Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Historical and Geneological Information about Judge Lucas P. Thompson

Genealogical and Historical Facts about Lucas Powell Thompson of Staunton, Virginia

Lucas Thompson’s father was John Thompson:
“John Thompson was born in County Antrim, Kingdom of Ireland, December, 1755. He came to America in 1774 when only 18. Joined the Revolutionary Army from the State of Pennsylvania, serving in Capt. Watson’s Company, and fought in the battle of Long Island. After the struggle between the mother country was over, he settled in Nelson County, Va., where he died in 1828 at his residence, “Farmer’s Joy.” He was buried in the family graveyard on the place which is surrounded on three sides with the majestic Blue Ridge mountains, which change their shades with every shadow and stand in everlasting guard over the old hero, who left his country when a mere lad, and fought gallantly to gain freedom for the country he had adopted as his home.” (From “Hull and Descendants,” pp. 16-17.)

His mother was Rebecca Edwards Powell, born September 25, 1769 in Warren, Nelson County, Virginia to Lucas Powell and Elizabeth Edwards. The Powell family originated in Bracosshire, Wales, and according to “Hull and Descendents” were “lineal descendants of those Powells whose first representative, Nathaniel, came to America with John Smith” (p. 16.) John and Rebecca were married December 9, 1786 in Amherst, Virginia. They had nine children:

Jane Thompson

Elizabeth Thompson (born December 10, 1787)

Mildred Thompson (born March 4, 1791, died November 1, 1851)

James Powell Thompson (born February 2, 1792 in Amherst, Va., died February 2, 1882 in McMinnnville, Warren County, Tennessee.) Thompson was a lawyer. He married Rachel Shelly Edmondson in 1822. Children:
Louise Thompson (born August 21, 1831 in McMinnville, Tenn. Married John Lyle Spurlock.
John Lucas Thompson (b. 1833, died 1886. John Thompson was educated in Virginia as a lawyer, was the Captain of Company C of Savages 16th Tn. Regiment, CSA )
Rebecca Thompson (birthdate unknown)
James Powell Thompson (born around 1835)
Hampden Thompson (born around 1839)
Martha Thompson (born around 1841)
William Thompson (born around 1844)

Mary Thompson (born 1793, died May 31, 1830; married Henry Fauntleroy Carter on November 26, 1807. Children:
Elvira Carter
William George Carter
Eveline Carter
Wilson Merrill Carter
Richard Washington Carter
Lewis Marion Carter
James Monroe Carter

Lucas Powell Thompson

John Thompson (born February 3, 1797)

Rebecca Edwards Thompson (born July 11, 1805, died 1889)

William Mason Thompson (born 1807, died October 15, 1859 in Bath, Virginia)

Lucas Thompson was educated at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia. The following is from the Ancestral Records and Portraits Volume 1, Colonial Dames of America (New York: The Grafton Press, 1910, p. 315)

“At the age of eighteen, after a walking tour through Spain, he returned to Virginia, where he studied and graduated in law, his license bearing names of the most eminent in the State, Archibald Stuart, Hugh Holmes and Briscoe Baldwin, Judges of the Supreme Court of Virginia, and by a coincidence all cousins of his wife. In a few years he was elected Judge of the Circuit Court of Augusta, Albemarle, Nelson, Amherst, and Rockbridge counties, succeeding Chief Justice Marshall, admitted to be the most learned jurist in Virginia. He held his position during the Civil War and was still kept in it by the Federal government during the stormy reconstruction days. By the advice of General Robert E. Lee, he took the oath of allegiance, and after the war, though refusing to ‘soil the ermine of the office’ by running for the position he had held before, was elected to it again, one vote only being cast against him. Judge Thompson was the originator of the idea of sending a commission, during the Civil War, to meet Mr. Lincoln in the interests of peace, a suggestion which was accepted.* Hon. Alexander H. H. Stuart, of Staunton, one of President Fillmore’s cabinet, being chosen to represent Virginia. Judge Thompson married Caroline, the daughter of James and Susanna Howard Baker Tapscott….”

*This refers to a meeting with Lincoln in Richmond after the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia for the purpose of arranging as beneficial a settlement to Virginia as possible. Stuart and others stressed that Virginia had reluctantly left the Union and its people had always harbored Unionist sentiment. They were not negotiating on behalf of the Confederacy, but for Virginia alone.


Lucas Powell Thompson was married three times.

