William Munford

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William Munford
Virginia Council of State
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State Senator, Virginia
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Representative for Mecklenburg County, Virginia House of Delegates
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Personal details
Born August 15, 1775
  Richland, Mecklenburg County, Virginia
Died June 21, 1825
  Richmond, Virginia
Resting place
Alma mater College of William & Mary
Profession Law reporter
Spouse(s) Sarah Radford
Known for Poems, and Compositions in Prose on Several Occasions (1798)
Signature [[File:{{{signature}}}|left|200px]]

William Munford (1775-1825), legislator and court reporter, was born in Mecklenburg County, Virginia to Colonel Robert and Anne Munford.[1] He began his education at the grammar school of the College of William & Mary, eventually entering the college itself.[2] After Munford's father’s death, George Wythe provided for his continued education.[3] Without Wythe’s aid, Munford likely would not have been able to continue his studies at the College.[4] Under Wythe, Munford developed his life-long appreciation for both the classics and the law.[5] Munford considered Wythe his “great resource” and believed that “such a man as he casts light upon all around him.”[6] Munford completed his legal education under St. George Tucker who succeeded Wythe as Professor of Law and Police after Wythe resigned in 1790.[7] However his remained close to George Wythe; at Wythe’s funeral, Munford gave a eulogy considered by those present to be an effective tribute.[8]

After completing his legal studies, Munford entered politics, representing Mecklenburg County from 1797-1798.[9] In 1800, he was elected to the state Senate.[10] In 1811, Munford was made Clerk of the House of Delegates, a position he held until his death.[11] In addition to his political activities, Munford compiled reports of the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.[12] His efforts began at first in collaboration with William W. Hening covering the years 1806-1810, and later as a solitary enterprise from 1810-1821. [13]

Munford is best known for his contributions to the classics, rather than the law.[14] In 1798 he published a compilation of poems and translated classical writings and tragedies.[15] Throughout his life, he worked on crafting a definitive translation of Homer’s Iliad because he believed that existing English translations did not capture the magnificence of the original.[16] In 1846, twenty-one years after Munford's death, his translation was published, and was considered a significant achievement in American scholarship.[17]

See also

Oration, Pronounced at the Funeral of George Wythe


  1. Theodore S. Cox, "Munford, William" in vol. VII, part 1 of Dictionary of American Biography ed. Dumas Malone(New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1962),326.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Lyon G. Tyler, “Glimpses of Old College Life,” William and Mary College Quarterly Historical Magazine 8, no. 3 (Jan. 1900), 153-154.
  7. Ibid., 156
  8. Oscar Lane Shewmake, The Honourable George Wythe: Teacher, Lawyer, Jurist, Statesman: An Address Delivered Before the Wythe Law Club of the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, Dec. 18, 1921. Richmond, Va., 1950.
  9. Theodore S. Cox, "Munford, William," 326.
  10. Ibid.
  11. Ibid.
  12. Ibid.
  13. Ibid.
  14. Ibid.
  15. Ibid., 326-27
  16. Ibid., 327
  17. Ibid.