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date: 21 April 2021

Wythe, Georgelocked

(1726?–08 June 1806)
  • Robert Kirtland

Extract

Wythe, George (1726?–08 June 1806), jurist and signer of the Declaration of Independence, was born probably at “Chesterville,” the family plantation on Back River, Elizabeth City County, Virginia, the son of Thomas Wythe and Margaret Walker, planters. His father died in 1729, and his mother, reputedly a remarkably literate woman, is given credit for George’s early education and for inspiring his lifelong pursuit of learning. It seems that he was largely self-educated; there is no evidence for nineteenth-century assertions that he received some formal schooling at the College of William and Mary or the Eaton-Symmes Free School in Hampton. In his midteens he entered a clerkship to study law with Stephen Dewey, his uncle by marriage. In 1746 he was admitted to practice in county courts, the bottom rung of the profession. Perhaps through another family connection he began practice with Zachary and John Lewis of Spotsylvania County. In December 1747 he married Zachary Lewis’s daughter Anne Lewis, who died the following August....

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