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Edmund Pendleton

Birthplace: Caroline, Virginia, USA, Virginia, United States
Death: October 23, 1803 (78-86)
Richmond, Virginia, USA, Richmond, Virginia, United States
Place of Burial: Edmundsbury, 8 miles south-east of Bowling Green, Virginia; In 1907 reinterred Bruton Parish Church Cemetery, Williamsburg, Virginia
Immediate Family:

Son of Henry Pendleton, III and Mary Pendleton
Husband of Elizabeth Pendleton and Sarah Pendleton
Father of Infant and Edmund Pendleton, Jr.
Brother of James Pendleton; Philip Pendleton; Isabella Gaines; Nathaniel Pendleton, I; Mary Gaines and 2 others
Half brother of Sarah Elizabeth Clay; Elizabeth Campbell; Edward Watkins, Jr.; Mary Taylor Anderson; Martha Mosely and 2 others

Occupation: Judge, Statesman, President Of The Virginia Convention 1775-1776, VA House of Burg. 1752-75;U.S. Congress 1774; VA Supreme Ct. 1777
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Edmund Pendleton

Edmund Pendleton (September 9, 1721 – October 23, 1803) was a Virginia politician, lawyer and judge, active in the American Revolutionary War.

Early years

Pendleton was born in Caroline County to Henry Pendleton and Mary Bishop Taylor. When he was 14 years old, he was bound out as an apprentice to the Clerk of the Caroline County Court. In 1737, Pendleton was made clerk of the vestry of St. Mary’s Parish in Caroline and with the small profits made there he procured a few law books. In 1740, he was made clerk of the Caroline Court-Marshall.


Edmund was married twice. The first time was on January 21, 1741 to Betty Roy, who died in childbirth November 17, 1742. The infant son also died shortly thereafter. His second marriage was on January 20, 1745 to Sarah Pollard, daughter of Joseph Pollard and Priscilla Hoomes. Edmund and Sarah are known to have had at least two children, Edmund Pendleton Junior and Mildred Pendleton (Page 1883, p. 223). Pendleton was also involved in the education of at least two nephews, John Penn (signer of the Declaration of Independence) and John Taylor of Caroline, U.S. Senator. His nephew, James Madison would become U.S. President.


Washington, Henry & Pendleton going to the First Congress, lithograph, Henry Bryan Hall He was licensed to practice law in April of 1741 and his success before the county courts caused him to become a member of the General Court in October 1745. He was appointed a Justice of the Peace for Caroline County in 1751. He gave a legal education to his nephew John Penn, later one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. He helped raise and school his fatherless nephew John Taylor of Caroline, who went on to be a U.S. Senator. From 1752-1776 he was a member of the House of Burgesses. In May 1766, Pendleton discovered the John Robinson Estate Scandal which involved his mentor. Pendleton was on the Virginia Committee of Correspondence in 1773 and was a delegate to Continental Congress from Virginia in 1774.

Pendleton served as President of the Virginia Committee of Safety from August 16, 1775 to July 5, 1776 (effectively serving as governor of the colony) and as President of the Virginia Convention which authorized Virginia's delegates to propose a resolution to move for the break from Britain and creation of the Declaration of Independence. The Convention also created the Virginia Declaration of Rights which inlfuenced the language of the Declaration of Independence. Pendleton is credited with modifying the statement of universal rights of all men in Virginia's declaration into a form which could be supported by slave owners, easing its passage.

After the Declaration, he became the first Speaker of Virginia's new House of Delegates although a fall from a horse in March of 1777 dislocated his hip and caused him to miss the first session. This fall crippled him so that he used crutches the rest of his life. He, along with Thomas Jefferson and George Wythe, revised Virginia's law code. He was appointed Judge of the High Court of Chancery in 1777. When Virginia created a Supreme Court of Appeals in 1778, Pendleton was appointed its first president where he served until his death. In 1788 he was unanimously appointed president of the Virginia Ratifying Convention.

Pendleton was buried at his estate, Edmundsbury. In 1907 he was moved from this location and buried inside Bruton Parish Chapel in what is now Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia.