His first wife was Caroline Tapscott, daughter of James Tapscott and Susanna Howard Baker. They were married on January 15, 1828. She died October 21, 1853 in Staunton, Virginia. Her grave in Thornrose Cemetery reads: “My presence shall go with thee and I will give thee rest.” They had eight children:

Margaret Thompson (born about 1829; married Paul Jones Carrington)
Lucas Baker Thompson (born December 25, 1830; died October 21, 1854, was an engineer)
Susan Rebecca Thompson (born about 1832; married Robert Hull)
John Baker Thompson (born about 1834; married Alice Powers; died at Shiloh in 1862)
Caroline B. Thompson (born about 1837; married Charles Carroll)
Eleanor Stuart Thompson (born about 1839; married Robert Goodloe Harper Carroll)
Aleinda (Alice) Thompson (born about 1842; never married)
Mary Carter Thompson (born about 1844; married John Lee Carroll)

Thompson’s second wife was Arabella Stuart White who was born about 1820 in Romney, Hampshire County, Virginia. She was the daughter of Robert White and Arabella Baker. Judge Thompson’s circuit included Hampshire County, and Robert White was the clerk of the county and also a farmer with 14 slaves. Arabella White was connected to the Baker and the Tapscott family. They married on October 29, 1855 in Romney County, Virginia, now West Virginia. The second Mrs. Thompson died on May 23, 1858 after what the newspaper described as “a painful illness.” Her gravestone reads: “There remaineth a rest for the people of God.” She is buried at Thornrose Cemetery in Staunton, Virginia.

His third wife was Catherine Carrington, daughter of William Allen Carrington and Sarah Embry Scott of Halifax, a member of the family into which his daughter Margaret had married. William Allen Carrington had also been a student at Hampden Sydney, and may have met Lucas P. Thompson there. The marriage took place on August 6, 1860 at Mildendo with Reverend Alexander Martin of Charlotte county, a Presbyterian minister, officiating. It was announced in the Staunton Republican Vindicator on August 31, 1860. Miss Carrington was one of the Virginia Carrrington’s, a family long prominent in the state. Their ancestral home, built around 1760, was Mildendo, named after the Lilliput metropolis in Jonathan Swift’s book, “Gulliver’s Travels”. The bride was 35 at the time of the marriage; Judge Thompson was 63. The plantation had numerous slaves, and two of those were loaned to Catherine by her mother. Judge Thompson had no slaves, and it may be that his new mother-in-law feared that he would interfere with Catherine’s “property” or may just have distrusted his imperious temperament. At any rate, in her will of 1861, she stipulated that her son Charles, his heirs and assigns, were to hold the property allotted to Catherine during her lifetime, for her own sole and separate use, “exclusively of her husband, and wherewith he is not to intermeddle.” No part of her bequest was to be subject to his “control, debts, or engagements” and all profits were to be paid either to her or to her agent. However, Mrs. Carrington did not die until 1872, six years after the death of Judge Powell, so Catherine’s inheritance never became an issue. If slavery were the cause of Mrs. Carrington’s concern, the Civil War made it a moot point.

After Judge Thompson died, Catherine Carrington Thompson married her cousin Dr. Paul Jones Carrington, widowed when his wife, Judge Thompson’s daughter Margaret, died in 1887 after 42 years of marriage and nine children. Margaret Thompson Carrington is buried in Christ Episcopal Church Cemetery near Mount Laurel, Virginia. Catherine Carrington died June 25, 1893 and Dr. Carrington died on April 17, 1900. The site of their graves is unknown.


Lucas Powell Thompson is buried at Thornrose Cemetery in Staunton, Virginia. His headstone reads: “In Memoriam, Lucas Powell, son of John and Rebecca Thompson, Born July 15, 1797 at Farmer’s Joy, Nelson County, died April 21, 1866 at Staunton, Virginia. ‘Mark the perfect man and behold the upright for the end of that man is peace.’”


Family in Augusta County Census, 1850:

Lucas P. Thompson, Male, age 52, Judge C.S.C.L.C.; property worth 10,000
Lucas P. Thompson (Jr.,), Male, Age 30, engineer
John B. (Baker) Thompson, Male age 16
Susan C. Thompson, Female, Age 48
Susan R. Thompson, Female, Age 18
Caroline B. Thompson, Female, Age 13
Ellen S. Thompson, Female, Age 11
Aleinda Thompson, Female, Age 8
Mary C. Thompson, Female, Age 6


Lucas Thompson was elected judge first in 1831 in Staunton, elevated to the Circuit Court of Appeals in 1852. In 1866, in recognition of his opposition to secession, he was appointed to the Virginia State Court of Appeals, but he died before serving.

