.
" " " " & Geology at University of Mississippi.
Science mourns the loss of a devoted and indefatigable disciple of most varied information and of marvellous industry, the worthy friend and associate of men like Sir. H. Davy, Brewster, Faraday, Herschel and Lord Brougham.
Affection can never forget a friend so genial, generous and true. But faith looks up in hope and rejoices at the blessed end of one whose crowning glory it was to have served the Lord Jesus."
On the fourth side of the shaft is the following inscription:
"In memory of his mother-in-law, Mrs. Elizabeth Letts. Born April 11th 1784. Died March 27, 1847. Inscribed by his wife, her daughter."
On the hydraulic ram --- Quarterly Journal of Science, I, p 211 (1816)
On Street illuminating - Ibid-. V, p 177 (1818)
On the Rappahannock Gold Mines in Virginia - Transactions of the Pennsylvania Geological Society, I, p 147 (1835)
Address on civil engineering to his students--Southern Literary Messenger, V, #9, pp 592-595 (Sept. 1839).xxviii
Peter Carr, son of Dabney Carr and Martha Jefferson Carr, was the nephew of Thomas Jefferson, Carr was a favorite of Jefferson who supervised his education. Young Carr attended William and Mary College from 1785-1790 according to the list of students (Richmond, 1941). He studied under Wythe and Madison.
President Madison at William and Mary wrote Jefferson in 1786 relative to Peter Carr's progress with Wythe and him:
Novr 25th. 1786"I conferred a few days ago with Mr. Wythe on the subject of your Nephew in Williamsburg, and had the pleasure of receiving the most favorable account of his capacity, his diligence and his disposition. He is now in the College and enjoys the advantage of Mr. Wythe's valuable patronage and instructions. Mr. Wythe assures me that he is an excellent Latin Scholar, and from the Greek classics which he has read and is reading, he must shortly merit the same character in the latter language. I have communicated to Mr. Wythe the plan of education which you wished to be pursued, and can count with perfect assurance on every attention on his part which the most zealous friendship to you and a particular affection to your Nephew can inspire." [Source:] The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Volume 10, pp 549-550 edited by Julien P. Boyd (Princeton, 1954.)
On December 13, 1786 Wythe wrote to Jefferson about Peter's progress:
"... Peter Carr attends the professors of natural and moral philosophy and mathematicks, is learning the french and spanish languages, and with me reads Aeschylus and Horace, one day, and Herodotus and Cicero's orations the next; and moreover applies to arithmetic. The pleasure, which he gives me, will be greater, if you approve of the courses, or will recommend another. I think him sensible and discreet, and in a fair way of being learned, to which one great encouragement, both of him and many others of our youth, Is the specimen of its ability which they admire in one of their countrymen in another quarter of the globe .... [Source:) Ibid., pp 592-593.xxix
On December 30, 1786 Peter Carr wrote his uncle, Jefferson:
[Source:] Ibid., p. 648.
Williamsburg Decembr. 30. 86.
"...I left grammar school in April last; In consequence of a polite and Friendly invitation given me by Mr. Wythe, to go through a course of reading with him; And as He thought it improper to begin in the middle of a course of lectures, I defer'd it untill October last which was the commencement of a new course. --Here I attend the Professors of Moral and Natural philosophy, Mathematicks and Modern languages and Mr. Wythe has invited me to attend His Lectures on Law.-With respect to Modern languages I have read French mostly, the want of a Spanish dictionary had retarded my advancement in that language.
"Mr. Bellini has prevailed on me to begin Italian as he thinks by the time you can send me a Spanish dictionary, I may be a tolerable Master of that language, also that it will greatly facilitate my progress in Spanish. I received from you last Spring a trunk of books, at same time a letter for both of which you receive my gratefull thanks.---I am now reading with Mr. Wythe the ancient history which you advised; am likewise reading the Tragedies of Aschlus, which as soon as I have finished I shall take up Aristophanes. You also advise me to read the works of Ossian, which I have done and should be more pleased with them if there were more variety..."
In August, 1787 Jefferson wrote to Peter Carr from Paris:
PARIS, August 10, 1787."DEAR PETER: I have received your two letters of December the 30th and April the 18th., and am very happy to find by them, as well as by letters from Mr. Wythe, that you have been so fortunate as to attract his notice and good will; I am sure you will find this to have been one of the most fortunate events of your life, as I have ever been sensible it was of mine. I enclose you a sketch of the sciences to which I would wish you to apply, in such order as Mr. Wythe shall advise;...Many of these are among your father's books, which you should have brought to you. As I do not recollect those of them not in his library, you must write to me for them, making out a catalogue of such as you think you shall have occasion xxx for, in eighteen months from the date of your letter, and consulting Mr. Wythe on the subject." [Source:] A. E. Bergh, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, volume VI, pp 256-257; Washington, 1903.)
John Wickham whose name will go down into history as the lawyer who defended Aaron Burr who was tried for treason in 1807, was born in 1763 at Southold, Long Island, New York, son of John and Hannah Fanning Wickham. He was sent to a military school at Arras, France, but preferred the study of law. He came to Williamsburg during the Revolution to live with an uncle, the Reverend William Fanning, an Episcopal clergyman, entered William and Mary College in 1785. Wythe was professor of Law and Police at this time. Later, Wickham practised in Williamsburg until he removed to Richmond in 1790.
He married in December, 1791 his cousin, Mary Smith Fanning, who died in February, 1799. As his second wife he married Elizabeth Seldon McClurg, daughter of Dr. James McClurg. Wickham lived on Clay Street, Richmond, near his friend, John Marshall.
Littleton Waller Tazewell in his History of the Tazewell Family states that Charles Turnbull from Petersburg attended William and Mary College and was a student of George Wythe.
Turnbull is not listed among the List of Alumni of William and Mary College (Richmond, 1941). Nothing further could be found about his association with Wythe or the College.
Tazewell in his "History of the Tazewell Family" states that John Thomson was a student of Wythe at William and Mary College.
Tyler's Virginia Biography (vol. II p 246) gives this sketch of John Thomson:
John Thomson, son of John Thomson, a merchant of Petersburg, Virginia, was born in 1777 and studied at William and Mary College. He practised law and his speeches and letters to the newspaper over the signature of Casca Gracchus and Curtius, attacking the policy of the Federalist party, in answer to John Marshall, were much applauded. He died in 1799, when not more than twenty-two. A sketch of his life was written by his friend George Hay, the lawyer, who is unbounded in praise of his eloquence and talents.
