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March 10, 2016 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham Notables: The Austin Family, Part I


Austin’s Law Office, Photo Courtesy Jeanne Stinson

Archibald Austin (1772–1837)

Archibald Austin was born near Buckingham Court House, studied law, was admitted to the bar, and began his practice in his home county.

He served as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates from 1815 to 1817 and, in 1816, he was elected to the Fifteenth Congress (4 March 1817 – 3 March 1819). When Austin was not nominated again to run for Congress, he resumed his law practice in Buckingham. In 1832 and 1836, he served as a presidential elector on the Democratic ticket, first for Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren and then for Martin Van Buren and Richard Mentor Johnson. During 1835-1837, he again served in the Virginia House of Delegates. He was also recommended to serve as Governor of Virginia.

Austin’s law office, pictured above, sat at his plantation, Westfield. His legal papers are now housed at the College of William and Mary. Because Archibald Austin’s papers predate the 1869 burning of Buckingham Courthouse, they are extremely valuable, shedding light on late 18th and early 19th century life in the county. Wills name heirs and human property. Receipts reveal chancery cases Austin argued for his clients. The papers include, among many other interesting documents, proof of an 1806 chancery suit between Randolph Jefferson and his cousin, John Jefferson.

For more about their relationship, see The Jefferson Brothers.

For much more about Archibald Austin’s life as an attorney, consult Early Buckingham County, VA Legal Papers. Compiled and transcribed by Jeanne Stinson. Athens, GA.: Iberian Pub. Co. 1993.

Also see the “THE AUSTIN-TWYMAN PAPERS, 1765-1939” at Swem Library, The College of William and Mary.

Coming Next: “To Archibald Austin, Esq.”

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