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Papers of the Randolph Family of Edgehill and Wilson Cary Nicholas

Identifier: MSS 5533

Scope and Content

This collection consists of the papers of the Randolph Family of Edgehill, (commonly called the Edgehill-Randolph Papers) and the Wilson Cary Nicholas papers, ca. 787 items (6 Hollinger boxes, 2.5 linear shelf feet), ca. 1765-1869, and undated.


  • Creation: 1765 - 1869


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

Materials in this collection, which were created in 1765-1869, are in the public domain. Permission to publish or reproduce is not required.

Biographical Note

Wilson Cary Nicholas (January 31, 1761-October 10, 1820) was an American politician who served in the U.S. Senate from 1799 to 1804 and was the Governor of Virginia 1814 to 1816. Nicholas was born in Williamsburg, Virginia where he attended the College of William and Mary. According to Nicholas's entry in the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress , he served in the American Revolutionary War as commander of George Washington's Life Guard until the unit disbanded in 1783. This appears to be an error: his entry in American National Biography states that "he commanded Virginia volunteer units from the fall of 1780 until the following fall, but there is no evidence that he was actually involved in battlefield action." He married Margaret Smith of Baltimore, Maryland, and settled at "Warren" in Albemarle County where he became a member of the Virginia House of Delegates 1784-1789 and a delegate to the ratifying convention of 1788 which approved the Federal Constitution.

Robert Carter Nicholas (1728-1780) was the nephew of Wilson Cary Nicholas and the son of Dr. George Nicholas and Elizabeth Carter Burwell Nicholas (widow of Nathaniel Burwell) of Williamsburg, Virginia. His father migrated to Virginia; his mother was the daughter of wealthy Virginia landowner, Robert "King" Carter of Corotoman . Born January 28, 1728/9, both parents were dead by 1734. He studied law at the College of William and Mary and practiced in the general court under the royal government. He served in the House of Burgesses, 1755-61 as the representative from York County, and from 1766-1775 as the representative of James City County, and was Treasurer for the colony of Virginia, 1766-1775. He was a member of the Virginia General Assembly from 1776 to 1778 and in 1779 was appointed to the high court of chancery. Nicholas married Anne Cary, daughter of Wilson Cary of Warwick County in 1751 and the couple had four daughters and six sons.

George Nicholas, born in Williamsburg about 1754, was the son of Robert Carter Nicholas, treasurer of Virginia from 1766 to 1776, and a great grandson of Robert "King" Carter. He attended the College of William and Mary and became a noted attorney. Nicholas was a lieutenant colonel in the Continental army but spent much of his time in Baltimore and did not participate in any significant engagements. During service in the House of Delegates in 1778-1779, 1781-1782, 1783, and from 1786 to 1788, the last three terms representing Albemarle County, Nicholas became friendly with James Madison. Elected to the Virginia Ratification Convention of 1788, Nicholas followed Madison's lead and spoke in favor of ratification of the proposed new Constitution. Soon after the convention, he moved west to Kentucky, where he had a distinguished career as an attorney, as a leading member of the Kentucky Constitutional Convention of 1792, and as the first attorney general of the state and professor of law at Transylvania University. Nicholas wrote important letters on western affairs to Madison and to Thomas Jefferson, which George Washington also read, and tried to convince the federal government to increase its military presence in the West to protect settlers from Indian incursions and to secure westerners' access to the Mississippi River. George Nicholas died in Lexington, Kentucky, on July 25, 1799.

Sources: Robert Carter Nicholas, Sr. (2009, September 8) In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia . Retrieved 13:10, October 15, 2009, from title=Robert_Carter_Nicholas,_Sr.&oldid=312497296

Library of Virginia website:


2.5 Cubic Feet (6 Hollinger document boxes and one oversize box) : about 787 items

Language of Materials



The papers are arranged in three series:

Series: I) Wilson Cary Nicholas Papers Subseries A: Correspondence (Boxes 1-3) Subseries B: Financial, Legal, and Miscellaneous Papers (Boxes 3-4) Subseries C: Militia Papers (Box 4)

Series: II) Randolph Family Papers (Boxes 5-6)

Series: III) Drawings, Surveys, etc. (OS Edgehill-Randolph Box).

Acquisition Information

This collection was originally loaned to the University of Virginia Library Special Collections Department by Mrs. Page Kirk, Miss Olivia Taylor, and Miss Margaret Taylor, "Lochlyn," Charlottesville, Virginia, on January 29, 1957. Shares held by the Misses Margaret and Olivia Taylor were bequeathed to Special Collections on March 25, 1986. The share held by Mrs. Kirk's daughter, Mrs. Mary Mann Moyer, was given to Special Collections on January 5, 1987.

Separated Materials

All items pertaining to Thomas Jefferson have been transferred to the Thomas Jefferson Papers and are described in the online Calendar of the Jefferson Papers of the University of Virginia: Multiple numbers. A search for "5533" should find all the Jefferson items formerly in this collection, almost 400 items.

Content Warning

This collection contains material which discusses enslavement and may contain racist language. The purpose of this note is to give users the opportunity to decide whether they need or want to view these materials, or at least, to mentally or emotionally prepare themselves to view the materials.


Funding for enhanced description and digitization of this collection was graciously provided by John C.R. Taylor, III.

Metadata Rights Declaration

This record is made available under a Universal 1.0 Public Domain Dedication Creative Commons license. The Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library of the University of Virginia makes its bibliographic records and the metadata contained therein available for public use under the CC0 1.0 Public Domain Designation.

A Guide to the Papers of the Randolph Family of Edgehill and Wilson Cary Nicholas
Katie Rojas
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2022-09: Finding aid transferred from ARVAS to ArchivesSpace and reparative language updates made by Katie Rojas.

Repository Details

Part of the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library Repository

Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library
P.O. Box 400110
University of Virginia
Charlottesville Virginia 22904-4110 United States