Skip to content
March 17, 2016 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham Notables: The Austin Family, Part III


Virginia State Capitol

Archibald Austin, deceased

The obituary for Archibald Austin, which ran in the Richmond newspapers in October of 1837, is one of the longest I have found from this era for a citizen of Buckingham County. His political service, not only locally but also to the state and the nation, was significant.


The spirit of the true Israelite without guile has departed this life; ARCHIBALD AUSTIN, Esq., of the county of Buckingham, aged about sixty-five years. He labored under a chronic breast affliction [?], greatly aggravated by a residence in Richmond the last two winters as a member of the Legislature; and it may be truly said, that he lessened the number of his days from his patriotic devotion to stand to his post in the service of his country, when he had neither health nor physical power to do so. It is true, that the Court of Buckingham, at whose bar he stood about forty years as a worthy and successful advocate, has adopted resolutions honorable to his virtuous and well-spent life – yet the author of these lines, an old and devoted friend of the deceased, would reproach himself to be longer silent in adding his small tribute of respect and high regard to so much departed worth. As a husband, he was loving and kind; as a father, tender and affectionate; as a friend and neighbor, the bewailings of his neighbors and friends far and near speak forth his claims; as a master, he was humane an uncommonly indulgent– more than thirty years a worthy number of the Anabaptist Church, fellowshipping with the virtuous of every denomination, denouncing none, his walk in all the great Christian duties is a bright example for others to imitate and to pursue. Mr. Austin is favorably known to the public, having represented this District in Congress, and several years a member of the State Legislature. With the origins of the two great parties, Republican and Federalist, Mr. A. attached himself to the former party; believing they were the true friends of free, representative Government, to be administered within the prescribed limits of the Constitution; from which principles he never deviated to the day of his death one jot or tittle, steadfastly opposed to a National Bank, a protective Tariff, and public improvements on the part of Congress as so many usurpations of power on their part.

Let friendship’s faithful heart his bier attend,

Heave the sad sigh and imitate his latter end.

He died near Buckingham on October 16, 1837 and was interred on his estate, on the family cemetery, with his wife, Grace.

Coming Next: For Sale: Estate of Archibald Austin


Leave a Comment
  1. Bill / Dec 29 2022 6:43 am

    I’m curious who built Westfield originally? Archibald Austin? Thomas Sanders? Where is it located?
    Thanks in advance
    Bill Guerrant

    • Joanne Yeck / Dec 29 2022 7:01 am


      Thanks for your comment. I can’t help but perhaps one of the Austin researchers can.


    • L Campbell / Jan 5 2023 8:00 pm

      Just to answer for the general board, or at least guess as well as I can, the original dwelling seems to have been built by the Saunders family.

      There is a deed in the Austin Twyman papers dated 17 Apr 1809 of Thomas & Mary Saunders of Davidson County TN selling “the land whereon Thomas Saunders formerly lived” to Archibald Austin and an accompanying (undated) survey of the Saunders plot.

      There’s also a court document dated 1845 from William Shepherd to the court where Shepherd is suing the Austin estate for $510.41 for building “a comfortable mansion house suitable to the needs of the family” because the previous dwelling was small and insufficient and “in a ruinous state” when Archibald Austin died in 1837. The Austins seemed to think the Estate was supposed to pay the bill but the individual Austins (Thomas and James M, brothers of Archibald) were withholding payment for whatever reason, and were ordered by the court to pay Shepherd with interest dated from 13 Jan 1840

      There’s no record of whether the original house was torn down or added onto / incorporated into the new house but the tone of the legal document leads one to believe an entirely new house was built, making the current Westfield much younger than previously thought. There is also an undated, unsigned “bill of house” that is pretty interesting. 21 windows and casements, flooring, shingles, etc.

      Going to say one more time: If you’re a serious Buckingham county researcher and you *haven’t* dug into the Austin Twyman papers, you’re missing solid genealogical gold.

      • Joanne Yeck / Jan 6 2023 7:50 am


        Thanks, as always, for your contributions to Slate River Ramblings.


      • L Campbell / Jan 6 2023 2:45 pm

        My mistake: James M. Austin and Thomas Austin were sons of Archibald Austin and were co-executors of his estate, along with their uncle James Austin and their mother Grace R. Austin.

        Since the interest on the account started to accrue in January 1840, that’s probably around the time when the new “mansion house” was finished and ready for occupation.

        There’s also a bill to Samuel Bunton (?) dated July 1819 for reroofing the “old house” with 2000 new shingles and “prizing up the old house and putting 6 blocks under”. This fits with an older dwelling that has suffered roof damage and has perhaps begun to settle, needing support piers.

        If so, this was the Austin residence until Shepherd built the new house in 1837-1840ish, would be my guess.

  2. L. Campbell / Jun 20 2022 7:35 pm

    I know this subject is several years old but I have a question. Apparently the plantation “Westfield”, survived well into the 20th century and Archibald had lived there since 1808 when he bought it from the Saunders family.

    There is a picture of his law office, so what became of the cemetery? I know he owned several parcels of land, but it seems very likely that the Austin cemetery would have been located relatively near the house and still might exist.

    My ancestor’s land was listed in tax records as “adjoining Archibald Austin” and he bought 192 acres of land from her in 1847, when she presumably died or moved in with her son Richard Hardiman Smith.

    Thanks for any clarity.

    • Julia McRae Barham / Aug 4 2022 11:22 am

      WESTFIELD was the/a home of my grandfather, Lewis Twyman III, and the place I spent most summers as a child, parts of 1950s-1960s, until my grandmother, his widow, sold it after his death.
      The cemetery indeed is very close to the house, north, maybe 50 yards, within the “lawn” area. When I was a child, it was a large, dense tangle of vines under a huge tree. We couldn’t see any grave markers. The new owners “cleaned it up,” which is too simple a phrase for the work it must have taken.
      From Google Earth, one can make out the cemetery. It is tidy and mown like the rest of the lawn.

      • Joanne Yeck / Aug 5 2022 6:44 am


        Many thanks for adding your memories to this post.


      • L Campbell / Sep 7 2022 7:25 pm

        Thank you for the reply, I only just got back to SRR to read it. The current owner is under the impression that there aren’t very many burials there and I’m up over 20 people so far and just now found the Austin-Twyman papers (free!) at the LDS website. All 35 reels, over 10,000 pages, and have found many more likely burials.

        Would enjoy talking with you about your recollections of Westfield if you wish to contact me at the address below, or if it’s not visible, Joanne has my permission to provide it to you.

  3. John Jones / Mar 17 2016 7:03 pm

    FYI. An Archibald Austin was a witness to a very distant uncle(?)’s will — Josias Jones, probated Nov. 1815.

    • Joanne Yeck / Mar 18 2016 9:21 am

      Thanks. Archibald Austin’s name appears on many surviving documents. Clearly, an important and admired citizen of Buckingham County.

    • L. Campbell / Jul 3 2022 10:18 am

      If John Jones is still monitoring the board, would like to compare notes on Josias Jones. I’ve seen a couple of his surveys in the plat books and his land was close to Archibald’s father, Archelaus Austin.


  1. Buckingham County Obituaries, Part I | slate river ramblings . . . .

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: