|Clerk of Court for Hampshire County|
|Preceded by||Gabriel Jones|
|Succeeded by||Samuel McGuire|
Glasgow, Scotland, Kingdom of Great Britain
Romney, Virginia (now West Virginia), United States
|Resting place||Old Presbyterian Cemetery (demolished), Romney, West Virginia, United States|
|Residence||Wilson-Wodrow-Mytinger House, Romney, West Virginia, United States|
|Years of service||1779–1781 (Virginia militia)
(Hampshire County militia)
1788 (Hampshire County militia)
|Rank||Lieutenant colonel (Virginia militia)
Colonel (Hampshire County militia)
Major (Hampshire County militia)
Hampshire County militia
|Battles/wars||American Revolutionary War|
Wodrow was born in Scotland in 1752 and immigrated to Virginia in 1768. In Fredericksburg, he engaged in a thriving import business. Following the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War, Wodrow placed his entire inventory up for public auction and contributed the profits to the American Revolutionary patriot cause. During the war, Wodrow served as a lieutenant colonel in command of cavalry in the Continental Army.
Wodrow was the first resident clerk of court for Hampshire County, Virginia (now West Virginia), a position in which he served for a tenure lasting 32 years (1782–1814). There, Wodrow served in the position of major in the Hampshire County militia. In addition, he represented Hampshire County at the Virginia Ratifying Convention, held to ratify the United States Constitution in 1788. He was appointed by the Virginia General Assembly as a trustee of the towns of Romney and Watson Town (present-day Capon Springs). Wodrow amassed numerous properties which included landholdings along the Cacapon River and the Wilson-Wodrow-Mytinger House in Romney, and became a prosperous landholder in Hampshire County.
- 1 Early life and education
- 2 Business career
- 3 Political career
- 4 Land affairs and holdings
- 5 Personal life
- 6 References
- 7 Bibliography
Early life and education
Andrew Wodrow was born in Scotland, possibly in Glasgow, in 1752. He was descended from a family of scholars and professors. His father Robert Wodrow was a historian of the Church of Scotland with a "national reputation" and published his history in 1752, the same year as Wodrow's birth. Two other members of Wodrow's family filled, in succession, the "chair of theology" at the University of Glasgow and another Wodrow family member served as the university's librarian. Wodrow immigrated to the Colony of Virginia in 1768.
During the 1770s, Wodrow established and expanded what became a thriving import business in Fredericksburg. Following the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War, he abandoned his business rather than import and sell goods from the Kingdom of Great Britain. He placed his entire inventory of British goods up for public auction in January 1775 and contributed the resulting profits totaling 19 pounds and 14 shillings to the American Revolutionary patriot cause in Boston. Wodrow became affiliated with the King George Association of 1770, which called on "every freeholder" in King George County, Virginia to carry the revolution through to its fullest extent.
American Revolutionary War posts
Following the cessation of his import business, Wodrow was appointed to serve in the political post of clerk for the Revolutionary Committee for King George County on May 6, 1775. During the American Revolutionary War in 1779, Wodrow joined the Virginia militia where he was commissioned an officer with the rank of major and served under the Continental Army. He then served as a lieutenant colonel in command of cavalry until 1781 after which he became a member of the Society of the Cincinnati of Virginia.
Wodrow relocated from King George County to Romney in Hampshire County during the latter years of the American Revolutionary War. In 1781, Wodrow was promoted to the military rank of colonel in command of the Hampshire County militia.
Hampshire County Clerk of Court tenure
In 1782, he was elected to serve as the clerk of court for Hampshire County following the retirement of Gabriel Jones, who had been appointed by Thomas Fairfax, 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron. Wodrow was the first clerk of court to reside in Hampshire County while serving in the post. Because of his key position as clerk, Wodrow performed a significant role in the conveying and settling of lands in Hampshire County.
On January 10, 1788, Wodrow was recommended to the position of major in the Hampshire County militia. Later, in March 1788, Wodrow, along with Ralph Humphreys, was elected to represent Hampshire County at the Virginia Ratifying Convention held to ratify the United States Constitution. The Virginia Ratifying Convention convened in Richmond in June 1788, with Wodrow and Humphreys both voting "aye" in favor of ratification.
During the lead up to the War of 1812, Wodrow chaired an anti-war meeting in Hampshire County at which those assembled objected to a heedless rush to war with the British, which was in line with contemporary Federalist principles. According to historian Stuart L. Butler, Wodrow and the meeting's attendees felt that:
to involve [the United States] in an expensive and uncertain war, for purposes not absolutely necessary, and entail taxes and misery on ourselves and our posterity, when we might enjoy the blessings of peace and plenty and a good price for our produce on terms as honorable at least as those for the last fifteen years past, would appear to them the extreme of folly, little short of madness.
Wodrow and the committee believed that within two years of the war's beginning, it would become unpopular because of the need for increased taxation and prolonged military service. Wodrow and the committee stated, "the nation would rise in its constitutional strength, and say to those who brought about such an unpropitious state of things, 'depart from ye wicked.'"
Wodrow served as the clerk of court for Hampshire County for a tenure spanning 32 years until his death at his residence in Romney in 1814. Following his death, Wodrow's son-in-law Samuel McGuire served the remainder of his term for fifteen months until 1815 when he was succeeded by John Baker White. West Virginia historian Wilmer L. Kerns said of Wodrow in Hampshire County, West Virginia, 1754–2004 (2004) that he "was a prominent and scholarly man, successful in his business, and a good politician."