William Munford, a student at William and Mary College while Thomson was there in writing to his friend, John Coalter, in May 1792 states that
"Thomson has left William and Mary." The List of Alumni at William and Mary College (Richmond 194l)lists Thomson as being there in 1792. This list is not at all complete in data. If Thomson studied under Wythe, he must have attended College prior to September 1791 when they moved to Richmond.
While at college John Thomson delivered an oration at the July 4 celebration.xxxiii
George Izard, son of Ralph Izard of South Carolina and Alice De Lancey Izard, was born near London on October 21, 1776 while his father was residing in England. He returned to Europe from Philadelphia for a military education. He saw distinguished service during the War of 1812.
In June, 1803 Izard married Elizabeth Carter Farley, daughter of James Parke Farley (deceased) and Mrs Elizabeth Byrd Skipwith of Williamsburg. They had three sons. Following the death of Mrs. Izard's mother, she inherited the house in Williamsburg known as "The Wythe House."
General Izard was appointed by Monroe in 1825 to be the Governor of Arkansas Territory, a position which he held until his death.
Thomas Lee Shippen was the son of Dr. William Shippen Jr. of Philadelphia and Alice Lee, daughter of Thomas Lee of Stratford.
Thomas Lee Shippen was born in 1765. He married at "Nesting" Virginia on March 10, 1791, Mrs. Elizabeth Farley Bannister, widow of John Bannister, Jr. and a daughter of Elizabeth Byrd Farley Dunbar, widow, who later married Colonel Henry Skipwith.
In 1784 Thomas Lee Shippen who was in Williamsburg studying under Madison and Wythe, wrote his father of his schedule &c while there. It was while in Williamsburg that he doubtless met his future wife.
Shippen died near Charleston in 1798. He left two sons. One Dr. William Shippen married in 1817 Mary Louise Shore of Petersburg. He died in Philadelphia, in 1867.
[Note: Source for this data can be found in Edmund Jennings Lee, Lee of Virginia, pp 125-126; and in typescript copies of Thomas Shippen's letters to his father dated from Williamsburg in the Research Department]xxxiv
Mrs. Thomas Shippen married in 1803 General George Izard of South Carolina and Philadelphia. Upon the death of her mother, Mrs. Elizabeth Hill Skipwith in 1819, the Wythe house in Williamsburg was devised to Mrs. Izard.
[Source] Williamsburg Land Tax Records.
John Brown was born in Staunton, Virginia in 1757, son of the Reverend John Brown, a Presbyterian minister and Margaret Preston Brown. He entered Princeton College, joined Washington's forces and became one of the Rockbridge soldiers under Lafayette. After his military career he continued his education at William and Mary College where he studied under Wythe under the supervision of Jefferson, then Governor.
In 1782 he moved to Kentucky. Later he became senator from that state. He married Margaretta, daughter of John Mason of New York who was Lafayette's chaplain. He died in 1837.
Born April 4, 1762 in Essex County, Virginia, son of William Roane and Miss Ball. He studied law under Wythe at William and Mary College where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa Society. Served frequently in the House of Burgesses and after the Revolution was elected a judge of the General Court and a judge of the Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia. He married Anne, daughter of Patrick Henry. He died in September, 1822.
Raleigh Colston was born at Exeter Lodge, Northumberland County, Virginia, in 1749. Left an orphan at the age of fourteen, he was apprenticed to the firm of Tarpley and Thompson, merchants in Williamsburg, for four years. Upon the death of Tarpley the firm was dissolved and Colston returned to Northumberland County for eighteen months or two years. Around 1769 he returned to Williamsburg and studied xxxv law under George Wythe for three years. In 1772 he was licensed to practice law.
"RECOLLECTIONS of his family written by RALEIGH COLSTON of HONEYWOOD, Berkley County [March 1812]. Copied from leaves of his Bible how in possession of Dr. Colston" [Family notes bound between Old and New Testaments of HOLY BIBLE, London: William Collins, 1853. Lent Research Department CWI by Jones Memorial Library, Lynchburg, Virginia. Typescript, Research Department]
William Munford was born in 1775 and died in 1825, son of Colonel Robert Munford of Mecklenburg County, Virginia and Anne Beverly Munford.
William Munford in conjunction with Hening reported decisions of the Supreme Court of Appeals for 1806-1810 (four volumes). In 1811 to 1821 Munford continued as a court reporter and published Munford's Reports. Assisted by Benjamin Watkins Leigh he prepared the Code of 1819. Munford was legislator, poet and classicist as well as a court reporter. He translated the Iliad.
In April, 1791 William Munford who had been a student at William and Mary College returned after an absence of eight months to Williamsburg and began his study of law under George Wythe. He lived in Wythe's house and boarded from his table. There he remained until Wythe moved to Richmond in September, 1791. Munford went to Richmond with Wythe. Full copies of Munford's association with Wythe is given below:
Williamsburg. April 23d 1791At last, my dear Coalter, I am again in Wmsbg the old and well beloved scene of my Studies, after an absence of eight months, and very fortunately an opportunity offers of writing to one in whose Company I have spent many happy hours in it. I arrived Yesterday, and am now settled more advantageously than ever I have been hitherto, for thro' the surprizing friendship and generosity of Mr Wythe, I live in his house, and board at his table, at the same time enjoying the benefit of his instructions without paying a farthing. My esteem for this man, together with my love, increase every day, and tho' I can never make an adequate return for the favours which he bestows on me, yet I will do all I can, by scrupulously complying with his directions, and endeavoring constantly to please him. In this happy situation, tomorrow I begin the Study of Law, in which under such a Tutor I hope to make some progress;...
Yr Affe Friend
Wm Munford xxxvi [Source] William and Mary Archives
John Thompson brown Ms Papers Letter from William Munford, Williamsburg, to John Coalter, Staunton, April 23, 1791.
Williamsburg. June 12th 1791.…I love more and more and admire the character of Mr Wythe. He is not indeed without his faults, for then he would not be a man, but he certainly approaches nearer to perfection than any man I ever saw. In reality, he may be written in the number of true philosophers: not of these morose beings who are contented with dictating rigid doctrines to others without following the line chalked out by themselves, not of those grave noodles who trifle away their time in idle disputes and still more idle disquesitions, who appear to be every thing, till an occasion offers of proving they are nothing, but of that small number (in every thing the reverse of these proud ideots) who are all virtue and greatness of soul, without making a pompous display of their good qualities, who are full of learning, and yet, are so very modest as to declare that they are ignorant and this not for the sake of receiving compliments, for that depends on the manner in which they say it. But whither have I wandered? The excellence of Mr Wythe's character might be expatiated on to the distance of ten sheets... I am employed at present in making an Epitome of Blackstone (which doubtless will prove very useful and instructive) and in copying off the forms of proceedings in actions, such as Declarations &c...
