William J. Alston

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For the philosopher, see William Alston.
William Jeffreys Alston
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Alabama's 1st district
In office
March 4, 1849 – March 3, 1851
Preceded by John Gayle
Succeeded by John Bragg
Member of the Alabama House of Representatives
In office
Member of the Alabama Senate
In office
Personal details
Born December 31, 1800 (1800-12-31)
Petersburg, Georgia
Died June 10, 1876 (1876-06-11) (aged 75)
Magnolia, Alabama
Political party


Spouse(s) Martha Cade
Harriet Harwell
Caroline Hainsworth
Mary Glover Shields
Alma mater Litchfield Law School

William Jeffreys Alston (December 31, 1800 – June 10, 1876) was an American politician and a United States Representative from Alabama.


Alston was born near Petersburg in what is now Elbert County, Georgia, to Nathaniel Alston and Mary Grey Jeffreys Alston. His parents moved soon after his birth to Abbeville District, South Carolina, where he was taught by Moses Waddell. He and his parents moved to Alabama in 1818, eventually settling at McKinley in Marengo County.[1][2] He began reading law in 1821 and attended the Litchfield Law School in 1824.

Married four times, Alston had a total of ten children. His first marriage was to Martha Cade in 1824. They had seven children together. After Martha died in 1846, he married Harriet Harwell in 1847, with whom he had one son. His third marriage was to a widow, Mrs. Caroline Hainsworth Cheney. They had no surviving issue. Alston's fourth marriage was to another widow, Mrs. Mary Glover Shields Lowry, in 1867, and they had two sons together.


Following the completion of his education, he moved to Linden and established a law practice there. He went on to serve as judge of the Marengo County Court for several years.[1] Originally a Whig and later a Democrat, he served several terms as a county judge, multiple terms as an Alabama senator and representative, and one term as a United States Representative.[1][2][3]

Alston was elected a member of the Alabama House of Representatives from 1836 to 1837. He served in the Alabama Senate from 1839 to 1842. He returned to the Alabama House in 1843. He served at the national level when elected as a Whig to the Thirty-first Congress, holding office from March 4, 1849 to March 3, 1851.[4] He was not a candidate for renomination in 1850 and resumed the practice of his profession. Now running as a Democrat, Alston again became a member of the Alabama House from 1855 to 1857.[1][2]

After serving his last term in the Alabama House he retired from public life and moved to Magnolia, where he owned a large plantation.[1][3]


Alston died in Magnolia, Marengo County, Alabama, on June 10, 1876 (age 75 years, 162 days).[5] He was interred at Magnolia Cemetery in Magnolia.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e "William Jeffreys Alston". Litchfield Ledger. Litchfield Historical Society. September 28, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d United States Congress. "William J. Alston (id: A000166)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved September 28, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Marengo County Heritage Book Committee (2000). The heritage of Marengo County, Alabama. Clanton, Alabama: Heritage Publishing Consultants. p. 15. ISBN 1-891647-58-X. 
  4. ^ "William J. Alston". Govtrack US Congress. Retrieved 18 May 2013. 
  5. ^ "William J. Alston". The Political Graveyard. Retrieved 18 May 2013. 

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
John Gayle
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Alabama's 1st congressional district

March 4, 1849 – March 3, 1851
Succeeded by
John Bragg