Land affairs and holdings
In 1782, Wodrow served as an executor of the last will and testament of his uncle Alexander Wodrow, a wealthy merchant, and sold his personal estate, a moiety of two land lots in Falmouth, and 212 acres (0.86 km2) along the Rappahannock River in Stafford County to pay his uncle's debts, with the remainder of the proceeds directed to his other family members. Wodrow sought permission from the Virginia General Assembly to sell the remainder of Alexander Wodrow's landholdings in Frederick, Hampshire, and Stafford counties, which he was granted. In addition to his landholdings, Wodrow was also charged with the sale of his uncle's slaves, furniture, watches, buckles, and several personal items. Wodrow personally inherited his uncle's riding horse and "wearing apparel."
After his move to Romney, Wodrow began to amass numerous properties and became a prosperous landholder in Hampshire County. In 1788, Wodrow purchased a land tract consisting of 100 acres (0.40 km2) along the Cacapon River in Hampshire County. On December 4, 1789, Wodrow was appointed by an act of the Virginia General Assembly as a trustee of the town of Romney. He served as a trustee alongside Isaac Miller, Isaac Parsons, Stephen Colvin, Jonathan Purcell, Nicholas Casey, William McGuire, Perez Drew, and James Murphy. Wodrow and his fellow trustees were given authority by the Virginia General Assembly to settle disputes regarding the town's land lots and to "open and clear" the town's "streets and lanes" in accordance with the original survey and plan for Romney. Wodrow was again appointed by an act of the Virginia General Assembly on December 27, 1800 to a second board of trustees governing Watson Town (present-day Capon Springs), and charged with laying off land lots, streets, and a half-acre lot containing the mineral spring for public use along Capon Springs Run. On October 4, 1808, Wodrow and fellow trustee Henry Beattie conveyed Lot No. 2 in Watson Town to Lawrence Augustine Washington a nephew of then former President George Washington. The location of Watson Town is the present-day site of Capon Springs Resort.
Wodrow and his wife Mary Ann inherited her father Colonel George Wilson's residence on the eastern boundary of Lot 48 in Romney following his death in 1777 and made it their home. During the 1770s and 1780s, Wodrow's residence was located on what was then the "main street" in Romney, presently known as Gravel Lane. During his tenure as clerk of court, Wodrow constructed a two-and-one-half story office building adjacent to this residence and its kitchen, all three of which are extant and contribute to the structure presently known as the Wilson-Wodrow-Mytinger House at 51 West Gravel Lane. The adjoining edifice, built by Wodrow for the handling of his clerk of court affairs, is believed to be the oldest extant public office building within the present-day state of West Virginia. Wodrow "went to great expense to add beauty and dignity" to his office building, incorporating architectural styles of panelling and woodworking prevalent in both Fredericksburg and Williamsburg. Following Wodrow's death, his residence was owned by his son-in-law John McDowell.
Old Presbyterian Churchyard
Wodrow was a dynamic and influential member of the Presbyterian Church, and in his will, he granted two land lots (Lots No. 59 and No. 60) south of West Gravel Lane from his residence for the construction of Romney's first Presbyterian church building and the establishment of a cemetery. Wodrow's executor, James Dailey, deeded the two land lots on April 1, 1816 to Mount Bethel Congregation trustees James Beach, William Inskeep, Adam Hare, and John Lawson for these purposes. Wodrow was interred in this cemetery (later known as "the Old Presbyterian Cemetery") which was located atop the hill of the two lots. The Presbyterian church was built near the corner of West Gravel Lane and South High Streets between 1812 and 1816. The Old Presbyterian Cemetery fell into neglect by the late 19th century and was destroyed around 1940 when the hill on which it was located was cut away and leveled for the construction of a factory. Although some human remains and headstones were relocated to Indian Mound Cemetery, Wodrow's remains were likely lost during the destruction of the cemetery.
Marriage and issue
Wodrow married Mary Ann Wilson, the daughter of Colonel George Wilson. Wodrow and his wife Mary Ann had at least five children: Matilda Wodrow McDowell, married to John McDowell; an unnamed daughter, married to Samuel McGuire; Craig Wodrow; Emily Jean Wodrow Kercheval, married to lawyer Samuel Kercheval, Jr., son of Virginia historian Samuel Kercheval; and Elizabeth Wodrow Dailey, married to James Dailey. Wodrow's son, Craig Wodrow, was a scholar, but due to his chronic poor health, he was unable to pursue active roles in business or politics. Craig Wodrow was also interred in the Old Presbyterian Cemetery in Romney.
- Ross 1896, p. iii. Wodrow's surname was occasionally spelled in contemporary records and by historians as "Woodrow", a spelling which was later adopted by some of his descendants. According to historian Peter Ross in his The Scot in America (1896): "the additional vowel [was] introduced in the name to preserve its sound, a custom which is widely prevalent, and which has helped more than aught else to obliterate many traces of the doings of the early American Scots. This fashion of altering the spelling of names is unfortunately much more common than is generally supposed."
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- Harris 2009, p. 8.
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- Heitman 1914, p. 604.
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- "Old Presbyterian Cemetery in Romney, West Virginia", HistoricHampshire.org (HistoricHampshire.org, Charles C. Hall), retrieved September 28, 2013
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