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Justices of the Fairfax County and the Town of Alexandria
During the American Revolution

 

Justices of the County Court essentially ran the county government before and during the Revolution. This body of men exercised not only judicial, but also executive and legislative powers. One of the Fairfax County justices, George Mason, became a champion for the separation of powers.

 

The identity of the justices during the early years of the Revolution is known primarily through the Fairfax County Bond Book-1752-1782. This book records bonds posted by administrators of estates to the justices, presumably those in the court at the time. The pages of the book consist of pre-printed forms with spaces for the names of the administrators, the justices to whom the bond was made, date, the decedent, the amount of the bond, and those posting bond. The pre-printed material was for bonds posted in the 1750's and included the year in the reign of King George II. For bonds posted after King George III ascended to the throne "Second" was lined out and "Third" was penned in. After the Declaration of Independence, reference to the King of England was lined out on every bond.

 

The second source of justices of Fairfax County during the Revolution is the Journal of the Council of the State of Virginia, Vol. 1. In 1776 the House of Delegates passed a requirement that Justices take an oath of allegiance to the Revolutionary government. The Journal states for 23 December 1776:

Ordered that a Commission of the Peace issue for the County of Fairfax directed to all those named in the last Commission except Sampson Darrell and Bryan Fairfax who refuse to qualifie William Adams and Henry Gunnell who failed to appear when summoned and John Watts Junior who is dead. And it further Ordered that the following Gentlemen who have been recommended by the Court of the said County be added namely Thomas Pollard , Martin Cockburn, Richard Chichester, Thomas Triplett, George Gilpin and Josiah Watson one half and one more to be a Quorum. [Council Journal 12 July 1776-30 May 1777, p. 292]

Fairfax was known to have Tory sympathies. Although this document does name the incumbent justices retained in their positions, it does show they took the oath of allegiance to Virginia, as required by statute.

 

The House of Delegates authorized the incorporation of the Town of Alexandria on 4 October 1779. Unlike today, however, Alexandria was not and independent city, but remained part of Fairfax County. The citizens elected men to the Council and the Council then elected a mayor, recorder, and aldermen from among themselves, the remainder serving as Common Councilmen. All of these men, by statute, were justices in the Town of Alexandria. A Hustings Court was established in Alexandria which began to function in 1780. The Order Book, 1780-1787 of this Court is the third source of justices.

 

The fourth document identifying justices of Fairfax County during the Revolution is a memorial from some of the justices to the General Assembly received 20 November 1782 protesting misrepresentations about the propriety of their actions. Unfortunately, the document to which they were responding is no longer extant. The document is signed by seven justices and includes a summary of proceedings from a January 1781 when the same men were serving. A transcription of this petition can be found at: Fairfax 1782 11 20.pdf. The original document is at the Library of Virginia in Record Group 78, under Fairfax County Legislative Petitions.

 

The sixth source of justices of Fairfax County is the Court Order Book, 1783-1788. This source reveals no further new names, but does show later service for some justices.

 

Three state record books, organized by county, list justices and other county officials. Almost all of these records are after the Revolution ended, but The Register of Magistrates and Other Civil Officers, 1775-1865, does list three Fairfax County justices serving during the Revolution. There is no date of service for the first, but the list is chronological and the next date is 1780.

 

The justices of Fairfax County and the Town of Alexandria from 19 April 1775 through 26 November 1783 are listed below.

 

 