Judge Thompson ran a law school in his home Hilltop, in the section called Fairy Hill in Staunton. Hilltop was constructed between 1816-1820; it was purchased by Thompson in 1842. In 1872, Hilltop was acquired by the Augusta Female Seminary, now Mary Baldwin College. It is on the National Historic Register, but because it was used as a dormitory by the college, only the exterior is original.


The judicial race between Judge Thompson and his opponent, Mr. Fultz, was extraordinarily virulent. From January-November, 1860, it occupied many columns in the Staunton Spectator, far more than the presidential race that would result in secession and war. The primary complaints against Judge Thompson seemed to center on a delay of justice and Judge Thompson’s tendency to display temper against lawyers appearing before his bar whom he deemed incompetent. This letter of May 8, 1860, illustrates the anti-Thompson view:

“The undignified character and deportment of such a Judge cannot fail to have a pernicious effect upon the taste and moral feelings of the Bar. Seeing the Judge making it convenient on all apparently possible occasions to show his temper, and wound the feelings of some of them, the members of the Bar must regard not only a moral, but a religious duty, in every case affording them a tolerable opportunity, to slaughter several witnesses, and blacken the character of the parties.”

This anti-Thompson letter was countered on the same page with a letter claiming that “the world has never seen such a canvas before as that now waging for the judicial election in this circuit.” The writer goes on to deplore the efforts to “crush out a good man” and predict that the voters will “wash their hands of the iniquity, and stand in solid columns on the side of him, against whom in an arduous public service of thirty years, they had heard no breath of blame, until the stress and necessity of a desperate and selfish opposition have, on the eve of a struggle for his office, attempted to impale him.”

His friends countered that Judge Thompson dealt with more cases than any other judge in Virginia and in addition to his regular court work, spent more than two months a year in Richmond at the Special Court of Appeals. To the claim that Judge Thompson was too old, one insisted: “Judge T. is in the vigor of his life and intellect, and, so far as man can see, will be fully competent, mentally and physically, to discharge the duties of his office for many years to come. A few years ago his health was impaired, and he has at sundry times been bowed down by the weight of domestic afflictions—surely a just and generous people do not remember these things to his disadvantage. I appeal to them in behalf of a faithful public servant, having no interest to subserve myself but the Public Welfare.” (Staunton Spectator, February 28, 1860, p. 3.)

Staunton Spectator article on Judge Thompson, January 31, 1866, p. 3.

The Judicial Election—Hon. Judge Lucas P. Thompson

“Messrs. Editors:--The able and distinguished jurist who has presided over this Circuit for the last thirty years, is again a candidate for re-election—not of his own motion, but at the voluntary and earnest solicitation of the whole Bar of his Circuit, with a solitary exception.
Those gentlemen, whom the people know—whose interest it might be to depreciate the presiding Judge, in order to obtain his position for one of themselves—whose business depends upon the industry, integrity and ability of the Judge of the Circuit, (for unless the business of the Courts is speedily disposed of, it languishes, and few new suits are brought, thus impoverishing the lawyers)—those gentlemen, who certainly know Judge Thompson best, and the industry, speed and ability with which he transacts the business of his office, have, with one accord, recommended him, in the highest terms, to their clients and fellow-citizens, as the man, of all others in the Circuit, most fit to fill the high and responsible office which he has so long adorned—this office, on the faithful discharge of the duties of which the lives, the liberties, the reputations, and the fortunes of the people depend. Many of the voters of this Circuit are not personally familiar with Judge Thompson. . . . The only reason is that he has been a man of study and hard labor—devoted, more than any man I have ever known, to the performance of his heavy duties. In the true spirit of a good and faithful officer, he has preferred to serve rather than court the people, and possession by nature one of the most genial, kind and social dispositions, he has painfully learned to conquer his nature and debar himself of the solaces of society, that he might labor the more assiduously for the welfare of the people. This is no new thing with him, super-induced by the terrors of the “term tenure.” While the recurrence of election day has not deterred him from a fearless discharge of his duty, in extending the protection of the law to the humblest and most friendless citizens, it has not added on him any new and bustling industry; but finds him and leaves him the same earnest, devoted, and active laborer in the cause of justice and liberty—not that he may be continued in office, but for the sake of his country—the happiness of fellow men. Judge Thompson is one of those whom the new Constitution found in office, and who, without incentive of self-interest or in the hope of re-election (for then his was a life tenure) had so well and faithfully discharged the duties of the heaviest Circuit in the State, that at the first election in 1852, his people, by a voluntary and universal impulse, greeted him with that sweet reward of patriotic exertion, the exclamation of ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant;’ and he was elected, as it were, by acclamation. Long before these high testimonials of his worth had emanated from the people of his Circuit, the Legislature of the State in passing a law to increase his salary had borne the following flattering and well merited testimony to his extraordinary services. (See preamble to an Act concerning the twelfth Judicial Circuit—Acts of assembly of 1847-48—p. 54.)


