William Grayson (c.1740 - 1790) MP

‹ Back to Grayson surname



0 1 1
Adds more complete birth place.

View William Grayson's complete profile:

  • See if you are related to William Grayson
  • Request to view William Grayson's family tree


Birthplace: Prince William County, Province of Virginia
Death: Died in Dumfries, Prince William County, Virginia, United States
Occupation: 1st Senator for Virginia (1789-1790)
Managed by: Tammy Swingle (Tucker)
Last Updated:

About William Grayson

A Patriot of the American Revolution for VIRGINIA with the rank of COLONEL. DAR Ancestor # A047840

William Grayson (1740 – March 12, 1790) was a soldier, lawyer, and statesman from Virginia. He was one of the first two U.S. Senators from Virginia, and belonged to the Anti-Federalist faction.

Grayson was born to parents Benjamin Grayson and Susannah Monroe Grayson at Belle Aire Plantation in what is now Woodbridge, Virginia. He attended the University of Pennsylvania, graduating in 1760. He attended university in Great Britain, but it is uncertain whether he attended Oxford University or the University of Edinburgh. He practiced law in Dumfries, Virginia, until the American Revolutionary War began.

Serving as an aide-de-camp to George Washington, Grayson rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel. In 1777, he recruited a regiment for the Continental Army known as Grayson's Regiment, and served as its colonel through the Philadelphia campaign. In 1778, he served on a commission dealing with war prisoners, and in 1779 he resigned his military commission to serve on the Congressional Board of War. In 1781 he returned to Dumfries to practice law. Like many Continental Army officers, he was an original member of the Society of the Cincinnati.

Grayson was a delegate to the Confederation Congress from 1785 to 1787. As an Anti-Federalist (one of the men who in Virginia called themselves "Republicans"), he joined George Mason, James Monroe, and Patrick Henry in opposing ratification of the United States Constitution at the Virginia Ratification Convention in 1788. In that Convention, Grayson argued that the proposed constitution was neither fish nor fowl—neither strong enough for a national government nor decentralized enough for a federal one — and thus eventually would either degenerate into a despotism or result in the dissolution of the Union. Although the Anti-Federalists lost that battle, Patrick Henry, Virginia's leading Anti-Federalist, rewarded Grayson by arranging his election to the first United States Senate. Grayson served from March 4, 1789 until his death on March 12, 1790. He and Richard Henry Lee were the only members of the first Senate who had opposed ratification, and so they were unhappy (but not surprised) when the Bill of Rights omitted any provisions making serious corrections to the division of powers between the central government and the states. Grayson continued to believe that the Philadelphia Convention had struck precisely the wrong balance.



view all

Sen. William Grayson (Anti-Fed - Virginia)'s Timeline

Prince William County, Province of Virginia
Age 39
April 16, 1780
Age 40
Prince William County, Virginia, United States
Age 44
Fauquier Co.,VA
Age 45
Spotsylvania Co., Va
March 12, 1788
Age 48
Virginia, United States
March 12, 1790
Age 50
Dumfries, Prince William County, Virginia, United States
Dumfries, Prince William County, Virginia, United States