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  • Full Name: George Wythe
  • Served: 1768 - 1776
  • Bio Information: GEORGE WYTHE, the last clerk of the House of Burgesses, was born in Elizabeth City County in 1726 or 1727. He may have studied briefly at the College of William and Mary, where in 1779 he assumed the professorship of law. He read law in the office of Stephen Dewey and in 1746 began his practice at the bar. He was named as clerk to two House of Burgesses committees in 1748, and during 1754 Wythe acted as attorney general while Peyton Randolph was in England. In that same year he was elected to the House of Burgesses. He represented Williamsburg in the last six sessions of the assembly of 1752-1755, the College of William and Mary in that of 1758-1761, and Elizabeth City County in the assemblies of 1761-1765 and 1766-1768. He was mayor of Williamsburg in 1768. Wythe was elected clerk of the House of Burgesses on 31 March 1768, and he served as clerk until the Revolution. Wythe represented Virginia in the Continental Congress in 1775 and 1776 and signed the Declaration of Independence. In 1778 Wythe began a distinguished career as a jurist with his appointment to the Virginia High Court of Chancery. He died on 8 June 1806, poisoned by his grandnephew George Wythe Swinney.

    On 6 May 1776, Virginia’s Fifth Convention, which wrote the Virginia Bill of Rights and the Constitution of 1776, met in Williamsburg. The next day Edmund Pendleton, president of the convention, wrote that the members of the House of Burgesses also had met “and determined not to adjourn, but to let that body die – and went into Convention.” Wythe’s final entry in the House of Burgesses journal reads:

    Monday, the 6th of May, 16 Geo. III. 1776. Several Members met, but did neither proceed to Business, nor adjourn, as a House of Burgesses. FINIS.

*The information within this interactive and searchable application has been researched extensively by the House Clerk’s Office. As with any historical records of this age and breadth, there may be discrepancies and/or inconsistencies within records obtained from a variety of credible sources. Any feedback is encouraged at history@house.virginia.gov.

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