Hugh Blair Grigsby

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Hugh Blair Grigsby
Born (1806-11-22)November 22, 1806
Norfolk, Virginia, U.S.
Died April 28, 1881(1881-04-28) (aged 74)
Charlotte County, Virginia, U.S.
Alma mater Yale University, College of William and Mary LLD
Occupation Editor, Historian, Educator
Notable work Convention of 1776, Convention of 1788, Convention of 1829-30
Title Chancellor of the College of William and Mary, President of the Virginia Historical Society
Spouse(s) Mary Venable Carrington

Hugh Blair Grigsby (November 22, 1806 – April 28, 1881) was a historical scholar from Virginia.

Early life[edit]

Grigsby was born in Norfolk, Virginia. After attending Yale for two years studying law, Grigsby returned to Norfolk to practice, but his growing deafness caused him to turn to journalism. For six years he was owner and editor of the Norfolk American Beacon. He represented Norfolk in the legislature 1829-1830, and became a delegate to the Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1829-1830 along with, James Madison, and other noted men.[1]

In 1840, Grigsby married Mary Venable Carrington, the daughter of Colonel Clement Carrington of "Edgehill" plantation, Charlotte County, Virginia. Except for short period in Norfolk, Grigsby remained at Edgehill the rest of his life, modernizing agricultural methods and managing a profitable enterprise.[2]

Grigsby had a great passion for books and classical art. He eventually acquired over 6,000 volumes in his lifetime, and augmented his own collection with volumes purchased from the library of John Randolph of Roanoke, who was a delegate from Charlotte County in the Virginia Convention of 1829-30 they had attended together. He supported Virginia sculptor Alexander Galt, and owned his "Columbus", "Sappho", "Psyche", and "Bacchante".[3]

Career at the College[edit]

The College of William and Mary
Wren Building with Italianate towers, c. 1859

Grigsby, a descendant of the College's first colonial President John Blair, received his Doctorate of Laws from the College in 1855. In 1859, following a fire that consumed the library, headed the list of donors for a vested library fund with a contribution of $1000.[4] One thousand dollars as an economic project cost in 1859 dollars is $4 million in 2016 dollars.[5]

Following the Civil War, Grigsby on the Board of Visitors along with former Governor Henry A. Wise supported College President Benjamin Ewell in reinvesting the College's remaining endowment funds in Williamsburg's heritage site rather than relocating to Richmond. An elementary preparatory school was established with funds from a colonial fund dating to 1741, awarded by the English Court of Chancery in September 1866. Faculty size was reduced and the Brafferton building was used for most classes, along with the President's House as a science laboratory.[6]

In 1870, Grigsby, who had been active at the College of William and Mary on its Board of Visitors since the 1850s, was elected as President of the Virginia Historical Society. The following year he was elected chancellor of the College following former President John Tyler, and Grigsby served both posts as President of the VHS and Chancellor of W&M until 1881.[7]

Grigsby was an authority on the history of Virginia, and William and Mary had given him the degree of Doctor of Laws (LL. D) in 1855. He contributed to the Southern Literary Messenger, and wrote numerous historical discourses, including one on the Virginia convention of 1829-30 delivered before the historical society in 1853, another on that of 1776 delivered at William and Mary in 1855, and "Discourse on Hon. Littleton W. Tazewell" (Norfolk, 1860). He died in Charlotte County, Virginia in 1881, and is buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Norfolk.[8]


  • Grigsby, Hugh Blair., The Virginia Convention of 1776. (1855) Google Books digitalized. also, American Revolutionary War Series. Applewood Books. Bedford, MA. ISBN 978-1-4290-1760-2 Also, Da Capo Press, (1969) LOC card number 75-75320
  • Grigsby, Hugh Blair., The history of the Virginia federal convention of 1788: with some account of some eminent Virginians of that era who were members of the body. Google Books digitalized. Also, Da Capo Press, (1969) LOC card number 70-75319
  • Grigsby, Hugh Blair., The Virginia convention of 1829-1830: A discourse delivered before the Virginia Historical Society, at their annual meeting, held in the City of Richmond. (1853) (Google eBook) Also, Da Capo Press, (1969) LOC card number 79-75321



External links[edit]