Cyrus Griffin
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Virginia
In office
November 28, 1789 – December 14, 1810
Appointed byGeorge Washington
Preceded bySeat established by 1 Stat. 73
Succeeded byJohn Tyler Sr.
8th President of the Congress of the Confederation
In office
January 22, 1788 – November 2, 1788
Preceded byArthur St. Clair
Succeeded byOffice abolished
Member of the Virginia House of Delegates from Lancaster County
In office
October 16, 1786 – October 14, 1787
Serving with James Gordon
Preceded byJames Ball Jr.
Succeeded byJames Ball Jr.
Member of the Virginia House of Delegates from Lancaster County
In office
May 5, 1777 – 1778
Serving with James Gordon
Preceded byJesse Ball
Succeeded byCharles Bell
Personal details
Cyrus Griffin

(1748-07-16)July 16, 1748
Farnham Parish,
Colony of Virginia,
British America
DiedDecember 14, 1810(1810-12-14) (aged 62)
Yorktown, Virginia
Resting placeBruton Parish Church
Williamsburg, Virginia
RelativesSamuel Griffin
EducationUniversity of Edinburgh
Middle Temple

Cyrus Griffin (July 16, 1748 – December 14, 1810), a Virginia lawyer and politician, was the final President of the Congress of the Confederation and first United States district judge of the United States District Court for the District of Virginia.[1]

Education and career

Born on July 16, 1748, to the former Mary Anne Bertrand and her husband Col. Leroy Griffin in Farnham Parish (now Farnham), then in Lancaster County (which became part of Richmond County in his lifetime), Colony of Virginia, British America,[2][3] Griffin had a slightly older brother Samuel Griffin who also became a Virginia lawyer, and Continental Army officer before beginning a political career that included service in the U.S. House of Representatives. Another brother, Dr. Corbin Griffin (d.1813) practiced medicine in Yorktown and became the state surgeon during the Revolutionary War but was imprisoned by the British, and after his release served in the state senate.[4] The family could trace its descent from Thomas Griffin, who had received land grant in 1651 [5] Meanwhile, like his brothers Cyrus received a private education appropriate to his class in Virginia, then sailed to England to complete his education.[6] He studied law at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and at the Middle Temple in London.[6]

Legal and political career

Admitted to the Virginia bar, Griffin had a private legal practice in Lancaster County and surrounding areas in the Colony of Virginia from 1774 to 1777.[3]

Lancaster County voters elected him as one of their two part-time representatives in the Virginia House of Delegates, and he served from 1777 to 1778 (resigning to serve in the Continental Congress as discussed below), and later from 1786 to 1787 (during which session his brother represented Williamsburg).[7] Fellow legislators elected him among Virginia's delegates to the Second Continental Congress, where he served from 1778 to 1780.[3]

He was a Judge of the Court of Appeals in Cases of Capture from 1780 to 1787.[8][3]

Griffin became a delegate to the Ninth Congress of the Confederation from 1787 to 1788, serving as the final President of the Congress of the Confederation under the Articles of Confederation in 1788.[9][3] He aligned with the Federalist party and served as United States Commissioner to the Creek Nation in 1789.[3]

Federal judicial service

Griffin received a recess appointment from President George Washington on November 28, 1789, to the United States District Court for the District of Virginia, to a new seat authorized by 1 Stat. 73.[3] He was nominated to the same position by President Washington on February 8, 1790.[3] He was confirmed by the United States Senate on February 10, 1790, and received his commission the same day.[3] His service terminated on December 14, 1810, due to his death in Yorktown, Virginia.[3] He was interred in Bruton Parish Church in Williamsburg, Virginia.[6]

Personal life

Griffin was the son of Col. Leroy Griffin and his wife Mary Ann Bertrand.[10] He married Christina Stewart, oldest daughter of John Stewart, the sixth Earl of Traquair (1699–1779).[11] They had at least a daughter Mary, who married Thomas Griffin, son of Dr. Corbin Griffin of Yorktown and a member of the Virginia House of Delegates as well as U.S. Congress, although their degree of consanguinity is unclear.[5]


  1. ^ Lyon Gardiner Tyler, Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography (1915) vol. 2, p. 10
  2. ^ Tyler p. 11
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Cyrus Griffin at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
  4. ^,_Corbin
  5. ^ a b Tyler p. 111
  6. ^ a b c United States Congress. "Cyrus Griffin (id: G000459)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
  7. ^ Cynthia Miller Leonard, The Virginia General Assembly 1619-1978 (Richmond: Virginia State Library 1978) pp. 126, 130, 161
  8. ^ "Journals of the Continental Congress --FRIDAY, APRIL 28, 1780".
  9. ^ Wilson, Rick K. (1994). Congressional Dynamics: Structure, Coordination, and Choice in the First American Congress, 1774–1789. Stanford: Stanford University Press. pp. 76–80. ISBN 0-8047-2293-5.
  10. ^ "The American Historical Register". Historical Register Publishing Company. July 17, 1895 – via Google Books.
  11. ^ "Traquair, Earl of (S, 1633–1861)". Archived from the original on 17 June 2012. Retrieved 27 July 2011.


Political offices Preceded byArthur St. Clair President of the Congress of the Confederation 1788 Office abolished George Washington becomes President of the United States Legal offices New creation Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Virginia 1789–1810 Succeeded byJohn Tyler Sr.