Role in Ravensworth: Owner Parcel 1.1.4

Richard was one of fourteen children born to Henry (Colonel) and Sarah (Battaile) Fitzhugh. He married Susannah Meade (?-c.1857), daughter of Andrew Meade in 1790. Sources differ on how many children they had; however, there were at least eight:1

  • Ann F. Fitzhugh (c. 1805-1880)
  • Andrew Fitzhugh (?-1850), appointed a U.S. Navy midshipman in 1811, served in War of 1812 and Mexican War, rose to the rank of Captain in 1843 (Naval Captain Andrew Fitzhugh of Oakhill – by Debbie Robison, Northern Virginia History Notes)
  • Harriet Fitzhugh (1800-1871), married Berkeley Ward (1789-1860), inherited her uncle Giles Fitzhugh’s property near her home in Warrenton, Virginia
  • Meade Fitzhugh (c. 1793-1845), worked as a federal clerk for the Superintendent of Indian Trade in 1816 and the Treasury Department’s Commissioner of General Land Revenue in 1835, died at Oak Hill2
  • Caroline Battaile Fitzhugh (dates unknown), married (1) Horatio C. Withers in 1835 and (2) H. A. White in 1846
  • David H. Fitzhugh (1808-1868)
  • Richard Henry Fitzhugh (dates unknown)
  • Maria M. Fitzhugh (?-C.1862/3)

Richard Fitzhugh established his residence, Oak Hill, on his Ravensworth property, a plantation which he operated with slave labor. The 1820 federal census recorded 50 slaves in his household, equally divided between male and female.

He counted President Thomas Jefferson a friend and sometime visitor. Letters exchanged with Jefferson give insight into Richard’s interests and what appears to be a life dedicated to agriculture.3 Jefferson credited Richard Fitzhugh as a known ornithologist.4

During his lifetime, Richard Fitzhugh sold one small portion – about 120 acres, Parcel 1.1.4.1. The remainder passed to his widow Susannah in 1821. His will did not specify the exact division among heirs. Therefore, after her death c.1857, the Fairfax County Court divided it among four living children, the estate of a fifth child and a grandson, William Marbury Fitzhugh.5

Hosting President Thomas Jefferson.

Jefferson’s personal account books record at least four overnight stays at Richard Fitzhugh’s home, while President, on trips between Washington, DC and his Monticello home near Charlottesville, VA. The fourth and final stay, on March 14, 1809, was on his final trip home at the end of his presidency.6 The first of these stays – Jefferson’s April 1-2, 1804 visit – was arranged in Jefferson’s exchange of letters with Nicholas Fitzhugh that also reveal something about local roads and travel challenges at that time.


 

  1. Maddy McCoy, Genealogical Research for Fairfax County, Virginia Slavery Inventory Database (Unpublished manuscript, 2009); The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol 8 (1901) (Virginia Historical Society), 315; “Richard Fitzhugh (1766-1790)”, ArlisHerring.com.
  2. Register of the Officers and Agents of the United States, 1816 (U.S. Department of State); Register of All Officers and Agents in the Service of the United States, 1835 (U.S. Department of State) (Google Books).
  3. Thomas Jefferson, and Edwin Morris Betts, Ed., Thomas Jefferson’s Garden Book, annotated edition (The University of North Carolina Press, 2001)., 510.
  4. David W. Johnston, The History of Ornithology in Virginia (University of Virginia Press, 2003), 58.
  5. Maria M Fitzhugh, Etc. V. Hamden A White, Etc., original case number CFF32J, index number 1869-003, Library of Virginia online Chancery Records Index.
  6. Thomas Jefferson, Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767-1826 (Princeton University Press, 1997), 1123, 1148, 1203, 1243.