Yr Affectionate Friend
William Munford. [Source]William and Mary Archives
John Thompson Brown Ms Papers Letter from William Munford, Williamsburg, to John Coalter Staunton, June 12, 1791.
Williamsburg. July 22d 1791... You cannot perfectly comprehend the divine virtues of Mr Wythe without living in his house. His heart is a receptacle of all that heaven can bestow on a human being, and his philanthropy is universal. How far it extends towards me one anecdote will suffice to shew. When I returned from the ball [at Travis home] (for I slept with Robin Carter, and breakfasted at Mr Madison's) I found a fine parcel of Apples, peaches and plums on my table. It seems the old gentleman, not knowing of my absence, had sent them up to me, as he always does a part of whatever fruit he purchases. Really, my friend, I know not how I shall ever make a return for the infinite obligations I lay under to him. Would you xxxvii believe it, that he has begun to teach Jimmy, his servant to write? Nevertheless, it is true, and is only one more example of that benignity, granted by heaven to the minds of few. Mrs Cocke, lately dead, professed a soul similar to that of Mr Wythe...
Yr Affectionate Friend
Wm Munford [Source] William and Mary College Archives John Thompson Brown Ms Papers Letter from William Munford, Williamsburg, to John Coalter, Staunton, July 22, 1791
Richmond. September 30th 1791.
My dear Coalter,
Perhaps you may be surprised at my long silence, but a great many events have happened since I wrote you last... In the first place, you must know, my friend (for this us the object which would first give rise to a question.) that Mr Wythe is settled in Richmond, and that, through his extreme goodness, I live with him there. His removal from Williamsburg, and the preparations attending it took up all our time for some days before his departure, and unfortunately for me, I was taken with the ague fever, in the midst of our packing up, so that he was obliged to leave me behind. He bade adieu to that old town, Wednesday before last, and I was not able to follow his example till day before yesterday...
Your most affectionate and faithful friend William Munford.[Source] William and Mary College Archives John Thompson Brown Ms Papers Letter from William Munford, Richmond to John Coalter Staunton September 30, 1791.
[Note: Information on William Munford given above was taken from Dictionary of America Biography]
Littleton Waller Tazewell, son of Henry Tazewell and Dorothea Waller Tazewell, was born in Williamsburg in 1774. He was grandson of Judge Benjamin Waller of Williamsburg in whose home he lived for some years prior to Judge Waller's death, as his mother died when he was three and his father, a lawyer, was frequently away from home on legal business or as a public figure. His secondary xxxviii education was pursued at Mr. Maury's school in Williamsburg located in the old Capitol. And prior to going to school at Mr. Maury's he attended a school at a Mrs. Hattons [thought to be Mrs. Sarah Hallam].
In 1786 following the death of his grandfather in May, and the removal of Mr. Maury from Williamsburg, Tazewell was placed under the guidance of Mr. Wythe. "I lived with my father but attended Mr Wythe daily; I was the youngest boy he had ever undertaken to instruct.... I attended him every morning very early, and always found him waiting for me in his study by sunrise ..."
In 1787 Tazewell went to board with Mr. Wythe who had recently lost his wife.
Littleton Waller Tazewell wrote of Wythe:
"In 1786... one day meeting Mr. Wythe in the street (Williamsburg] he immediately accosted me, and carried me to his house. There he questioned me very closely as to my situation and occupation [Tazewell had attended Mr. Maury's school until the summer of 1786 when Maury removed from town. He was idle and drifting], and examined me very closely as to my studies. He made me translate for him an ode of Horace and some lines of Homer. I did not acquit myself as well as I had formerly done (Wythe had examined young Tazewell in his grandfather's home, that of Judge Benjamin Waller, once and Mr. Waller had asked Wythe in case of his death to take charge of his grandson), but he seemed satisfied with my performance... My father [Henry Tazewell] was to him what had passed between my grandfather and himself sometime before, and what had taken place between him and myself during my father's absence, he very kindly offered to take me under his charge. My father was delighted with this unexpected overture, and the next day I was sent to attend Mr Wythe, who resided but a short distance from our house.
"Before I proceed to give further account of myself, let me make you somewhat acquainted with this great and good man, under whose tuition I passed several of the succeeding years of my life. Mr Wythe was a native of the county of Elizabeth City. I have often heard him say that he was entirely indebted to his mother for his early education. She was an extraordinary person in some respects, and having added to her other acquirements a knowledge of the Latin language, she was the sole instructress of her son in this also. He was very studious and industrious, and as he grew up, so much improved upon this good foundation his mother had laid, that he made himself in time one of the best Latin scholars in America. Long after he had attained manhood, and had been engaged extensively in the practice of the law, he determined to teach himself Greek, and he entered upon and prosecuted this task with so much zeal, that in a few years he made himself certainly the best Greek scholar I have ever seen and such he was Universally acknowledged to be. He afterwards in a like manner acquired the French language, and became deeply versed in Algebra, Mathematics and Natural Philosophy. xxxix He, therefore may very properly be considered as one of the rare examples which the world has produced of a man who, by his own unaided efforts has made himself a profound scholar.
When he came to Williamsburg and commenced the study of the law, under the direction of my grandfather Waller, who was ten years older than himself, and engaged at that time in its practice, Mr. Wythe, by his unwearied industry soon acquired a very extensive knowledge of this science in all its branches, and obtaining a license returned to his native county where he commenced the practice of the law about the year 1748. He was then elected a member of the House of Burgesses, and continued to represent the county of Elizabeth City in that body for many years.
Very soon after he commenced the practice of the law, he acquired so much distinction in his profession that he relinquished it in the inferior courts and took his stand at the bar of the General Court, where all the eminent Counsellors of Virginia were then collected. At this bar his indefatigable industry, extensive knowledge and profound research, soon acquired for him very high and well merited distinction, and he ascended to its highest rank, in which he found no other equal competitors than the late-venerated Edmund Pendleton, who was his senior by some years. [contrasts Wythe and Pendleton in character and professionally] ...
… Amongst many singularities in Mr Wythes character, all of which were results of his pure philanthropy, the most remarkable was his passion (for it really deserved that name) in the instructing and aiding of the education of youth. ... Mr Jefferson was greatly indebted to him for the aid he rendered in improving and forming his mind; and there was no period in his life, I believe, after he had attained to manhood, during which he did not superintend the education of several young men.
