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Burnley Family papers

Identifier: MSS 15926

Scope and Contents

This collection of Burnley Family letters, 3 cubic feet, contain family correspondence and papers of a prominent Albemarle County, Charlottesvile, Virginia family from 1808 to 1964 which include civil war and slave documents, military papers of Company F, 7th Infantry orders, teaching papers of Samuel Goodman Burnley, political letters about Harry Flood Byrd, writings of William Samuel Burnley, and letters reflecting the turn of the century family life, friends, church services, and family and local news.

Also included is University of Virginia Law professor John B. Minor's advice to student William Samuel Burnley (1890); and a record book for Rockbridge Academy (1841) and a yearbook for Charlottesville High School, 1924.

Correspondents include Sarah (Sallie) Stoddard Wood Burnley, Samuel Goodman Burnley, Martha Caroline Burnley and her siblings, William Henry Burnley, Emma C. Dyson Burnley, James Nathaniel Burnley, William Samuel Burnley, N.B. Early, Byron Burnley, John Nathaniel Burnley, and James Henry Burnley.


  • Creation: 1808-1964

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions.

Biographical / Historical

The Burnleys were a well-known family in nineteenth-century Albemarle County, Virginia. Nathaniel Burnley (1786-1860) owned the Hydraulic Mills complex as well as Rio Mills on the South Fork of the Rivanna River. The Burnley family may have originally descended from [John Burnley 1760-1810 of England] who bought land in Albemarle County, Virginia.

Nathaniel Burnley (the patriarch-great grandfather in this collection) married Sarah (Sallie) Sutton Drury Wood(1795-1879) in 1811. They lived near Stony Point and owned a tavern. In 1829, Nathaniel Burnley and his partner, Rice W. Wood bought the Rio Hydraulic Mills, which was at the junction of Ivy Creek and the South Rivanna River.

Nathaniel and Sarah Burnley's children were Martha Caroline Burnley (1820-1904), Emily (Emma) Garth (1824-1896) (married to Garland Garth), Lucy Vest (1828-1903), Horace Buckner Burnley (1822-1891), Sarah Frances Burnley (1831-1901), Cornelia Rice Railey (1834-1896), Drury Wood Burnley (1826-1906), James Fendall Burnley), Dr. William Rice Burnley (1815-1842), and Mary Jane Garth (1818-1890) (married to Burwell Garth). Martha Caroline Burnley married Samuel Goodman Burnley (1800-1875) (who was a cousin of her father Nathaniel Burnley).

Samuel Goodman and Martha Caroline Burnley's son, William Henry Burnley (1840-1919) married Emma C. Dyson Burnley. Their son was William Samuel Burnley (1868-1942). William Samuel Burnley was a teacher and writer. He was married to Lula Payne Burnley and their children were Byron, William, James Henry, and John Nathaniel Burnley (1916-1964). Samuel Goodman and Martha Caroline Burnley also had a son named James Nathaniel Burnley (1848-1908). Both James Nathaniel Burnley and Dr. William Rice Burnley attended the University of Virginia. Carrie Cornelia Burnley, Charlottesville school teacher and principal is not in this collection but these are her uncles and aunts.


1 Cubic Feet (Burnley family correspondence, school records, military, legal papers, and receipts in cloth files) : 3 legal size document boxes and oversize cloth apron with original receipts

Language of Materials



There are four series for this collection, Series 1. Correspondence 1842-1964, Series 2. Legal 1808-1816, Series 3. Military 1862-1864, Series 4. Personal 1913-1924

Related Materials

Other Burnley family members (brother and niece) MSS 7871, MSS 4902

Burnley Family papers
Ellen Welch
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

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