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Washington & Northern Virginia Company -- Biographies of Ancestors of Members
William Randolph

      Born in Warwickshire, England, about 1651, William Randolph was the son of Richard Randolph and Elizabeth Ryland Randolph of Morton Hall, Warwickshire, both of whom had died by 1671. He arrived in Virginia by 1673, and in time married Mary Isham, daughter of Henry and Katherine Royall Isham of the plantation, "Bermuda Hundred". His entry into the higher Virginia circle was greatly facilitated by the presence of his uncle, Henry Randolph, who had come to Virginia over 30 years earlier and among other positions served as clerk to the House of Burgesses from 1660 until his death in 1673. When Henry Randolph died in 1673, William succeeded him as Clerk of Henrico County for ten years. In 1674 he had the funds to import 12 servants, and in turn he used their head rights to patent 500 acres on Swift Creek where he built a house.  

He served the colony in many capacities. After clerk of the court he held various county offices including sheriff, coroner, justice of the peace, and justice of the county court. In 1699 after holding a variety of military offices, he was appointed lieutenant colonel of militia in the county. Repeatedly representing Henrico County in the House of Burgesses, he was the speaker of that House in 1696 and in 1698 and

then was clerk of the Burgesses in 1699 to 1701 and in 1702. He had studied some law on his own and in 1694 William Randolph -- at age 44 -- was appointed attorney general for the Crown in Virginia, holding the office for four years after which the office was held for more than half of the next century by his son, Sir John, and two grandsons, Peyton and John.

         William was a land speculator. When his parents in law died shortly after he was married, Mary inherited most of their substantial estate. He acquired in 1684 land from the escheated estate of one of Bacon's fellow rebels on the James River known as "Turkey Island", just below the future city of Richmond. It was here that he built the home, "Turkey Island", where he and Mary raised their family. At some stage he became the escheator general for much of the colony, a position which he held until his death and which must have put him in a very favorable position to add to his land holdings. His losses from the pillaging of his estate in Bacon's Rebellion had been substantial, but he was able to acquire from the Governor in 1698, a patent including the lands of Nathaniel Bacon at Curles, which had reverted in escheat to the Crown. He acquired by many means various tracts of land so that by 1705 he owned 10,000 acres in Henrico County alone.      

   William was also a hard-working and enterprising manager of his business affairs. He was a merchant, whose own ship sailed from "Turkey Island" to England, exchanging his tobacco for luxury goods obtained through his agent, Micajah Perry.  He was one of the leading planters of the  colony, and an early

supporter of the plan to establish a college in America. When William and Mary College was founded he became one of its first trustees. Before his death he was able to educate six of his sons at William and Mary and to establish each of his seven sons on an estate of his own.


Through these sons and two daughters William and Mary Randolph had thirty seven grandchildren, and his descendants intermarried with many of Virginia's notable families -- producing such men as Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall and Robert E. Lee. Because of these links with so many families, they were often referred to as the Adam and Eve of Virginia.

          William Randolph died on 11 April 1711 and was buried at "Turkey Island".

1. "Dictionary of American Biography", Vol 8, edited by Allen Johnson; Charles Scribner's and Sons, New York, NY, 1964
2. "The Virginia Dynasties", by Clifford Dowdey; Little Brown & Company, Boston, MA, 1969
3. "The Randolphs of Virginia", by Jonathan Daniels; Doubleday & Co, Inc, Garden City, NY, 1972

Nov 03