For this he would receive no compensation, and could expect no satisfaction but that springing from the consciousness of performing a good action. Wherever he saw a youth of any promise, who had made some progress in his studies, he was desirous to have him, to the end that he might stimulate to greatest exertion and enable him to reach a higher eminence, that without his aid such a one would ever rise. This disposition will explain the conversation he had with my grandfather in the year 1785, which I have formerly stated. Let me now return to my story.
In the autumn of 1786 1 was placed as I have stated under the guidance of Mr Wythe. I lived with my father but attended Mr Wythe daily; I was the youngest boy he had ever undertaken to instruct, and had no companion in my studies with xl him at that time. His mode of Instruction was singular, and as everything connected with the life and opinions of this great and good man must be interesting I will here describe it:
I attended him every morning very early, and always found him waiting for me in his study by sunrise. When I entered the room he immediately took from his well stored library some Greek book... This was opened at random and I was bid to recite the first passage that caught his eye .... This exercise continued until breakfast time when I left him and returned home. I returned again about noon and always found him in his study as before. We then took some Latin author and continued our latin studies in the manner I have above described as to the Greek until about two o'clock when I again went home. In the afternoon I again came back about four o'clock and we amused ourselves until dark in working Algebraic equations or demonstrating Mathematical problems. Our Text books in both cases were in the French language, to which resort was had that I might perfect myself in this language also while I was advancing in the studies whose subjects were so common.
These evening occupations were occasionally varied by employing me in reading to him detached parts of the best English authors, either in verse or prose; and sometimes the periodical publications of the day...
In the mode I have just described passed away the first year I studied with Mr Wythe. In the autumn of the next year 1787, my father having purchased Kingsmill and being about to remove there, and Mr Wythe having lost his wife about this time, he proposed to my father that I should board with him. This proposition was readily assented to be my father, and upon his removal from Williamsburg I became an inmate of Mr Wythe's house. My course of study was the same as before, but now having the free use of his library at all times, and knowing generally what would be the subjects of our exercises the following day, I was enabled to prepare myself better than I had done before, and when I was disappointed in this calculation, I rarely found any difficulty in playing off upon him some little stratagem or other by means of which the authors and passages I had already examined the preceding day became the selected books for our next days reading .... About this time Mr Wythe imported a very complete electrical machine together with a fine air pump and several other philosophical apparatus. And when this arrived most of our leisure moments were employed in making philosophical experiments, and ascertaining the causes of the effects produced. Several other young gentlemen were also taken by him as boarders, from whose society I likewise derived some information. So this year passed away with me more profitably than even the preceding.
Early in the year 1789 the reorganization of the Courts which had then recently been effected by imposing upon Mr Wythe exclusively the whole duty of the Chancery Court, made it necessary for him to remove xli to Richmond where his court was held. He therefore broke up his establishment in Williamsburg and moved to Richmond where he continued to reside until his death.[source] An Account and History of the Tazewell Family Written by my Grandfather and Copied from his Manuscript. [Photostat William and Mary College Archives. Use restricted.]
In 1790 Tazewell entered William and Mary College where he remained until August 1792 when he received his diploma.
[A resume of Tazewell's life from this point until his death can be read in Dictionary of American Biography) pp 355-357.]
Jacob Walker was the twelfth child of George Walker who died in 1779 in Brunswick County. He was the grandson of Jacob Walker of Elizabeth City County whose sister, Margaret was the mother of George Wythe. Wythe refers in a letter dated December 12, 1772 to John Norton & Sons, London, to the fact that "Jacob Walker a youth of great hopes, who lives with me..."
[See: Body of report for letter]
William Short was born at "Spring Garden", Surry county, Virginia, on September 30, 1759, son of William Short, planter of means, and Elizabeth Skipwith, daughter of Sir Peyton Skipwith. He was educated at William and Mary College and was an original member of the Phi Beta Kappa fraternity, and its president from December, 1778 until its suspension in 1781.
According to John Dos Passos' statement in The Head and Heart of Thomas Jefferson (New York, 1954), Short "managed to graduate with honors under Wythe and the Reverend Madison from William and Mary, just before the British invasion." The list of Alumni of William and Mary College indicates that Short attended the college from 1777-1781. As Wythe took the chair of law there in 1779, it is probable that Short was one of his students. (This is the only source that Short studied under Wythe which the writer could locate.)
Short was a great friend of Jefferson. In 1784 he accompanied him as secretary of legation to France. Later he was made charge d'affaires there. In 1794 he became minister to The Hague. He died in Philadelphia in 1849.
Richard Randolph was the son of John Randolph of "Matoaka", Prince George county, Virginia, and Frances Bland Randolph. After the death of Mr. Randolph, his wife married St. George Tucker of Williamsburg. Thus, Tucker was father-in-law of Richard Randolph.
In February 1787 a letter from William Nelson, Williamsburg, to St. George Tucker at "Matoaka" discloses interesting information as to Richard's school life in Williamsburg, under Wythe's advice and instruction:
Wmsburg Feby 2d 1787 .... [refers to legal advice which Nelson had gained from conversation with Wythe]... In the course of the conversation, he [Wythe] said, that he thought Richard might be benefitted, not by his instruction, but by pursuing a plan of study more closely and regularly with him than he wd otherwise do, & that, if he continued at College as long as he wished him to do, he might be useful to himself and an ornament to the College, but he never wished to see young men there who meant to stay but two years,-- xliii at least unless they had made a considerable progress before-- He said too, that, since Richard had attended the classes at College, he had not paid so much attention to the books, which he reads with him as before, but, added he perhaps He is better employed, "& seemed convinced that it was for want of time- ... As to his not answering your letter, I believe he is less pleased with compliments than most other men, & seldom answers those which contain them... [Source:] Tucker-Coleman Collection uncatalogued manuscripts Colonial Williamsburg, Incorporated.
Consult the following sources for data on Jefferson:
Dictionary of American Biography, XIII, (1933).
Dictionary of American Biography, XIII, (1933).
|Majr Richd Talliaferro||Dr|
|S S D|
|Decr||23||To a Coat strapp & a throat latch for a Bridle||1|
|July||27||To a Double girth 1/6 a thong 1/3 a crupper 1/3||4. -|
|Novr||9||To a padd 4/ a Compas plate 1/6 a girth 1/3||7. 9|
|26||a padd, 4 girth strapps & mending the head of yr Jones Saddle||- . 6. -|
|May||1||To a Thong||1. 3|
|Sept||10||To a Saddle for self, 1 Do for yr|
|Nov||16||A tuffnail to a Saddle||.7 ½|
|£ 5.16.7 ½|
|By 35 bushels of Wheat a 3/||5. 5. -|
|Novr||23||By 166 lb of Beef|
|Mch||By 100 lb Do|
|Dec||By 92 do "'|
|Jan||By 89 Do "'|
|July||By 116 "'|
|May||By the harness charged to Chas Taliaferro||4. 6. -|
|Geo: Wythe Esqr|
|Jany||14||To Covering a Globe||- . 7. -|
|A Snaffle Bridle||- . 3. 6|
|May||13||A Body belt||- . 4. 6|
|June||18||a Saddle Cloth||- . 6. 6|
|Octo||18||a head Stall of a halter & a martingale||- . 4. -|
|a sureingale||- . 2. 6|
|Watering Chains to a Martingale & eye to a whip||- . 2. -|
|- . 1. -|
|[torn]||of a halter, & 2 Chairs||- . 4. -|
|nt Bridle||- .10. -|
|a whip||- . 1. -|
|for a thong||- . 1. -|
|£ 2.17. -|
|Dr Brot Over|
|Decr||20||To 1 Bridle with c|
|Jany||17||To a Saddle & c|
|To a [torn]|
|May||28||By Cash||£ 2.17. -|
|Mr George Wythe|
|Sept||12||To 2 Web halters||- . 5. -|
|December 31, 1751|
|Cash Dr To Majr Richard Talliaferro||- .15. -|
|February 14, 1752|
|George Wythe Dr To Stationary|
|For two Papers of Ink Powder 3||- . 1. 3|
|February 19, 1752|
|George Wythe Dr To Binding|
|For a Leger 5||- . 1. 5|
|February 26, 1752|
|George Wythe Dr To Stationary|
|For 25 quills 3||- . 1. 3|
|May 9, 1752|
|George Wythe Dr To An Alphabet||- . 1. 6|
|Feb 14, 1764|
|George Wythe pr Note|
|1 Nelson's Festivals||[£] - .12. 6|
|July 12, 1764|
|George Wythe pr Note|
|12 Packs Cards||- .15. -|
|November 21, 1764|
|George Wythe pr Mrs Drummond|
|1 Interleaved Almanack||- . 1. 3|
|January 9, 1765|
|George Wythe pr Ben|
|1 Doz Packs best Harry Cards||- . 1. 5|
|February 12, 1765|
|George Wythe pr Jacob|
|6 Packs best Harry Cards||- . 7. 6|
|May 29, 1765|
|George Wythe pr Charles Pelham|
|1 quire Paper||-. 1. 6|
|George Wythe Esqr||Dr|
|1784||7||To 4 ½ bushels of lime at 1/ & repairing underpinnings to stable & do steps 6/ & labour 1/3||£ - .11. 9|
|Febru:||11||To 6 bushels of lime a 1/ & 270 bricks a 3/ pr Cent||- .13.10 ½|
|To 1 ½ days labour a 2/6 & setting up a Grate 7/6||- . 2. 4|
|£ 1.18. 4 ½|
|medical visits to Mrs. Wythe, William Taliaferro, "cook," "Miss N" [Nancy Taliaferro who lived with the Wythes], slaves (Hannah, Dinah, Lydia, Charles, Betty, and Fanny.)|
|medical visits - "bleeding Mrs Wythe." In July and August the doctors made many visits to see Mrs. Wythe.|
|In 1788 they visited Lydia and Jamie [slaves].|
|Mr Dunbar's Estate|
[1815 November to May 1819]
|April 26 visit & consultation with Dr. Waller|
|May 25 visit & consultation with Dr. Waller|
|£ 4.16. 6|
|1819, June 1||Cr|
|amt of account paid by D. Randolph to Wm. T. Galt||£ 4.16. 6|
|£ 4.16. 6|
|1754||A Globe||(Mss Account Book of Alexander Craig, Williamsburg Harness maker: January 1754, CWI)|
|1755||Aelolipyle||"a receiver and wood cup for shower of Mercury to be had of Naime and Blunt mr Shermer will be so good as [to] procure for G. Wythe."|
|(Hemphill's "George Wythe ..." p 82 taken from Mss of George Wythe, July 10, 1755, Roberts Autograph Collection, Haverford College Library)|
|1754-8||bridles, surcingles, whips &c.||(Mss Acct. Book Alexander Craig, CWI)|
|1768||Shoes, lawn, cambric, satin cloak,
black silk stockings for Wythe,
cotton stockings, dark tie wig,
balloting glasses, balls, apparatus,
velvet breeches, light cloth suit
for summer, silk waistcoat, silk breeches,
black Russells coat for Mrs. Wythe,
fine pocket handkerchiefs, Printed Journals House of Commons (1766)
handsome large inkstand fit for public office, 100 sking writing
parchment, treatise on money-matters:
Of Civil Oeconomy and Theocritue
bonnet for Mrs. Wythe
copper plate of arms of Virginia
engraved thereon ink horn
|(Mss Papers of John Norton & Son, CWI.)|
|1769||Debates of the Parliament of Ireland||(Mss Papers of John Norton & Son, CWI.)|
|Journals House of Commons since 1766|
|Razors pen knives man's saddle, bridle, housing|
Shorver's Cases in Parliament
|(Mss Papers of John Norton & Son, CWI)|
|brown dress bob wig
grisell tie wig
curls for Mrs. Wythe
|(Mss Acct. Book of Alexander Craig, CWI)|
|1772|| Theophilus (in Greek or Latin: 2 vols, Reitz 1751)
|(Mss Papers of John Norton & Son, CWI)|
Common Prayer Book (in Greek)
robe "such as worn by clerk of House of Commons"
telescope & stand mathematical instruments
|(Mss Papers of John Norton & Son, CWI)|
|1776-83||Acts of General Assembly||(Virginia State Library has these with Wythe's signature on fly leaf)|
|Acts of Assembly (1777)||(Virginia State Library has this with Richard Taliaferro's signature on fly leaf)|
|1786||Taliaferro Genealogical notes
Taliaferro Coat of Arms
Wythe Book Plate