Call for Declaration of Independence

Sent to Virginia Delegation to the Continental Congress and Richard Henry Lee to move for Independence Lee Resolution June 7, 1776. Resolutions of the Virginia Convention Calling upon Congress for a Declaration of Independence

"Wednesday May 15, 1776 Present 112 Members

For as much as all the endeavors of the United Colonies, by the most decent representations and petitions to the king and parliament of Great Britain to restore peace and security to America under the British government and a re-union with that people upon just and liberal terms instead of a redress of grievances, have produced from an imperious and vindictive administration increased insult oppression and a vigorous attempt to effect our total destruction. By a late act, all these colonies are declared to be in rebellion, and out of the protection of the British crown our properties subjected to confiscation , our people, when captivated, compelled to join in the murder and plunder of their relations and countrymen, and all former rapine and oppression of Americans declared legal and just. Fleets and armies are raised, and the aid of foreign troops engaged to assist these destructive purposes: The king’s representatives in the colony hath not only withheld all the powers of government from operating for our safety, but, having retired on board an armed ship, is carrying on a piratical and savage war against us tempting our slaves by every artifice to resort to him, and training and employing them against their masters. In this state of extreme danger, we have no alternative left but an abject submission to the will of those over-bearing tyrants, or a total separation from the crown and government of Great Britain, uniting and exerting the strength of all America for defense, and forming alliances with foreign powers for commerce and aid in war: Wherefore, appealing to the SEARCHER OF HEARTS for the sincerity of former declarations, expressing our desire to preserve a connection with that nation, and that we are driven from that inclination by their wicked councils, and the eternal laws of self-preservation,

Resolved unanimously, that the delegates appointed to represent this colony in General Congress be instructed to propose to that respectable body to declare the United Colonies free and independent states, absolved from all allegiance to, or dependence upon, the crown or parliament of Great Britain; and that they give the assent of this colony to such declaration, and to whatever measures may be thought proper and necessary by the Congress for forming foreign alliances and a confederation of the colonies, at such time, and in the manner, as to them shall seem best: Provided, that the power of forming government for, and the regulations of the internal concerns of each colony, be left to the respective colonial legislatures.

Resolved unanimously, that a committee be appointed to prepare a Declaration of Rights, and such a plan of government as will be most likely to maintain peace and order in this colony, and secure substantial and equal liberty to the people.

Minutes from Congress, October 1803

Mourning For Edmund Pendleton

Mr. Eustis rose and observed that within a few days past the House were called upon to take notice of an event which perhaps would be more interesting to posterity than to the present generation; the death of one of those illustrious patriots who, by a life devoted to his country, had bequeathed a name and an example to posterity which he would not attempt to describe. He had information that another of these sages, Edmund Pendleton, of Virginia, had paid the last tribute to nature.

On this occasion he begged leave to offer to the house the following resolution:

Resolved, That this House, impressed with a lively sense of the important services rendered to his country by Edmund Pendleton, deceased, will wear a badge of mourning for thirty days, as an emblem of their veneration for his illustrious character, and of their regret that another star is fallen from the splendid constellation of virtue and talents which guided the people of the United States in their struggle for independence.

The resolution was immediately taken up and agreed to - Ayes 77, Nayes 0

Thomas Jefferson said of Pendleton: "Taken in all he was the ablest man in debate I ever met".

Hon. Edmund PENDLETON Judge

19 Sep 1721 - 23 Oct 1803

ID Number: I3594

Edmund Pendleton

   * TITLE: Hon.
   * OCCUPATION: Statesman, President Of The Virginia Convention 1775-1776
   * RESIDENCE: Caroline Co.and Richmond, VA
   * BIRTH: 19 Sep 1721, Caroline County, VA
   * DEATH: 23 Oct 1803, Richmond. VA
   * BURIAL: Edmundsbury, 8 mi se of Bowling Green, Va.; in 1907 reinterred Bruton Parish Church Cem., Williamsburg, VA
   * RESOURCES: See: [S11] [S157] [S172] [S179] [S199] [S500] [S641] [S721] [S747] [S979] [S1635] [S2103] 

Father: Henry PENDLETON

Mother: Mary Bishop TAYLOR

Family 1 : Elizabeth ROY

   * MARRIAGE: 21 Jan 1740, VA 

Family 2 : Sarah POLLARD

   * MARRIAGE: 20 Jun 1743, VA -0011.html

Pendleton, Edmund (1721-1803) Uncle of John Penn and Nathaniel Pendleton. Born in Caroline County, Va., September 9, 1721. Delegate to Continental Congress from Virginia, 1774; member of Virginia state legislature, 1776; state court judge, 1777. Died October 23, 1803. Original interment at Edmundsbury Graveyard, Bowling Green, Va.; reinterment in 1907 at Bruton Parish Church Cemetery, Williamsburg, Va.