NAME OF
JUSTICE
DOCUMENT DATE OF FIRST
APPEARANCE
DATE OF LAST
APPEARANCE
Adam, Robert
• Bond Book, 1752-1782 15 May 1775, p. 143 17 Nov. 1777, p. 160
• Order Book, 1783-1788 16 June 1783, p. 1 16 Sept. 1783, p. 45
Adams, William
• Journal of Council of State 23 Dec. 1776, p. 292 Declined to appear when summoned
Allison, Robert
• Hustings Order Bk., 1780-1787 20 Feb. 1783, p. 22 21 Nov. 1783, p. 45
Arell, David
• Hustings Order Bk., 1780-1787 Sworn in as Alderman 11 Feb. 1780, p. 7.
• Hustings Order Bk., 1780-1787 9 Mar. 1780, p. 7 11 Oct. 1781, p. 13
Arell, Samuel
• Hustings Order Bk., 1780-1787 20 Mar. 1783, p. 24 21 Nov. 1783, p. 45
Broadwater, Charles
• Bond Book, 1752-1782 21 Nov. 1775 p. 146 22 Oct. 1783, p. 50
• Order Book, 1783-1788 18 Aug. 1783, p. 21 16 Sept. 1783, p. 50
Bushby, William
• Hustings Order Bk., 1780-1787 Sworn in as Alderman 11 Feb. 1780, p. 7.
• Hustings Order Bk., 1780-1787 13 Apr. 1780, p. 8 13 Apr. 1780, p. 8
Carlyle, John
• Bond Book, 1752-1782 15 May 1775 p. 143 15 Nov. 1779, p. 171
Chichester, Richard
• Journal of Council of State 23 Dec. 1776, p. 292 Appointed by Council
• Bond Book, 1752-1782 20 Oct 1777 p. 159 16 Oct. 1780, p. 174
• Order Book, 1783-1788 16 June 1783, p. 2 20 June. 1783, p. 16
Cockburn, Martin
• Journal of Council of State 23 Dec. 1776, p. 292 Appointed by Council
• Bond Book, 1752-1782 15 Sept. 1777 p. 158 16 Sept. 1782, p. 183
• Fairfax Petition 20 Nov. 1782 Jan. 1781 20 Nov. 1782
Coleman, James
• Register of Magistrates [Bef. Dec. 1775], p. 24 “Aged and infirm”
Conway, Richard
• Hustings Order Bk., 1780-1787 Sworn in as Alderman 11 Feb. 1780, p. 7.
• Hustings Order Bk., 1780-1787 19 Feb. 1782, p. 19 21 Nov. 1783, p. 47
Darne, Henry
• Bond Book, 1752-1782 18 Nov 1782 p. 182 18 Nov. 1782, p. 182
• Order Book, 1783-1788 18 Aug. 1783, p. 21 21 Oct. 1783, p. 49
Darrell, Sampson
• Bond Book, 1752-1782 19 June 1775 p. 144 21 May 1776, p. 151
• Journal of Council of State 23 Dec. 1776, p. 292 Refused to qualify
Fairfax, Bryan
• Journal of Council of State 23 Dec. 1776, p. 292 Refused to qualify
Fitzgerald, John
• Hustings Order Bk., 1780-1787 Sworn in as Alderman 11 Feb. 1780, p. 7.
Gibson, John
• Bond Book, 1752-1782 20 May 1782 p. 181 20 May 1782, p. 181
• Order Book, 1783-1788 16 June 1783, p. 1 17 Nov. 1783, p. 51
Gunnell, Henry
• Journal of Council of State 23 Dec. 1776, p. 292 Declined to appear when summoned
Gilpin, George
• Journal of Council of State 23 Dec. 1776, p. 292 Appointed by Council
• Register of Magistrates December 1776, p. 24 “resident in Columbia”
• Bond Book, 1752-1782 15 Dec 1777 p. 162 15 Mar. 1779, p. 167
• Fairfax Petition 20 Nov. 1782 Jan. 1781 20 Nov. 1782
• Order Book, 1783-1788 16 June 1783, p. 2 19 Nov. 1783, p. 53
Harper, John
• Hustings Order Bk., 1780-1787 Sworn in as Common Councilman, 11 Feb. 1780, p. 7
Hartshorne, William
• Hustings Order Bk., 1780-1787 Sworn in as Common Councilman, 11 Feb. 1780, p. 7
Henderson, Alexander
• Bond Book, 1752-1782 20 Feb. 1776 p. 149 18 Dec. 1781, p. 180
Hendricks, James
• Bond Book, 1752-1782 20 June 1780 p. 172 18 June 1781, p. 177
• Hustings Order Bk., 1780-1787 Sworn in as Alderman 11 Feb. 1780, p. 7.
• Hustings Order Bk., 1780-1787 9 Mar. 1780, p. 7 11 Oct. 1781, p. 13
• Hustings Order Bk., 1780-1787 Served as Mayor 1781, pp, 12, 13.
• Fairfax Petition 20 Nov. 1782 Jan. 1781 20 Nov. 1782
• Order Book, 1783-1788 19 June 1783, p. 11 18 Nov. 1783, p. 51
