Who was Peyton Randolph and what part did he play in our American history?
History tells us who George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Patrick Henry were and what part they played in Virginia history and the American Revolutionary War – but who was Peyton Randolph? Well, let us enlighten you.
Peyton was born ca. 1721. He was the cousin of Thomas Jefferson, attended the College of William and Mary and was the attorney general of Virginia Colony. Peyton Randolph was elected in 1766 as the Speaker of the House of Burgesses in Williamsburg and, before he died in 1775, he was the president of the first and second Continental Congress. Some say that, had Peyton not died before the end of the American Revolutionary War, he, not George Washington, might have been elected as our first President of the United States. He married Betty Harrison in 1746 and they had no children.
The British were not happy after he presided over the Continental Congress in 1775, and made plans to arrest and hang him. October 23, 1775, Peyton died of an “apoplectic stroke” and was first buried at Christ’s Church in Philadelphia. His nephew, Edmund Randolph, brought his remains to Williamsburg Virginia in 1776, and he was interred in the family crypt in the Chapel at the College of William and Mary where his remains rest today. Peyton Randolph was the first to be called “Father of Our Country”, chaired the first meeting of the delegates of 13 colonies at Philadelphia in 1774, and chaired the second in 1775. His home is one of the original 88 buildings still standing today and open daily for tours in Colonial Williamsburg.