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Edmund Pendleton ú1721_1803ú

Member of the Virginia House of Burgesses

Born: September 9, 1721 in: Caroline County, Virginia

Education: Informal (Lawyer)

Work: Licensed to practice Law, 1741; Admitted to practice in general court, 1745; Appointed a Justice of Caroline County, 1751; Member of the Virginia House of Burgesses, 1752-1776; Represented Virginia at the Continental Congress, 1774-75; President of the Virginia Committee of Safety, 1775; President of Virginia Conventions, 1775-76; first Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, appointed reviser of the statute laws of Virginia, 1776; First Judge of the High Court of Chancery, 1777; President of the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, 1778-1803; President of the Virginia Ratification Convention, 1788; Refused appointment to the Federal judiciary, 1788. Died: October 23, 1803.

"Edmund Pendleton was another sterling example of public service to a fledgling nation. Born to a poor family & a widowed mother, he was a bright young man who displayed a maturity and sense of duty at a early age. Pendleton received little in the way of formal education, was apprenticed to Colonel Benjamin Robinson, Clerk of Court of Caroline County, at age thirteen, and began practicing law at age twenty. He was admitted to the Virginia Bar in 1745 and was made Justice of the Peace for his native county in 1751. The following year he was elected to the House of Burgesses and then elected a representative to each of five successive Virginia conventions. He was elected president of the last two. He attended the Continental Congress' of 1774 and 1775 while serving as President of Virginia Committee of Safety.

In March of 1777 Pendleton fell from his horse and dislocated his hip. This crippled him for the rest of his life though he continued to serve with the aid of crutches. He had been elected Speaker of the first House of Delegates the preceding year and though unable to attend the first 1777 session, the speakership was held for him until he recovered enough to return the following September. When the Delegates established the Court of Chancery in 1778, Pendleton was nominated as a judge and then elected as the President of that Court in 1779. He was further elevated to the Supreme court of Appeals in 1788. The Virginia Convention to ratify the Federal Constitution met in 1788 with Pendleton again representing his county; that convention too, elected him President. Known always as a modest and honorable man, Edmund Pendleton spent his entire life in service to the people of Virginia. In 1788, Washington appointed him to the new Federal Judiciary, a job which he declined due to advancing age. He continued to serve as the President of the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals until his death in 1803." -Sources: EPB.c1996-97 by LeftJustified Publiks. All rights reserved.

Edmund Pendleton Letter dated 1754 ( From the Library of Congress )

Edmund Pendleton Letter to George Washington, Dated 1771 ( From the Library of Congress )

Edmund Pendleton Letter to George Washington, Dated 1778 ( From the Library of Congress )

Edmund Pendleton Letter to Thomas Jefferson, Dated July 1776 ( From the Lib of Congress )

Edmund Pendleton Letter to Thomas Jefferson, Dated July 1776 ( From the Lib of Congress )

"PENDLETON, Edmund, 1721-1803: PENDLETON, Edmund, (uncle of Nathaniel Pendleton and John Penn), a Delegate from Virginia; born in Caroline County, Va., September 9, 1721; completed preparatory studies; clerk, Caroline County Court, in 1740; studied law; was admitted to the bar in 1741 and practiced; justice of the peace in 1751; member of the Virginia House of Burgesses 1752-1774; member of the committee of correspondence in 1773 and of the provincial convention in 1774; Member of the Continental Congress in 1774 and 1775; president of the committee of safety in 1775; president of the Virginia convetions in 1775 and 1776; member of the State house of delegates in 1776 and 1777; judge of the general court and the court of chancery in 1777; presiding judge of the court of appeals in 1779; member and president of the Virginia ratification convention in 1788; died in Richmond, Va., October 23, 1803; interment at Edmundsbury, eight miles southeast of Bowling Green, Va.; in 1907 was reinterred in Bruton Parish Church Cemetery, Williamsburg, Va.

