Landon Carter
Landon Carter I.jpg
Member of the House of Burgesses for Richmond County, Colony of Virginia
In office
Serving with John Woodbridge
Preceded byWilliam Fauntleroy
Succeeded byThomas Glasscock
Personal details
BornAugust 18, 1710
Coromaton plantation, Colony of Virginia
DiedDecember 22, 1778
ChildrenRobert Wormeley Carter and several daughters
Parent(s)Robert Carter I, Elizabeth Landon Willis
RelativesCharles, Robert Carter II of Nomini, George Carter (brothers); John Carter (half-brother)
Residence(s)Sabine Hall
Educationin England
Occupationplanter, politician

Col. Landon Carter, I (August 18, 1710 – December 22, 1778) was an American planter and burgess for Richmond County, Virginia.[1] Although one of the most popular patriotic writers and pamphleters of pre-Revolutionary and Revolutionary-era Virginia, he may today be perhaps best known for his journal, which described colonial life leading up the American War of Independence, The Diary of Colonel Landon Carter. In 1769 he was elected a member of the American Philosophical Society.[2]

Early life and schooling

Landon Carter was the son of Robert Carter (a Virginia-born merchant planter, so rich and politically powerful that contemporaries nicknamed him "King" Carter) and his second wife. His mother died when he was young, and his father remarried, but died when Landon was still a boy. His elder half brother John Carter became guardian of his under-age half siblings, and his brother Robert's young son, Robert Carter III, who would like his uncle John serve many years on the Governor's Council. In 1719, at the age of nine, Landon Carter was sent to England to be schooled under the early linguist, Solomon Lowe. Although he proved a good student and received four more years of education than his brother Charles Carter of Cleve, Landon returned to Virginia in 1727.

Family connections and personal life

Maria Byrd Carter
Maria Byrd Carter

"King" Carter died in 1732, and upon reaching legal age, Landon inherited a portion of his father's estate. He would marry three times, each time within the First Families of Virginia.[3] He survived all three wives and increased his landholdings (which he farmed using enslaved labor) and siring several children. Shortly after reaching legal age, Carter married his first wife, Elizabeth Wormeley, daughter of burgess John Wormeley. She died in 1740, but gave birth to Robert Wormeley Carter, who had at times a rocky relationship with his father, but ultimately followed a similar career path. In 1742, Landon married Maria Byrd, the 15 year old daughter of William Byrd II, who died two years later. Carter married his third wife, Elizabeth Beale, in 1746, and decided not to remarry again after her death.[4]

Like his father, Carter arranged favorable marriages for his progeny among the First Families of Virginia.[5] Carter's daughter, Maria, married Robert Beverley, son of Colonel William Beverley and Elizabeth Bland. He was named after his paternal grandfather. The Beverleys were indirectly descended from Pocahontas through their marriage to the Randolphs.[6]


Shortly after his first marriage, Carter settled on lands he had inherited in Richmond County. His mansion house, Sabine Hall, which he built about 1734,[7] stood at the heart of his plantation there.

Carter succeeded on his third attempt to become one of the representatives for Richmond County in the House of Burgesses, then won re-election from 1752 until defeated in 1768.[8][9] In 1764, his brother Charles Carter of Cleve, who represented King George County, where he ran plantations and produced wine as well as tobacco, had died. Landon helped raise his then under-aged nephews (including one named Landon (1751-1811) to honor him and who would represent King George County in the Virginia House of Delegates in 1781).

Death and legacy

Carter was survived by several children, of whom his firstborn son Robert Wormeley Carter would continue his planter, diarist and legislative traditions. He is buried at the Lower Lunenburg Parish Church cemetery in Warsaw, Virginia. He left his heirs 50,000 acres (200 km2) of land and as many as 500 slaves.[10] The Special Collections Research Center at the College of William and Mary holds papers relating to Landon Carter and many other descendants of King Carter.[11]


  1. ^ Jack P. Greene, " Carter, Landon (ca.1710-1778)" in Dictionary of Virginia Biography vol. 3, p. 56, also available at Landon Carter] at Encyclopedia Virginia
  2. ^ Bell, Whitfield J., and Charles Greifenstein, Jr. Patriot-Improvers: Biographical Sketches of Members of the American Philosophical Society. 3 vols. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1997, 3:616–619.
  3. ^ Florence Tyler Carlton, A Genealogy of the Known Descendants of Robert Carter of Corotoman (Irvington, Foundation for Christ Church Inc. 1982), ISBN=83-081512) pp. 371-428
  4. ^ Isaac, Rhys (2004) Landon Carter's Uneasy Kingdom: Revolution and Rebellion on a Virginia Plantation, pp. xvii-xviii. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-518908-6.
  5. ^ Florence Tyler Carlton, A Genealogy of the Known Descendants of Robert Carter of Corotoman (Irvington, Foundation for Christ Church Inc. 1982), ISBN=83-081512) pp. 240-368
  6. ^ Louise Pecquet du Bellet, Some Prominent Virginia Families, p. 161
  7. ^ Kornwolf, James D. (2002). Architecture and Town Planning in Colonial North America, p. 1566. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0-8018-5986-7.
  8. ^ Cynthia Miller Leonard, The Virginia General Assembly 1619-1978 (Richmond: Virginia State Library 1978, pp. 85, 87, 89, 93, 96
  9. ^ encyclopediavirginia
  10. ^ Bontemps, Alex (2001). The Punished Self: Surviving Slavery in the Colonial South, p. 30. Cornell University Press. ISBN 0-8014-3521-8.
  11. ^ "Carter Family Papers". Special Collections Research Center, Swem Library, College of William and Mary. Retrieved 22 January 2011.

Further reading

Archival Records