Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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LEIGH, Benjamin Watkins, senator, born in Chesterfield county, Virginia, 18 June, 1781; died in Richmond, Virginia, 2 February, 1849. He was graduated at William and Mary in 1802, and at twenty-one years of age was admitted to the bar. He practised successfully till 1813 in Petersburg, Virginia, was a member of the legislature from that city, and presented a series of resolutions that asserted the right of the legislature to instruct the United States senators from Virginia. He then removed to Richmond, where he at once took a high place at the bar, was one of the commissioners to revise the statutes of the state, and became reporter to the court of appeals. In 1822 he was sent as commissioner to Kentucky, and in concert with Henry Clay, on the part of that state, made an agreement concerning the "occupying claimants" law, which threatened to annul the Virginia title to lands in Kentucky. He was an active member of the State constitutional convention in 1829-'30, and in 1834 was elected to the United States senate, as a Whig, to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of William C. Rives, Democrat, who had refused to obey the instructions of the legislature. Mr. Leigh was re-elected at the next session of the legislature, but in 1836, the political complexion of that body having changed, he could not obey his instructions, and in July of this year he resigned and retired to private life. William and Mary gave him the degree of LL.D. in 1835. He published" Reports of Cases in the Court of Appeals, and in the General Court of Virginia" (Richmond 1830-'44). --His cousin, Hezekiah Gilbert, clergyman, born in Perquimans county, North Carolina, 25 November, 1795; died in Mecklenburg county, Virginia, 18 September, 1858, was educated in Murfreesborough, North Carolina, taught for two years, in 1818 joined the Virginia conference of the Methodist Episcopal church, and for thirty-five years occupied responsible charges in that state and in North Carolina. In 1829 he was a founder of Randolph Macon college, Virginia, and subsequently he was one of its principal supporters. In 1849 he was an organizer of the Methodist Episcopal church, south. Randolph Macon college gave him the degree of LL.D. in 1858.
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