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 his 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.[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 1797-98.[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 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 1806-10 and later as a solitary enterprise for the years 1810-21. [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 Illiad because he believed that existing English translations did not capture the magnificence of the original.[16] In 1846, twenty-one years after his death, his translation was published and was considered a significant achievement in American scholarship.[17]


  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 Honorable George Wythe: Teacher, Lawyer, Jurist, Statesman” (Speech, Williamsburg, Virginia, December 18, 1921), William & Mary Law School Scholarship Repository, http://scholarship.law.wm.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2420&context=facpubs , 22.
  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.