Col. Archibald Cary
Member of the
House of Burgesses
In office
Personal details
BornJanuary 24, 1721
DiedFebruary 26, 1787(1787-02-26) (aged 66)
Spouse(s)Mary Randolph
RelationsRichard Randolph (father-in-law)
Parent(s)Henry Cary Jr.
Ann Edwards
OccupationPlanter, Soldier, Politician
Known forAmpthill

Col. Archibald Cary (January 24, 1721 – February 26, 1787)[1] was a Virginia planter, soldier, politician, and major landowner. He was a political figure from the colony of Virginia.[2]

Early life

Col. Archibald Cary was born on January 24, 1721. He was the son of Henry Cary Jr. and Ann Edwards Cary.[3] He was educated in Williamsburg and Ampthill, Virginia and is believed to have attended the College of William and Mary.[4]

Upon his father's death in 1742 Cary inherited over 4,000 acres, lying on both sides of the Willis River, in what would eventually become Cumberland and Buckingham counties.[5] His plantation, called Buckingham, was identified on the Joshua Fry-Peter Jefferson map (1752).[6]


Cary was a member of the House of Burgesses from 1756 to 1776.[7][8] In 1764, he served on the committee of Burgesses that wrote resolutions against the proposed Stamp Act, but the following year he voted against Patrick Henry's Virginia Resolves as being premature and too inflammatory.[1]

As tensions with the mother country escalated, in 1773 Cary served as a member of Virginia's committee of correspondence.[1] When the House of Burgesses was dissolved at the outset of the American Revolution, he served as a delegate to the Virginia Conventions. At the Fifth Virginia Convention in May 1776, he served as the chairman of the committee of the whole that adopted the celebrated resolution of independence, which instructed Virginia's delegates to the Second Continental Congress to propose a declaration of independence.[1] After Virginia became an independent state in 1776, Cary became the first speaker of the Senate of Virginia, and remained in that position until his death.[1]

Revolutionary War

During the American Revolutionary War, Cary was placed in charge of recruitment and supplies in central Virginia. He was asked by Thomas Jefferson, his colleague in the House of Burgesses and fellow graduate of the College of William & Mary, to loan the Virginia Colony the funds to underwrite the cost of the Virginia militia, on the promise by Jefferson he would be repaid later, though he never was repaid. He did fund the Virginia militia for the following reason: though he had always been loyal to the Crown (he had a Charter from the Crown for all his thousands of acres of property at Ampthill plantation), he had grown tired of British attempts to continue promoting the sale of slaves in America. Although he owned some 200 slaves, he had come to the conclusion that everything about the slave trade and the owning of African slaves was only going to create major problems in America.


Cary was known among Baptists for arresting many Baptists for preaching without a license. There was one incident where a Baptist preacher continued to preach from his cell window. To solve the problem, Cary put a wall around the prison.

His nickname was "Old Iron". He operated Chesterfield Forge, which fabricated iron, starting in 1750, and ending in 1781, when it was burned by Benedict Arnold.[9] He owned British thoroughbred horses and traded with England.

Personal life

On May 31, 1744, Cary married Mary Randolph, the daughter of Richard Randolph of Curles,[10] and sister of William Randolph of Tuckahoe (1713-1746), who married Maria Page (daughter of Mann Page).[11] The two had nine children together and, through his marriage, Cary's children were lineal descendants of Pocahontas.[12] Their children included:[13][14]


  1. ^ a b c d e Tyler, Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography, 8.
  2. ^ Harrison, Fairfax (1919). The Virginia Carys: An Essay in Genealogy. New York: The De Vinne Press. ISBN 9785878936248. Retrieved 20 March 2017. Archibald Cary (1721–1787).
  3. ^ Byars, William Vincent (1916). B. and M. Gratz: Merchants in Philadelphia, 1754-1798; Papers of Interest to Their Posterity and the Posterity of Their Associates. Hugh Stephens Printing Company. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  4. ^ Tarter, Brent. "Cary, Archibald (1721–1787)". Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved 2016-05-04.
  5. ^ Lancaster, Robert Alexander (1915). Historic Virginia homes and churches. Lippincott. p. 106. Retrieved 20 March 2017. Archibald Cary (1721–1787).
  6. ^ Yeck, Joanne L. Yeck, "At A Place Called Buckingham". Kettering, Ohio: Slate River Press, 2011.
  7. ^ Virginia. General Assembly, Journals of the House of Burgesses of Virginia, 1766-1769, p.11
  8. ^ Member of Last Assembly of 1775–1776; last official session met beginning June 1, 1775, later meetings had no quorum. Stanard, 1902, pp. 197–200.
  9. ^ Falling Creek History, The Falling Creek Ironworks Foundation
  10. ^ Page, Richard Channing Moore (1893). "Randolph Family". Genealogy of the Page Family in Virginia (2 ed.). New York: Press of the Publishers Printing Co. pp. 249–272.
  11. ^ Crawford, Alan Pell (2000). Unwise Passions: A True Story of a Remarkable Woman--and the First Great Scandal of Eighteenth-century America. Simon and Schuster. p. 7. ISBN 9780684834740. Retrieved 20 March 2017. Archibald Cary (1721–1787).
  12. ^ Tilton, Robert S. (1994). "Notes". Pocahontas: The Evolution of an American Narrative. Cambridge University Press. p. 191. ISBN 978-0-521-46959-3.
  13. ^ "A Guide to the Cary Family Papers, 1748-1772". The Library of Virginia. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  14. ^ Tarter, Brent. "Cary, Archibald (1721–1787)". Dictionary of Virginia Biography. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  15. ^ Harbury, Katharine E. (2004). Colonial Virginia's Cooking Dynasty. University of South Carolina Press. ISBN 9781570035135. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  16. ^ Glenn, Thomas Allen, ed. (1898). "The Randolphs: Randolph Genealogy". Some Colonial Mansions: And Those Who Lived In Them : With Genealogies Of The Various Families Mentioned. Vol. 1. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Henry T. Coates & Company. p. 459.
  17. ^ Sons of the Revolution in State of Virginia Quarterly Magazine. Sons of the Revolution in the State of Virginia. 1922. Retrieved 20 March 2017.