|(Boyd's, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson Vol. IX, p 165)|
|Jefferson's Notes on Virginia||(copy of 1782 edition with inscription: "The Gift of the Honble George Wythe To Upton Beall May 10th l788." This copy is in Research Library, CWI)|
|[no date]||Odes of Anacreon Sappho and Alcaous (1757 ed)||(owned by E. Randolph who stated that it was once in Wythe's library. See: Virginia Historical Magazine, XLIII, p 131)|
|An Etymological Praxis||(Mss volume (quarto) in Wythe's handwriting; presented to the Virginia Historical Society in 1834 by John Page. See: Virginia Colonial Decisions I, p 180)|
|Gold-headed cane||(bequeathed to Jefferson by Wythe)|
|Silver Watch with key (coat of Arms on side)
Profile Miniature of Wythe
|1758||2 chairs (conveyance)||(Mss Account Book of Alexander Craig, CWI)|
|1768||Irish linen, huckaback,
damask table cloths
elegant table & tea china
matching bowls of different sizes
decanters, drinking glasses
middlesized & lesser dishes
3 dozen plates hard metal
blanketing (house & servants)
|(Mss Papers John Norton & Son, CWI)|
|large turkey carpet
12 yards dowlas
hair broom, bottle brush,
Irish linen for shirts
|(Mss Papers John Norton & Son, CWI)|
|1771||tea china set
3 dozen wine glasses
1 dozen beer glasses
4 wine decanters
|(Mss Papers John Norton & Son, CWI)|
|1772||Madeira wine (2 pipes)|
|[no date]||dining room mahogany table
silver creamer and sugar
2 silver goblets
silver table spoons
silver tea spoons
|(At "Monticello", Jefferson's home, on display now are several pieces of silver which were gifts from Wythe to Jefferson. The dining room table is also there as a gift from Wythe)|
|1815||chest of drawers, beds, settees,
secretary, bamboo chairs, carpet,
bookcase, calico curtains, Venetian blinds,
sideboard, 2 portraits in oil,
pictures in gilt frames,
wardrobe, looking glass, silver
coffee pot, tea pot, urn, tables, candlesticks,
cut glass bowls, pitchers, cut glass,
cut glass decanters,
|(Personal property listed by Henry Skipwith who lived in the Wythe House)|
From an engraving by J. B. LongacreFrom Shewmake, The Honorable George Wythe (1921) ii
Photograph - Wythe House
From collection of R. A. Lancaster, Jr.
Negative made in about 1838
By R. A. L., Jr.
Source: Probably from "Art Book of Norfolk and Vicninty" 1895iv
Photocopy of Watercolor - Washington's Headquarters in Williamsburg
Perry, Shaw & Hepburn, Boston
Washington's Headquarters in Williamsburg
Water Color by Dwight Williams
Photograph - George Wythe House, Williamsburg, VA.vi
Photograph - Staircase
The Wythe House 1926-1938
(used as Bruton Parish House)
Courtesy of the Virginia State Chamber of Commerce
Collection Williamsburg, Virginia Prints.
The Athenaeum, Boston, Massachusetts.
Photostat, February 5, 1931.
Copy in Research Department.
WASHINGTON'S HEADQUARTERS IN WILLIAMSBURG, VIRGINIA:
Water color by Dwight Williams in 1892.
Original 10 ¼ by 13 ¾ inches.
Perry, Shaw & Hepburn, Boston.
Copy in Research Department.
RESIDENCE OF CHANCELLOR GEORGE WYTHE IN WILLIAMSBURG:
Catalogue of the College of William and Mary (1895-1896).
Probably from "Art Book of Norfolk and Vicinity" (1895).
Copy in Research Department.
From Collection of R. A. Lancaster, Jr.
Negative made ca 1888.
Copy in Research Department.
Copy in Research Department.
Frank Leslie Illustrated News for 1881 and 1887.
Filed in large map & photostat file under "Williamsburg Views."
RESIDENCE OF GEORGE WYTHE, Williamsburg, Va.:
Collection of Williamsburg Prints.
The Athenaeum, Boston, Massachusetts.
Photostat, February 5, 1931.
Copy in Research Department.
WYTHE HOUSE~ Williamsburg, Va.:
09085 Architectural Photographs,
Copy in Research Department.
#45 Architectural Photographs
Copy in Research Department.
#15 by D. N. D. (1928).
Copy in Research Department.
Portrait in oil by J. F. Wear now in Independence Hall, Philadelphia, among the portraits of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence. A copy hangs in the hallway leading to the Court Room of the Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia, in Richmond.
A likeness first described as having been "engraved by J. B. Longacre for The Gleaner." This is the most familiar likeness of the great Chancellor and depicts him as he appeared when well advanced in years. An excellent copy is found opposite the first page of Sanderson's Biography of George Wythe, in the Biography of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, and another appears opposite page 368 of the first volume of Beveridge's Life of John Marshall.ix
Portrait in oil, artist unknown. Copy presented to William and Mary College where it now hangs in the Marshall-Wythe Building. Presented by the Virginia Bar Association, 1895.
Silhouette, or profile, made in Richmond, in 1804, by William Bache. Copy opposite page 64 in Shades of our Ancestors by Alice Van Leer Carrick. (Boston. 1928).
[Sources above taken from Shewmake's Honorable George Wythe (Richmond, 1950 p. 31.]
