Virginia Genealogies: A Genealogy of the Glassell Family of Scotland and Virginia : Also of the Families of Ball, Brown, Bryan, Conway, Daniel, Ewell, Holladay, Lewis, Littlepage, Moncure, Peyton, Robinson, Scott, Taylor, Wallace, and Others, of Virginia and Maryland

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Hayden's Virginia Genealogies makes use of several (not entirely accurate) early biographies of George Wythe, for the note for his first wife, Ann Lewis, daughter of Zachary Lewis.[1] Hayden's information on the Lewis family is taken from local records in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, and seems accurate. Unfortunately, Hayden still repeats the idea that Wythe wasted ten years of his life before turning to the law.[2]

Excerpt from Virginia Genealogies, 1891

Page 381

2. ZACHARY2 LEWIS (Zachary1), of Spotsylvania county, Va., b. Thursday, Jan. 1, 1702; d. Jan. 20, 1765; will dat. July 7, 1764; pro. Spotsylvania county, Feb. 4, 1765 (D. 168); m. Jan. 9, 1725, by Rev. Theodore Staige, MARY WALLER, b. Jan. 20, 1699 ; B. by Rev. John Monroe, Oct. 17, 1699; d. Mar. 23, 1781; daughter of Colonel John and Dorothy (King) Waller. (Ex. WALLER 2.)

Mr. Lewis was a lawyer of large wealth made by his practice. He was attorney for Elizabeth Brown, Dec. 1, 1726. (A. 207.) He rec'd land in Spots. Co., Dec. 13, 1730, from Dunnill Abney, Jr. From 1731 to 1750 he served as counsel to the vestries of St. Mark's Par., Culp. Co. He was also a vestryman of St. George's Par., Spots. Co., 1728, et seq. Mr. Conway said "the road known as 'the Lawyer road' to this day in Spots. Co., took its name from the fact that Mr. Lewis and his son John rode it together so often in attending Orange Co. Courts." Mr. L.'s will names his sons John, Zachary, Waller and Benjamin, daus. Meriwether, Betsy Littlepage wife of James, Lucy Ford and Dorothea Smith; makes his four sons executors. His personal estate was appraised at £1768, 6, 1.*


4. i. ANNE,3 b. Aug. 30. 1726; B. by Rev. T. Staige, Dec. 29, 1726; d. Aug. 8, 1748; m. cir. 1756, Hon. George Wythe, LL. D., b. Elizabeth City Co., Va., 1726 ; d. s. p. June 8, 1806, æ 81; will dat. Apr. 20, 1803, to Feb. 24, 1806. Chancellor Wythe was son of a Mr. Wythe who owned a good estate on Back River, Va., and d. leaving his wife and three children. His mother was one of the five daus. of Mr. Keith, a Quaker, and author of a work on mathematics, who came from Eng. to Hampton, Va., 1690.

Mr. Wythe was ed. by his mother, and studied law with his uncle-in-law, Mr. Dewey of P. G. Co., Va. His mother d. cir. 1746. With means at hand young Wythe give himself up for 10 years to a life of dissipation. At 30 years of age he reformed, never ceasing to regret the loss of the opportunities wasted in fast living. He m. Miss Lewis when 30. He came to the bar of Williamsburg after 1756. In 1758 he was a Burgess. At this time Thomas Jefferson came under his instruction, and the friendship formed between the two was lasting. In 1764 Mr. W. was a mem. of the Com. of the Va. House which presented resolutions of remonstrance to the House of Commons. Nov. 6, 1770, he was appointed Justice for E. City Co. In 1774 he joined the volunteer forces against Lord Dunmore, and in 1776 was elected to the Continental Congress, signing the Declaration of Independence July 4, 1776; was appointed Nov. 5, 1776, a committee man to revise the Va. State laws, and in 1777 became Speaker of the House of Burgesses. He was appointed one of the three Judges of the High Court of Chancery, Jan. 14, 1778, and when the Court was reorganized, 1788, was appointed, Dec. 24, 1788, sole Chancellor, dying in office. In 1781 he was Prof. of Law at W. and M. Coll., resigning 1789. He then removed to Richmond. Dec., 1788, he was chosen a mem. Conv. which framed the U. S. Constitution. In 1795-9 he published his reports of 8 cases.[3] He is believed to have been poisoned by his grand

* Zachariah Lewis of Spotsylvania Co. m. Aug. 24, 1756, Mary Brent of Overwharton Parish, Va. (O. R.)

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nephew, George Wythe Sweeney, grandson of his sister. He rec'd Hon. deg. of LL. D. from W. and M. Coll., 1790. He m. (II.) Elizabeth, dau. of Richard and Eliza (Eggleston) Taliaferro of "Powhatan," near Williamsburg. Sweeney was tried for the crime of murder, but was acquitted.

Very full and interesting sketches of Mr. Wythe will be found in App. Cyc. Am. Biog.; Sanderson's Signers; Munford's "Two Parsons," 1884, pp. 355-365, 414-433, 466-67; Miner's [sic] 2d ed. of Wythe's Chancery Cases in Va., 1852; Green's Wythe's Va. Reports, XI., XL.; Munford's Oration; Va. His. Reg., VI. 152; Va. Conv., 1788, Vols. IX. and X. Va. His. Soc. Coll.

See also


  1. Horace Edwin Hayden, Virginia Genealogies: A Genealogy of the Glassell Family of Scotland and Virginia : Also of the Families of Ball, Brown, Bryan, Conway, Daniel, Ewell, Holladay, Lewis, Littlepage, Moncure, Peyton, Robinson, Scott, Taylor, Wallace, and Others, of Virginia and Maryland (Wilkes-Barre, PA: E.B. Yordy, 1891), 381-382.
  2. Leon M. Bazile, "Discourse Refuting Statements Made That George Wythe at One Time Led a Life of Dissipation," n.d., Virginia Historical Society, Richmond, Virginia.
  3. Wythe's Decisions of Cases in Virginia, by the High Court of Chancery was published in 1795 and contains forty-two cases; Hayden here seems to be referring to a series of supplemental reports published in pamphlet form in 1796 and later: Between Aylett and Aylett (1796?), Between Field and Harrison (1796), Between Yates and Salle (1796?), Case upon the Statute for Distribution (1796), Between Fowler and Saunders and Between Goodall and Bullock (1798?, together in one pamphlet), and Between Wilkins and Taylor (1799). See also: Love against Donelson (1801?) and The Case of Overtons Mill (1803?).

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