Sir John Thomas Randolph

Born: July 20, 1693 at "Tazwell Hall," Turkey Island in Charles City County
Married: Susannah Beverley c.1718
Died: March 7, 1737
Buried: in chapel of the Wren Building, College of William & Mary1

Col William Randolph II and Mary Isham

Beverley Randolph (c.1720)
Peyton Randolph (1721)
John Randolph, Jr.
Mary Randolph

He was sent to England for a legal education at the Inns of Court, which he completed in 1717. When he returned to Virginia in 1718, Governor Alexander Spotswood appointed him clerk of the House of Burgesses. John Randolph also served as secretary to the Virginia delegation that went to the 1722 conference in Albany, New York between the colonies and the Iroquois. The Iroquois ceded claims to Virginia territory east of the Blue Ridge in the Treaty of Albany.

He purchased a house in Williamsburg and built another house on an adjacent lot. Later, his son Peyton Randolph built a 36' long center section connecting them to create the building now known as the Peyton Randolph House.

In 1726, Gov. Hugh Drysdale appointed John Randolph as Attorney General of the colony. He traveled back to England in 1728 to lobby for a change in a law that reduced the value of tobacco exports. The king's officials had required that tobacco be shipped with leaves still attached to the stems, because the greater bulk increased the weight of exports that were taxed. Virginians wanted to strip the leaves from the stalks, because higher-quality tobacco would receive higher prices.

The law was not changed, but his lobbying was impressive enough for John Randolph to become a knight by September 1732 and to be addressed as "Sir Randolph." Colonial Williamsburg notes that he was the "the only Virginian knighted from the day Roanoke Island was settled in 1585 until independence was declared in 1776."

After returning to Virginia, he was chosen in 1734 by the College of William and Mary to be their representative in the House of Burgesses. To take that seat, he had to resign as the clerk of the house. He was immediately chosen to be the Speaker of the House of Burgesses.

He was buried in a place of honor, the chapel of the Wren Building, after he died in 1737. After a fire in that building in 1859, his burial vault was examined during repairs. Skeletons of two males were found interred in the vault, creating a mystery still unsolved.2


1. "Sir John Randolph of Tazwell," Geni,; "Sir John Randolph," Colonial Williamsburg, (last checked November 27, 2019)
2. "Sir John Randolph," Colonial Williamsburg,; "Lady Susannah Beverley Randolph," Colonial Williamsburg,,; "Peyton Randolph House," Colonial Williamsburg, (last checked November 27, 2019)

The Grymes Family