Herbert, William
• Hustings Order Bk., 1780-1787 Served as Mayor 1782-1783, pp. 15, 21.
• Hustings Order Bk., 1780-1787 19 Feb. 1782, p. 13 21 Jan. 1783, p. 21
Hooe, Robert Townsend
• Bond Book, 1752-1782 15 Nov. 1779 p. 171 16 Sept. 1782, p. 184
• Hustings Order Bk., 1780-1787 Served as Mayor, 1780, p. 5.
• Hustings Order Bk., 1780-1787 9 Mar. 1780, p. 7 20 Nov. 1783, p. 43
• Order Book, 1783-1788 17 Nov. 1783, p. 51 17 Nov. 1783, p. 51
Hunter, Jr., William
• Hustings Order Bk., 1780-1787 Sworn in as Common Councilman, 11 Feb. 1780, p. 7
Lewis, Thomas
• Bond Book, 1752-1782 18 Sept. 1780, p. 173 18 June 1781, p. 177
• Order Book, 1783-1788 19 Aug. 1783, p. 22 19 Aug. 1783, p. 22
Little, Charles
• Fairfax Petition 20 Nov. 1782 Jan. 1781 20 Nov. 1782
• Bond Book, 1752-1782 18 Feb 1782 p. 179 18 Feb 1782 p. 179
• Order Book, 1783-1788 16 June 1783, p. 1 18 Nov. 1783, p. 52
Lyles, William
• Hustings Order Bk., 1780-1787 20 Feb. 1783, p. 22 21 Nov. 1783, p. 45
Lynn, Adam
• Hustings Order Bk., 1780-1787 Sworn in as Common Councilman, 11 Feb. 1780, p. 7
Mason, George
• Bond Book, 1752-1782 19 June 1775 p. 144 17 Mar. 1777, p. 156
• Order Book, 1783-1788 19 June 1783, p. 11 20 Oct. 1783, p. 46
McCarty, Daniel
• Bond Book, 1752-1782 19 June 1775 p. 144 16 Sept. 1782, p. 184
• Order Book, 1783-1788 17 June 1783, p. 4 19 Nov. 1783, p. 53
• Fairfax Petition 20 Nov. 1782 Jan. 1781 20 Nov. 1782
McCrea, Robert
• Bond Book, 1752-1782 18 Sep. 1780 p. 173 16 Sept. 1782, p. 184
• Hustings Order Bk., 1780-1787 9 Mar. 1780, p. 7 11 Oct. 1781, p. 13
• Fairfax Petition 20 Nov. 1782 Jan. 1781 20 Nov. 1782
• Order Book, 1783-1788 16 June 1783, p. 1 19 Nov. 1783, p. 53
Payne, Edward
• Bond Book, 1752-1782 16 Sept 1776 p. 154 16 Sept. 1776, p. 154
• Order Book, 1783-1788 18 June 1783, p. 9 22 Aug. 1783, p. 38
Payne, William
• Bond Book, 1752-1782 15 May 1775, p. 143 16 Sept. 1776, p. 154
Pollard, Thomas
• Journal of Council of State 23 Dec. 1776, p. 292 Appointed by Council
• Bond Book, 1752-1782 15 Dec. 1777 p. 161 20 Sept. 1779, p. 170
Ramsay, Dennis
• Hustings Order Bk., 1780-1787 20 Feb. 1783, p. 22 21 Nov. 1783, p. 45
Ramsay, William
• Bond Book, 1752-1782 15 May 1775, p. 143 16 Sept. 1782, p. 184
• Fairfax Petition 20 Nov. 1782 Jan. 1781 20 Nov. 1782
• Order Book, 1783-1788 16 June 1783, p. 1 19 Nov. 1783, p. 53
Ross, Hector
• Bond Book, 1752-1782 20 Feb. 1776 p. 148 16 Dec. 1776, p. 155
• Order Book, 1783-1788 22 Aug 1783, p. 36 19 Nov. 1783, p. 53
Triplett, Thomas
• Journal of Council of State 23 Dec. 1776, p. 292 Appointed by Council
Watson, Josiah
• Journal of Council of State 23 Dec. 1776, p. 292 Appointed by Council
• Bond Book, 1752-1782 17 Mar 1777 p. 156 18 Nov 1782 p. 182
• Fairfax Petition 20 Nov. 1782 Jan. 1781 20 Nov. 1782
• Hustings Order Bk., 1780-1787 Sworn in as Common Councilman, 11 Feb. 1780, p. 7
• Hustings Order Bk., 1780-1787 19 Feb. 1782, p. 13 21 Jan. 1783, p. 21
• Order Book, 1783-1788 21 July 1783, p. 20 18 Nov. 1783, p. 52
Watts, Jr., John
• Journal of Council of State 23 Dec. 1776, p. 292 Reported deceased
West, John
• Bond Book, 1752-1782 21 Nov. 1775, p. 146 16 Sept. 1776, p. 153
Wise, Peter
• Hustings Order Bk., 1780-1787 Sworn in as Common Councilman, 11 Feb. 1780, p. 7
Wren, James
• Register of Magistrates September 1779, p. 24 “does not Act”
       

 

 

 

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2017 Fairfax Resolves Chapter, Sons of the American Revolution