William Randolph was baptized in Moreton Morrell, Warwickshire, England on 7 November 1650. He was the son of Richard Randolph (21 Feb 1621 – 2 May 1678) and Elizabeth Ryland (21 Oct 1621 – 1669) of Warwickshire. Richard Randolph was originally from Little Houghton (also called Houghton Parva), a small village east of Northampton, where Richard Randolph's father, William, was a "steward and servant" to Edward la Zouche, 11th Baron Zouche (1556–1625), having previously served in that same capacity to Sir George Goring, a landowner in Sussex.[a] William was the fourth of seven Randolph children.
Richard and Elizabeth moved to Warwickshire before the birth of their first child in Moreton Morrell in 1647. They lived within the "heart of Parliamentarian Warwickshire" throughout the end of the English Civil Wars. His family were among the Cavaliers who supported the king. In 1657, the last of their children was born in Moreton Morrell. The same year, Elizabeth's father was buried there. Then, the family moved to Dublin. His mother died there around 1669 and his father about two years later.
William's uncle, Henry Randolph (1623–1673), traveled to England and Ireland from Virginia in 1669, and sponsored William to emigrate to Colonial Virginia. He arrived without money and an axe. He arrived in an area replete with others whose families had also supported the king during the Civil War. His family had long been members of the court. William Randolph was in the colony by 12 February 1672 when he appears in the record as witness to a land transaction.
These were men who had fought on the royal side in the Civil War in England and now sought refuge in Virginia. They were known as 'Cavaliers,’ and they gave Virginia a social atmosphere it never subsequently lost.
— H. J. Eckenrode, author of The Randolphs: The Story of a Virginia Family
Coat of Arms of William Randolph
The Chesapeake economy was centered around tobacco, grown within the English mercantile system for export to markets in Britain and Europe. Indentured servants and slaves supported the tobacco industry at that time. By 1674 Randolph imported 12 persons into the colony and thereby earned his first land patent. Over the course of his life, he imported 168 slaves and indentured servants to Virginia. In later years Randolph became a merchant and a planter, and co-owned several ships used to transport tobacco to England and goods back to Virginia. He established several of his sons as merchants and ship captains.
He trained as a lawyer and was a partner with Peter Perry and Edward Hill, Jr. in the law firm Hill, Perry & Randolph in the 1680s. He held multiple official appointments. At the local level, he became clerk of Henrico County Court in 1673 and held the position until he was asked to serve as a justice of the peace in 1683. He also served as sheriff and coroner. Randolph represented Henrico County in every assembly of the House of Burgesses from 1684 to 1698, was Speaker of the House of Burgesses in 1698, and was the Clerk of the House from 1699 to 1702. He fell ill in August 1702 and his son, William, took his place. Randolph resigned the clerkship completely in March 1703.
Randolph was a founder and one of the first trustees of the College of William & Mary.[b] Randolph was a friend of William Byrd, and he served as an advisor to Byrd's sons during their political careers. He is mentioned in one of Byrd's diaries as "Colonel Randolph", his militia title.
Randolph was the founder of a dynasty of individuals who shaped commerce and governmental administration for years. They were "one of the most numerous and wealthiest" of the "first families" of the colony. Between Randolph and his heirs, they acquired tens of thousands of acres, including establishment of eleven large neighboring plantations that were worked by hundreds of slaves.
Turkey Island Plantation
Randolph acquired property by purchase, headright, marital interest and land grant. His early acquisitions were in the neighborhood of Turkey Island, located in the James River about 20 miles (32 km) southeast of present-day Richmond.[c][d] Randolph began living at the Turkey Hill estate, which included the island and surrounding area, in 1670. That residence no longer exists.[e] William Randolph's residence overlooked Turkey Island, and he is buried near the site of the house. Randolph's Turkey Island Plantation became the seat of the Randolph family.
Curles Neck Plantation
In 1676 a Virginia colonist, Nathaniel Bacon, rebelled unsuccessfully against the colonial government and his estate was forfeited. This was Curles Neck Plantation, located near Turkey Island. Randolph made an assessment of the property for Governor Berkeley and was allowed to buy it for his estimated price, adding 1,230 acres (5.0 km2) to Randolph's previous land holdings. The property eventually became the home of William's 5th son Richard Randolph.
Tuckahoe and Dungeness
Around 1700, when Randolph's political career was at its peak, he received land grants to almost 10,000 acres (40 km2) of newly opened land near Richmond; a 3,256-acre (13.18 km2) tract at Tuckahoe Creek and a 5,142-acre (20.81 km2) plot at Westham. This land became the basis of the Tuckahoe[f] and Dungeness Plantations, which were later founded by two of William Randolph's sons.
Marriage and children
Mary Isham Randolph
Randolph married Mary Isham, around 1676. Her father was Henry Isham of Northamptonshire. Her mother, Katherine Banks Royall Isham, was one of the wealthiest women in the colonies for their time. In Henrico County, Virginia, the Ishams owned a large estate in Bermuda Hundred which was across the river from Randolph's Turkey Island estate.