From the “Annals of Augusta County, Virginia” by Jos. A. Waddell (Staunton, Va., Russell Caldwell Publisher, 1902): “In February 1866, Judge Lucas P. Thompson was nominated by the governor and confirmed by the legislature as one of the Judges of the Court of Appeals. His health, however, was then declining, and he died the following April, without having taken his seat on the bench of the highest court.” Thompson was given this position in Reconstruction Virginia because of his strenuous opposition to secession in 1860-1861.


Eulogy of Lucas Powell Thompson in the Staunton Spectator, May 1, 1866, p. 3.

Judge Lucas P. Thompson

“At a meeting of the Staunton Bar, on the 23d ult. Thomas J. Michie, Esq., was appointed Chairman and Nicholas K. Trout, Secretary.
On motion of Hon. A. H. H. Stuart, a committee consisting of the chairman of the meeting, and Messrs. Stuart, Echols, Trout, Henderson, Christian, and Baldwin were appointed to prepare resolutions.
Subsequently Mr. Mitchie from the committee reported the following which was adopted.
1st. Resolved. That with feelings of the deepest sorrow the members of the Staunton Bar have heard of the afflicting dispensation of Providence which has removed from among them in the midst of his usefulness their friend and fellow citizen, Judge Lucas P. Thompson, for many years the able and incorruptible Judge of the circuit and recently elected to the bench of the Supreme Court of this State.
2nd. That in the late Lucas P. Thompson we recognize a lively and illustrious example of all that is noble and attractive among men. With him a fearless love of justice was beautifully tempered with charity and a heart feelingly alive to the finest sensibilities, while over all his manly virtues, the graces of a pure Christian faith shed their benignant light, and marked him as one more fit for heaven than for the strifes and turmoils of earthly habitation. He must ever be remembered as a just, upright, conscientious and learned Judge, and in all the relations of private life as a courteous gentleman, a true, faithful and warm-hearted friend, and a charming social companion.
3d. That in his death the State has to deplore the loss of one of its most faithful officers—society one of its brightest and most cherished ornaments, his family circle of the kindest and most affectionate husband, father, and brother.
4th. That we tender our warmest sympathies and condolence to the bereaved widow and family of our friend, with the assurance that we mingle our tears of sorrow with them in this great affliction.
5th. Than in token of our esteem and affectionate regard fro the deceased, we attend his remains to the grave, and wear for thirty days the usual badges of mourning.
6th. That the preceedings of this meeting be presented to the family of the deceased and published in the newspapers of Staunton and Richmond, and that they be communicated to the County Court of Augusta, which meets today, and also to the Circuit Court at its next session.

Judge Thompson’s gravestone at Thornrose Cemetery reads:
“In Memoriam
Lucas Powell
Son of John and Rebecca Thompson
Born July 15, 1797 at Farmer’s Joy, Nelson County, Virginia
Died April 21, 1866 at Staunton, Virginia
‘Mark the perfect man and behold the upright for the end of that man is peace.’”

Two of his wives, Susan and Arabella, are buried near him. His third wife, Caroline Carrington, went on to marry the Judge’s son-in-law, Paul Jones Carrington, her cousin, and her burial site is unknown.



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Blogger j hutch said...

Mrs.Catherine Carringon Thompson is buried in Hollywood Cem in Richmond, VA. Her gravestone names her as the wife of Judge Thompson. It makes no mention of a second husband so that makes the article concerning her second marriage suspect.

12:26 PM  

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