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Scott and Gunnell family papers

Identifier: MSS 12202

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of bound volumes, journals, daybooks, and notebooks belonging to John Scott, Richard Marshall Scott,Sr., Richard Marshall Scott,Jr., James L. Gunnell, and Dr. Francis M. Gunnell, and a photograph album belonging to Sarah Louise Rittenhouse. Other materials include printed articles about the Bush Hill plantation,a copy of a book, "The Battles of Aldie, Middleburg and Upperville," and genealogical charts, tables and notes.


  • Creation: 1772-1990


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research use.

Biographical Note

The Bush Hill Plantation was originally owned by Josiah Watson, an English customs collector, who built the manor house in 1763. Watson sold the entire estate in 1797 to Richard Marshall Scott, son of John Scott (1732-1792) and Mary Marshall Scott (1735-1795). John Scott, an emigrant from Glasgow, Scotland, arrived in the colony of Maryland around 1753 with a cargo to begin a career as a merchant. After some financial set-backs, John Scott became a farmer. John Scott and Mary Marshall Scott had three children born to them, David Wilson Scott (1766-1827), Richard Marshall Scott (1769-1833), and Anna Scott (1772-1821). In 1780, the Scott family moved from Maryland, settling first in Fairfax County, Virginia, and then at Farmington, in former Loudoun County, in 1791.

Richard Marshall Scott, Sr. became a successful merchant and banker in Alexandria, Virginia, founding the Farmer’s Bank of Alexandria, and served in the Virginia General Assembly in 1811-1812. He was active in gardening and horticulture and had a large private library. Richard Marshall Scott married three times. His first marriage was to Mary Love (1768-1812). He remained a widower until 1828, when he married his cousin, Eleanor Douglas Marshall (1807-1830). She bore his first son, Richard Marshall Scott, Jr. (1829-1856), five months before her death in 1830. His third marriage was to Lucinda Fitzhugh in 1832, who bore him a second son, Jonathan Mordecai Scott (1833-1924), in the same year as his death.

William H. Foote became guardian in 1834 for the young Richard Marshall Scott, Jr. who attended various schools for boys and read law in Alexandria, Virginia with Francis L. Smith. Scott returned to Bush Hill Plantation at about age sixteen and began to keep a diary on February 18, 1846. On September 15, 1846, at age seventeen, he married Virginia Gunnell (1826-1913) of Washington. Their children were Frank Scott (1849-1893), Eleanor Marshall Scott Johnston (1847-1905), Richard M. Scott (1851-1915) and Anna Constance Scott (1853-1882).

The 1850 Slave Schedule of Fairfax County lists Richard M. Scott with twenty enslaved persons. Fairfax County’s 1859 Personal Property Assessment for Virginia Scott lists taxation for fourteen enslaved people. After the death of her husband in 1856, Virginia Gunnell Scott (1826-1913) managed the Bush Hill Plantation. During the Civil War, Bush Hill functioned as headquarters for Union officers, but the Scott family remained in the house. Bush Hill remained in possession of Virginia Gunnell Scott and her family until her death in 1913, when it passed to a cousin, Leonard Coleman Gunnell (1870-1941), and then to his son, Bruce Covington Gunnell (1907-1996 ), a Fairfax engineer. Beginning in 1942, the house was leased to the U.S. government and then to various day schools. Much of the property was sold to developers, with the historic building itself being destroyed by arson in 1977.

Information for this note came from materials in the collection and “Phase IA Documentary Study of 10.67 Acres at 4840 Eisenhower Avenue, Alexandria, Virginia” by William M. Gardner and Gwen J. Hurst, November 1999, Thunderbird Archeological Associates, Incorporated:


2.25 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials



Donated by Mrs. Bruce C. (Virginia Burt) Gunnell (1909-2009) in April 2002.

Separated Materials

In 2002, about 140 print items (117 titles) from the "Bush Hill" library, including Congressional Registers, four Alexandria newspapers, other government documents, a hymn book, histories and a dictionary, were transferred to Rare Books. To locate these in the online catalog (VIRGO), do a subject search for: Bush Hill (Estate: Alexandria, Va.) .


Scott and Gunnell family papers
In Progress
Sharon Defibaugh
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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