William Randolph had nine children who survived into adulthood:
The sons of William Randolph were each distinguished by the estates left to them. Early generations of Randolphs married into several other gentry families, including Beverley, Bland, Bolling, Dilliard, Fleming, Byrd, Fitzhugh, Carter, Cary, Harrison and Page. Later affiliations included members of the Lewis, Meriwether and Skipwith families.
Randolph died on 11 April 1711 at his Turkey Island plantation.[j] Mary and two of their sons, Thomas and William, were executors of the estate that spelled out the manner in which his numerous land holdings were distributed to his sons. Profits from the Pigeon Swamp plantation were to pay off his debt of £3259 to Micajah Perry III's law firm before title was to be transferred in accordance with the will.
In their wealth and social status, the Randolphs were much like other families of the Chesapeake elite. If anything set them apart it was their participation in the political life of the colony, clearly traceable to William Randolph's example. Randolphs and close relatives formed the predominant political faction in the colonial government during the 18th century, with many members of the elected House of Burgesses and the appointed, and more exclusive, Council.
Most of the Randolphs, like the rest of the Virginia gentry, strongly supported the Revolution. However, John Randolph (son of Sir John), in opposition to both his brother Peyton and son Edmund, remained loyal to Great Britain and left Virginia. Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, and 18-year-old John Marshall was at Valley Forge for the trying winter of 1777–1778.
^Although two of his father Richard's older half-brothers—the poet Thomas Randolph (1605–1634), and poet and Vicar Robert Randolph (1611–1671)--were educated at Cambridge and Oxford respectively (Thomas having attended Westminster School and Robert being "incorporated" , as an Oxford Fellow upon his graduation from Cambridge), they did so largely on scholarship and there are no records of William, his father Richard, or Richard's full siblings (John, 1619 – 1680; Henry, 1623 – 1673, and George, 1627 – 1645) having attended either public school or universities.
^ His son, John Randolph, secured a royal charter for the College on one of several trips to London to conduct business for the colony. While in England in 1730, he conducted business on behalf of the College of William and Mary. Due to his "diplomatic talent shown on that visit, as well as his high standing at the bar in Virginia", he was knighted in tribute.
^This land had been settled for decades, and was held by several owners, from whom he purchased. Possibly his first purchase was 591 acres (2.39 km2) of land on Swift Creek, south of the James.
^Turkey Island received its name from Captain Christopher Newport who explored the James River in May 1607. It was named for the large number of wild turkeys on the island.
^Randolph's grandson, Ryland Randolph, is believed to have been the individual who designed a brick mansion with a large dome on the estate in the late 1760s. The residence was ruined during the Civil War. Its buried foundation has been the subject of an archaeological study.
^Tuckahoe plantation was named for the neighboring creek. Called Tochawhoughe by Captain John Smith, Tuckahoe was the Native American name for an edible water plant. Tuckahoe is the only remaining intact plantation of William's sons.
^William Randolph II had seven children. Two of his earliest children, Beverely and William, died very young and their names were given to older children.
^Thomas' wife was Judith Fleming. There was a belief among some that Judith Churchill of Middlesex was Thomas' wife. However, there are a series of records that show that his wife was Judith Fleming: 1) A marriage record shows that Thomas Randolph of Henrico County married Judith Fleming on October 16, 1712. 2) She married Nicholas Davies in 1733, which was witnessed by the bride's brothers, John and Tarleton Fleming. 3) Two deeds showed that William Randolph III's mother was Judith Fleming Davies.: 32–37
The theory that Thomas married Judith Churchill by historian William Edward Railey is now known to be incorrect. There was confusion about family members named Judith; one was Judith Fleming, married to Thomas Randolph; and the other was Judith Wormeley (1694-1716), step-daughter of Col. William Churchill, married to Mann Page in 1712, and mother of Maria Judith (Page) Randolph.: 32–38
^ abRichard Randolph and Elizabeth Randolph were both ancestors of John Randolph of Roanoke. Richard was his grandfather; Elizabeth was his great-grandmother.
^His date of death is also stated as or 21 April 1711.
^Louis A. Knafla, 'Zouche, Edward la, eleventh Baron Zouche (1556–1625)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004); W. H. Kelliher, 'Randolph, Thomas (bap. 1605, d. 1635)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004)
^Virginia Museum of History; Richmond, Culture 428 N. Arthur Ashe Boulevard; Box 7311, Virginia 23220 Mail: P. O.; Monday–Saturday, 23221-0311; Sunday, 10-5; 10–5 (14 June 2013). "Randolph Family". Virginia Museum of History & Culture. Retrieved 26 December 2019.((cite web)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
^"Tuckahoe". Thomas Jefferson's Monticello. Retrieved 3 May 2021.
^Railey, W.E. (September 1918). Morton, Jennie C. (ed.). "Notes and Corrections of the Railey Genealogy". The Register of the Kentucky State Historical Society. Frankfort, Kentucky: The State Journal Company. 16 (48): 47–49. Retrieved 12 November 2010.