"NOTE: The portrait of George Wythe by Trumbell appears in the extreme left hand corner of the painting "THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE," which has been reproduced at Independence Hall, Philadelphia, and in the Rotunda of the Capitol at Washington. The original of this canvas.. 20" x 30", is in the Trumbull Gallery at Yale. Concerning this painting, John Hill Morgan in his THE PAINTINGS OF JOHN TRUMBULL AT YALE UNIVERSITY, stated (p. 39):
'No. 9- The Declaration of Independence…Composed and commenced by Trumbull in the studio of Benjamin West, London, 1786. On canvas 20 x 30 inches… The portraits were painted directly into the canvas from life between 1789 and 1794, as Trumbull returned to New York to the reassembling of the 1st Congress there in December of 1789 for that purpose. He is said also to have carried the canvas about the country with him to take advantage of any occasion which might offer. Possibly a few were done from pencil portraits, as at the Silliman sale were dispersed portrait sketches of George Wythe, drawn at Williamsburg April 25, 1791 (No. 51); Samuel Chase (No. 59); and John Hancock…November. 25, 1790. Trumbell has given us the dates of painting in some of the portraits.'"x
In December Duval wrote Jefferson:
Richmond Decemr 10th 1806
... The original (sic] profile of our Friend Mr George Wythe set in a plain neat Frame is this day delivered to Mr George Jefferson to be conveyed to to (sic] Washington for you Sir--
I received the other profile of our good and Virtuous friend with the two folio fee Books which were packed up thro' mistake for which I return you my thanks-(Transcript of photostat at William and Mary College)
After Wythe's will was probated in 1806 William Duval, his friend and executor, wrote Jefferson:
Richmond July 12th 1806
A Catalogue of the Books, the small Phylosophical Apparatus, with the two Cups & Gold headed Cane, also Mr Wythe's portrait are delivered to the Care of Mr Geo Jefferson- The Terrestrial Globe is missing. It is apprehended G. W. S. [George Wythe Sweeny] sold it- He sent last Year several Books belonging to Mr Wythe to Vendue. Have you the profile of Mr Wythe in miniature? If you have not I can furnish you with one- I have not sold Mr Wythe's Watch, it was appraised to $20- It is an old silver Watch. Mr Wythe told me it kept good Time- The Seal & Key I suppose Cost about $12. The Stone is,a white Crystal found in Virginia. It has engraved, the Initial Letters of his Name, under which, are some Greek Characters, on the other side is his Coat of Arms- I did not know but the Seal might attract your Attention(Transcript of photostat at William and Mary College)
In November 1806 Duvall again wrote Jefferson:
(Transcript of photostat at William and Mary College) i
Richmond November 21st 1806
I have a profile of the venerable George Wythe taken by Mr Bache in 1804 by an Instrument he calls by the name of his patent Physiognotrace which profile much resembles that great & good Man, & Mr E Deaney I have written to, who is a man of some eminence as a portrait Limner to take a Copy thereof-- Both of which I will leave with Mr George Jefferson, that you may take either of them--The profile you have, will shew his appearance at that period of his Life, & the one I have, will exhibit a strong likeness a few Years before his untimely Death-
...The portrait of Mr Wythe which you desired was inventoried and accounted for at the appraised value
If you prefered the Original Lyddia would be contented with a profile Copy...
Genealogical notes on Taliaferro family of "Powhatan," James City County, Virginia (Compiled from data found in James City County records, folder #2, William and Mary College: Book: "Court of Appeals of Virginia, Richmond: Taliaferro's Ex'ors vs Wilkinson, and Ambler's Adm'or vs Same" (1924)
Colonel Richard Taliaferro's will was recorded December 14, 1789. Copy on p. 120 of above citation. He had a granddaughter, Elizabeth Wythe Nelson, mentioned. Richard Taliaferro Jr's will was recorded March 12, 1792. Copy on p. 242. Benjamin Taliaferro's will recorded October 5, 1801. Copy on page 58. Benjamin Taliaferro lived at "Spratley's," James City County, at the time of his death. He married Sophia, daughter of Judge henry Tazewell. Littleton Tazewell was executor of William Wilkinson's will recorded December 8, 1800.[Source:] Copy in folder #2 pp. 48-49. ii iii
Re: Taliaferro Coat of Arms
[Letter from George Wythe to Thomas Jefferson, Paris]
10. Jan. 1786. Williamsburgh
"…I wish to get the arms of Taliaferro, which from information, I believe to have been a tuscan family, engraven on a copperplate, with this motto [Ογ ΔΟΚΕΙΝ ΑΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΛΛ ΕΙΝΑΙ] and the name Richard Taliaferro. But I would not have this done, if it can not be without giving you trouble, nor unless you will order to whom here I shall repay the cost. Perhaps the motto, taken from Aeshylus ([ΕΠΤα ΕΠι ΘηΒαις] six. 598) would be sufficient without [αριςος]. If you think so, leave out that word. Adieu."[Source:] Julian Boyd's The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, IX, p. 165 (Princeton, 1954).
[Letter from Jefferson to Wythe]
Paris Aug. 13. 1786."… Immediately on the receipt of your letter, I wrote to a correspondent at Florance to enquire after the family of Tagliaferro as you desired. I received his answer two days ago, a copy of which I now inclose. The original shall be sent by some other occasion. I will have the copper plate immediately engraved. This may be ready within a few days, but the probability is that I shall be long getting an opportunity of sending it to you as these rarely occur. You do not mention the size of the plate but, presuming it is intended for labels for the inside of books, I shall have it made of a proper size for that. I shall omit the word according to the license you allow me, because I think the beauty of the motto is to condense much matter in a few words as possible. The word omitted will be supplied by every reader." [Source:] Ibid. X, pp. 243-244.
[enclosure: Tr. Of Giovanni Fabbroni to TJ, 20 July 1786.]
Mr. R.T.: Richard Taliaferro. I WILL HAVE THE COPPER PLATE IMMEDIATELY ENGRAVED: On 25 Oct. 1786 Short wrote to William Nelson: "This will be delivered to you by Major Martin of Williamsburg. He has been in Paris a few days and leaves it immediately to return to America by the way of London. Mr. Jefferson sends by him also the Arms of the Family of Tagliaferro as received from Italy"
[DLC: Short Papers;]
"The original copperplate of the Taliaferro arms is owned by Colonial Williamsburg, Inc., and is in the Wythe House, Williamsburg."
I, Richard Taliaferro, of the county of James City, do make, ordain, publish and declare, my last will and testament, in manner and form following, that is to say:
Item. I hereby devise and direct, that my executors hereinafter named , or the survivor of them, or the heirs of such survivors, shall sell my house and lot of land in the city of Williamsburg, and now in the occupation of the hon. George Wythe, esquire, upon years credit, the purchaser giving bond with good security for the payment of the purchase money; and that the money arising from such sale, shall be equally divided amongst all my brothers and sisters: Benjamin Taliaferro, Robert Hartwell Taliaferro, Elizabeth Call, Ann Nicholas, Sarah Taliaferro, Lucy Taliaferro and Mary Nelson Taliaferro, and my niece, Elizabeth Wythe Nelson, and their assigns forever.
Item. I hereby constitute and appoint William Wilkinson, junior, of the county of James City, and my uncle Richard Cocke of the county of Surry, executors of this my last will and testament, hereby revoking all former wills and testaments whatsoever° In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal, this day of , in the year of our Lord,
RICH'D TALIAFERRO [Seal]
[Recorded in James City Court March 12, 1792][Source:] William and Mary College Archives Southall Mss Papers: James City county, folder 2. Court of Appeals of Virginia (bound copy): Taliaferro's Exo'r vs Wilkinson pp 242-243
20th Jany 1793. I give, devise & bequeath unto my beloved wife, Eliza Hill Dunbar and to her heirs forever all my Estate both real & personal of what nature whatsoever the same maybe, to her sole use & benefit forever.
