Friday, April 26, 2013

Williamsburg: Part 4

St. George Tucker and Peyton Randolph Houses

St. George Tucker House, central section
 Born in Bermuda in 1752, St. George Tucker sailed to Virginia to study law under George Wythe at the College of William and Mary in 1772, and later succeeded Wythe as law professor at the college.

The rambling house Tucker settled in on Nicholson Street was much like his family. Married twice, with nine children and five stepchildren, Tucker purchased a one-story center-passage house on Palace Street, moved it to its current location facing Market Square, added a second story, built a shed addition to the rear, and added wings to both sides with a kitchen on the west (left) wing connected by a covered way.

West wing of St. George Tucker House with kitchen on left

Although best known for editing Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England for American law students, Tucker was also an inventer. He constructed Williamsburg's first bathroom by piping heated water to a copper bathtub in a converted dairy house in his backyard, and invented a steam-powered water pump and an "earth closet" that removed "night soil" through the wall of his house. The Tucker house also boasted Williamsburg's first Christmas tree in 1842.

Master bedroom in East wing

Tucker descendents lived in the house until 1993. The St. George Tucker House currently serves as a hospitality house.

Also on Nicholson Street facing Market Square is the Peyton Randolph House.

Peyton Randolph House on Market Square

Born in 1721 to Sir John and Lady Susannah Randolph, Peyton continued his father's legacy of public service. The only Virginia-born colonial to be knighted, Sir John purchased two wooden houses 36 feet apart on Market Square and joined them with a center building. The house was inherited by second son Peyton.

While the center and western (left) sections connected, there was no passage to the east (right) section, which may have been an office or rental property.

Outbuildings in rear (north) of the house included a two-story kitchen, coach house, stable for twelve horses, and a dairy.

The kitchen is connected to the house by a covered way

The Randolph family is one of those First Families of Virginia from whom everyone else either descends, marries, or both. Thomas Jefferson's mother, Jane Randolph, was a cousin of Peyton Randolph. Peyton's wife Elizabeth "Betty" Harrison was the sister of Benjamin Harrison V, signer of the Declaration of Independence. Other relatives included Chief Justice John Marshall, General Light-Horse Harry Lee, and General Robert E. Lee.

Peyton Randolph studied law at London's Middle Temple. Returning to Virginia, he served as the colony's attorney general, presided as Speaker of the House of Burgesses during the years leading up to the  Revolution, and then as Chairman of the Virgina Conventions. He served as the first and third President of the Continental Congress, being succeeded by John Hancock. He died in October 1775.

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