Bibliography: DAB; Mays, David J. Edmund Pendleton, 1721-1803: A Biography. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1952; Pendleton, Edmund. The Letters and Papers of Edmund Pendleton, 1734-1803. 2 vols. Edited by David J. Mays. Charlottesville, Va.: University Press of Virginia, 1967."

"Volume IV Chapter X The Pendleton Family. Third Generation.

The seven children of the first settlers started on a career of multiplication befitting a new country; so that, as late as 1803, if Judge Edmund Pendleton had been in the prime of life, and the most active man in Virginia, it would have been a very serious, if not an impossible, undertaking to have identified and recorded the names of half of them; whilst he was, in fact, a man of upwards of eighty years of age when he died. He had, for sixty years, without the intermission of a single year, been laboriously engaged in professional and official duties, usually of great importance. He was for the last twenty years of his life most painfully disabled for any physical activity, by reason of an accident which made him a cripple, and consigned him to crutches for life. So he started his own, one of the three male lines in the first generation, and then named the females only until they married into other families. Hence, he calls it simply "Chronology," with that precision of language for which tradition reports him as being proverbial."

"Studied law with his cousin, John Penn (signer of the Declaration of Independence)

Member of the House of Burgesses

Delegate to the First Continental Congress, 1775

President of the Conventions of Dec. 1775 and May 1776

Helped Jefferson draft the Declaration of Independence

President of the Court of Appeals 1779-1803

President of the Virginia Convention which ratified the Constitution

First Chief Justice of the State of Virginia

Friend and correspondent of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison

Edmund wrote the Resolutions adopting a Declaration of Independence, which were included almost verbatim afterwards in the Declaration by Jefferson.

Pendleton Co., Virginia, is named for him -- it was created in 1788 from parts of Augusta, Hardy, and Rockingham counties."


Mays, David John Edmund Pendleton 1721 - 1803 A Biography Vol 2

  1. Bookseller Notes Price

1 Swamp Fox Books

via ChooseBooks

[United States] Cambridge, Massachusetts; Harvard University Press; 1952; First Edition; 8vo; Hard Cover; 9 1/2" x 6 1/2". 462pp. Red cloth binding, with map printed on end papers. Includes b/w illustrations, bibliography and index. Ex-library with usual markings, pocket cleanly removed. Book has: light spotting along edges, creases on a few pages, shelf wear. This is the second volume of May's biography of Edmund Pendleton, a man who helped revise the statue Laws of Virginia and who investigated the ... $18.43

2 Swamp Fox Books via [United States] Publisher: Harvard University Press, 1952

Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1952. 9 1/2" x 6 1/2". 462pp. Red cloth binding, with map printed on end papers. Includes b/w illustrations, bibliography and index. Ex-library with usual markings, pocket cleanly removed. Book has: light spotting along edges, creases on a few pages, shelf wear. This is the second volume of May's biography of Edmund Pendleton, a man who helped revise the statue Laws of Virginia and who investigated the extraordinary financial scandal of ... $18.62

3 T. A. Borden Books via Used Book Central Near Fine in Near Fine dj americana Harvard University Press 1952 1st light edge foxing, light soil & wear to cream dust jackets Virginia BOOKS015430I $100.00


@R500593813@ Ancestry Family Trees Online publication - Provo, UT, USA: Original data: Family Tree files submitted by Ancestry members.


Ancestry Family Tree

(Friend of George Washington and drafter of 1st Virginia State C

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Edmund Pendleton's Timeline

September 9, 1721
Caroline, Virginia, USA, Virginia, United States
April 18, 1774
- 1776
Age 53
Statesman, President of the Virginia Convention
October 23, 1803
Age 82
Richmond, Virginia, USA, Richmond, Virginia, United States
June 16, 1880
Age 82
January 27, 1886
Age 82
July 22, 1946
Age 82