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Bordley, John Beale (11 February 1727–26 January 1804), agricultural theorist and lawyer, was born in Annapolis, Maryland, the son of Thomas Bordley, a lawyer, and Ariana Vanderheyden Frisby. At the age of twenty-one, Bordley inherited land from his father. In 1751, after his marriage in that year to Margaret Chew, this property was combined with the private fortune of his wife, and he devoted considerable effort to tending his estate near Joppa close to Baltimore. The couple had four children. Bordley also studied law in the office of his brother Stephen, and in 1753 he was appointed prothonotary (chief clerk) of Baltimore County; he simultaneously established a law practice that encompassed Cecil County, Harford County, and Baltimore County. In 1765 Bordley resigned his clerkship in protest of the Stamp Act and moved his law practice to Baltimore, where he soon attracted such renown that in 1766 he was appointed judge of the Provincial Court of Maryland and in 1768 a member of the commission to determine the line between Maryland and Delaware....

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Breckinridge, John (02 December 1760–14 December 1806), lawyer, planter, and statesman, was born on a farm near Staunton, Virginia, the son of Robert Breckinridge, a farmer and member of the local gentry, and Lettice Preston. While John was still a boy the family moved to the frontier part of Augusta County that became Botetourt County. Determined to acquire an education, John entered William and Mary College in late 1780 or early 1781. His attendance was irregular, but when he left the school in 1784 he had studied for some two years, much of it under the guidance of ...

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Fitzhugh, William (1651–21 October 1701), lawyer and planter, was born in Bedford, England, and was baptized there on 10 January 1651, the son of Henry Fitzhugh, a woolen draper, and Mary King, the daughter of the vicar of Tempsford in Bedfordshire. The Fitzhughs had been a prominent middle-class family in Bedford for many generations. William received a classical grammar school education in England and read law in the office of an English lawyer before emigrating to the Northern Neck of Virginia. The exact date of his settling in Virginia is unknown, but it was sometime before February 1674. Later that year he married Sarah Tucker of Westmoreland County, Virginia. She was eleven years of age and a member of a prosperous and well-connected family. They would have six children....

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Gibbons, Thomas (15 December 1757–16 May 1826), planter, lawyer, and steamship owner, was born near Savannah, Georgia, the son of Joseph Gibbons and Hannah Martin, planters. Gibbons was schooled at home and in Charleston, South Carolina, where he also read law. He married Ann Heyword, but the date of the marriage is unknown. They had three children. Throughout his life Gibbons demonstrated a determined spirit. Contemporaries described him as a “high liver,” possessing a “strong mind, strong passions, strong prejudices, and strong self-will” (Halsted, pp. 16–17)....

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Goldsborough, Robert (03 December 1733–22 December 1788), lawyer and planter, was born in Cambridge, Dorchester County, Maryland, the son of Charles Goldsborough, a lawyer, legislator, and large landowner, and his first wife Elizabeth Ennalls. When Robert was five and a half years old, his father married Elizabeth Dickinson, half sister of ...

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Livingston, Robert Robert ( August 1718–09 December 1775), landowner, attorney, and politician, was born in New York, the only son and heir of Robert Livingston and Margaret Howarden. His father, a younger son of manor lord Robert Livingston, was given a portion of land, called “Clermont,” at the southern end of Livingston Manor. In 1742 Livingston married Margaret Beekman, the heir of Colonel ...

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John Young Mason. Daguerreotype from the studio of Mathew B. Brady. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-109927).

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Mason, John Young (18 April 1799–03 October 1859), planter-lawyer, politician, and diplomat, was born at “Homestead,” the family plantation in Greensville County, Virginia, the son of Edmunds Mason and Frances Ann Young, both descendants of landed southern Tidewater families. An excellent student, young Mason graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1816, read law with Judge Griffin Stith in Southampton County, and then attended the law school of Judge ...

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Pillow, Gideon Johnson (08 June 1806–08 October 1878), soldier, lawyer, and planter, was born in a log cabin in Williamson (now Maury) County, Tennessee, the son of Gideon Pillow, a pioneer planter, and Annie Payne. Gideon graduated from the University of Nashville in 1827 and, after reading law for three years in the offices of two judges, was admitted to the Tennessee bar in 1830. He hung out his shingle in Columbia, and, possessed of a “quick mind and a powerful speaking voice,” his civil and criminal practice flourished. In 1831 Pillow married Mary Elizabeth Martin. The union was blessed with ten children. The Martins were an affluent Middle Tennessee family, and Mary was a good manager, capable of overseeing family and business interests during her husband’s long absences from home....

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Charles Cotesworth Pinckney. Courtesy of the National Archives (NWDNS-148-CC-42-6).