And for as much as the title deed to the House & Lots is (illegible] which I lately purchased of Bishop Madison, are not yet completed in such a manner, as I am advised may be proper to require that they should be &c I do hereby authorize, require & request my friends St Geo Tucker & Benja Harrison or either of them, to demand and require of the said Bishop Madison full & ample deed for the purpose of conveying the sd House Lots &c to them in fee simple , for the use of my said wife, her heirs & assigns, in as full & ample manner as she might or would have been entitled to the same under this my will, had such conveyances been hereto fore [illegible] to me.
20 March 1801. James Madison & wife- To St George Tucker. Deed of feofment for the House & Lot pursuant to the above will. To Have & to hold him the said St Geo. Tucker his heirs & assigns forever, to the sole use & in (illegible) for the sole benefit & behoof of her the said Eliza Hill Skipwith her heirs & assigns forever, according to the true intent & meaning of the will of the said John Dunbar &c &c.
27 March 1801. Henry Skipwith and Elizabeth Hill, his wife To James Henderson-. Deed of Bargain & Sale for House & Lot above mentioned in fee simple .
30 March 1801 James Henderson. To Henry Skipwith & Elizabeth Hill, his wife In Consideration of £500 to him in hand paid by the said Henry Skipwith & Eliza Hill his wife. To Have and to Hold to the said Henry Skipwith & Eliza his wife during their joint lives, and to the longest liver of the two & the heirs of the longest liver forever.[Source:]William and Mary Archives George W. Southall Papers. legal estates, folder 2. James City County records.
Two pieces including extract of will.
Letter: George W. Southall, Williamsburg, to John Millington, Williamsburg.
[Williamsburg July 1, 1840]
I have carefully examined the question submitted by Mr Millington touching the claim asserted by the Mutual Assurance Society, for arrear of quotas of insurance on the buildings lately purchased by him of Mr Toland. At the time of making the original declaration of assurance (July 1801) Mr Henry Skipwith was the fee simple owner of the property, by virtue of the will of Mr Dunbar, and a conveyance from himself & Mrs Skipwith to Mr Henderson, and reconveyance from Henderson to Skipwith- So far as I have been enabled to judge, the insurance appears to have been duly and regularly perfected, in the year of 1801, and revaluations were made in the years 1823, 1830, and 1839, but without any declaration by the proprietors in either instance.
Whilst I am of opinion that the property was legally insured, and therefore bound by the law, & the rules & regulations of the Society, for the premiums and quotas declared from time to time, yet I have very great doubts whether they can all now be recovered. The quotas now claimed commence in 1815- After the lapse of twenty years , they would be presumed to be paid- This would apply to the quotas from 1815 to 1820. In that case it does not appear whether there had been any regulation, and if any, whether it was based upon a declaration of assurance . I presume, however, there had been the regular revaluations required by the rules of the society, and that those revaluations were based upon the declaration of the owner- If so, the decision in that case might not be considered as authority in this; as in this case, there was no declaration of assurance since 1815- The quotas subsequent to the several revaluations are based upon these revaluations respectively, I conceive, and as they are not sealed instruments , nor based upon any sealed declaration made at the time of revaluation I am inclined to think the Act would apply. If this opinion be correct the society can only recover the quotas for five years back.iv
I am, however, by no means confident that such would be the decision of the Courts; for the Court of Appeals seems to have leaned very much in favour of the society, in the few cases that have before that tribunal-
I could not, therefore, give Mr Millington any positive assurance of success, in contesting the claim of the Society; but I think it highly probable, that he could defeat the recovery of the quotas from 1815 to 1820, and very doubtful whether the society could recover for more than five years back. Mr Millington can decide for himself whether he will incur the risk of the additional expense of a suit, in order to test the matter, or submit to the claim without further contest.
I would mention that by the rules of the Society, I believe they are entitled to 7 ½ per Cent damages, upon the principal & Interest of quotas in arrear, in the Event of a suit. Under any circumstances, Mr Millington should be allowed for the damages sustained by the property from fires, since the insurance was effected…l[Source:] Ms Papers of George W. Southall William and Mary College Archives Legal Cases and Estates James City County Folder 138.
The Wythe House was bought May, 1926, by Bruton Parish Church from Miss Mary Sherwell who with her sister lived in the Wythe House before moving to Norfolk. The property was deeded to the Marshall Foundation, a corporation of Bruton Parish Church, created to enable the church to hold realm estate in excess of the amount of real estate which the trustees of the church were allowed to hold under the state law.
On November 11, 1926, after the purchase of the Wythe House, as above set forth, by and for Bruton Parish Church, Chapter III of the Colonial Dames of America by a resolution adopted agreed to assume the responsibility of paying to Bruton Parish Church the sum of $15,000, being the purchase price of the George Wythe House. Chapter III actually paid the sum of $9,345.78 but declined to renew the note for the unpaid balance of $5,654.22 after having learned of the proposed transfer of the Wythe House property to the Restoration. This balance of $5,654.22 was subsequently contributed to Bruton Parish Church by Mrs. John Rutherfoord of Washington, D.D., and New Rochelle, New York; it being understood that this contribution was made to Bruton Parish directly and personally and not through Chapter III of the Colonial Dames of America.
Having acquired this property, the rector of Bruton proceeded to raise the funds necessary for the restoration and furnishing of the house. Many items and articles of furniture were contributed by individuals interested:
The restoration of the house was finished and the building formally opened on May 11, 1927.
With reference to the restoration of the house, the following points are noted:
[Source:] George Wythe House Notes
Department of Research and Record
Colonial Williamsburg, Incorporated
September 1, 1938.
[This is not a complete index to report; it is merely a name index of those associated with Wythe and other owners of the house, activities of Wythe, furnishings of the house, and other details about the house.]
1. William and Mary Quarterly. series 1. vol, 20, p 269. - Back to Text
2. Virginia Gazette, Hunter, ed., September 15, 1752. - Back to Text
3. Executive Journals Council of Colonial Virginia, vol. V, p. 391. - Back to Text
4. James City County Tax Accounts (1768-1769) p 57-photostat, Research Department. - Back to Text
5. Genealogy of Family of Taliaferro of "Powhatan" James City County, folder 2, James City County records, William and Mary College Archives. - Back to Text
6. William and Quarterly series 1, vol. 12, pp 124-125. - Back to Text
7. Taliaferro genealogy ... William and Mary Archives (cited above) - Back to Text
1. Virginia Gazette and Weekly Advertiser, Nicolson, ed., November 4, 1791. - Back to Text