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Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century biographies contain errors and bias. We rely on volunteers to edit the historic biographies on a continual basis. If you would like to edit this biography please submit a rewritten biography in text form . If acceptable, the new biography will be published above the 19th Century Appleton's Cyclopedia Biography citing the volunteer editor





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William Cabell

CABELL, William, surgeon, born near Warminster, England, 9 March, 1700; died near Warminster, Nelson County, Virginia, 12 April, 1774. He was the son of Nicholas, an English gentleman belonging to the Cabells of Devon and Somersetshire, whose estates were confiscated, either wholly or in part, because of their allegiance to Cromwell. One of the finest specimens of mediaeval glass that has survived the iconoclasm of the Roundheads is in the church of St. John of Frome Selwood, which preserves the Cabell arms in the four panels of a chapel-window. According to tradition, Dr. William Cabell was a surgeon in the British navy, who was captivated by the Virginian climate, resigned his commission about 1723, and procured extensive grants of land along James river, in the present counties of Buckingham, Nelson, Appomattox, and Amherst. The patent for these was issued 12 September, 1738. Dr. Cabell married Elizabeth Birks, but whether in England or America is uncertain. In 1735 he was called to England by the death of his father, and left his wife in charge of the Virginia property. He remained in England for nearly six years, settling the estates of his father and other recently deceased relatives and practicing his profession.

On his return he made his home on his patented lands, and was appointed assistant surveyor, an office that enabled him to increase his already generous estate by a large addition of valuable lands, though not equal in fertility to those at first obtained. He promoted immigration, established a private hospital near his residence, and made professional visits far and near, charging from £1 to £5 for a visit, according to the distance traveled. For amputating an arm the charge was £7 10s., or £12 to £15 if "a cure was guaranteed." He had apparently a genuine enthusiasm for his profession, and executive abilities of a high order to carry on such extensive enterprises in a professional way as well as superintending his landed interests and filling acceptably the local offices that he held. His first wife, by whom alone he had issue, died 21 September, 1756, and on 27 September, 1762, he married Mrs. Margaret Meredith (a widow), who died 26 February, 1765. Dr. Cabell had six children, a daughter and five sons; and all of the sons save one, who died in childhood, attained eminence.

--William, the eldest (commonly known as Col. William Cabell, Sr., of Union Hill), born at Licking Hole, Goochland County, Virginia, 18 March, 1780; died at Union Hill, 23 March, 1798, received the best education attainable in the colony. When he had learned to read at eight years of age his father sent him from England "a Bible, a prayer-book, and a small gun." He became sheriff of Albemarle County in 1751, and from that time was constantly in responsible positions, assistant surveyor for the county in 1758, '" his majesty's presiding justice " and member of the house of burgesses in 1757, commissioner for settling militia claims in 1758, and first presiding magistrate for the United States after the declaration of independence. During all this time he was an active promoter of schemes for improving James River and for increasing the educational and commercial advantages of the colony. About 1773 he aided in establishing iron-works on Hardware river. He was a member of the house of burgesses when the colonies revolted against Great Britain, and a delegate to all the conventions looking toward national independence. He was chosen first state senator from the eighth district, and was a member of the committee that prepared the famous "declaration of rights."

Throughout the revolution he was active, in both public and private capacity, in promoting measures for an efficient civil and military service. On 7 January, 1789, he was for the last time a candidate for a public office, that of presidential elector, and received the vote of every man that was polled. He cast his vote for Washington as first president of the United States. He left his estate of 20,000 acres and a large number of slaves "free from debt and every other incumbrance."--Joseph (of Sion Hill), the second son, born 19 September, 1732; died at Sion Hill, 1 March, 1798. For many years he held important civil offices in his native state, occupying a seat in the house of burgesses and serving as a member of the different conventions. During the war for independence he commanded the Buckingham county regiment, and was joined, while on the way to take part in the siege of Yorktown, by the students of William and Mary College, who had formed a company and volunteered to accompany him.--William H., youngest son of Dr. William Cabell, born at Boston Hill, Cumberland County, Virginia, 16 December, 1772; died in Richmond, 17 January, 1853, was educated at Hampden-Sidney and William and Mary Colleges, being graduated in 1793. In 1794 he was admitted to the bar in Richmond. He married Elizabeth, youngest daughter of Col. William Cabell, in 1795, who died in 1801. He was first a member of the house of delegates in 1796, and was frequently re-elected until 1805, when he was chosen governor. The same year he married Agnes Sarah Bell, daughter of Col. Robert Gamble, of Richmond, and sister of Mrs. Wirts, of Richmond. In the mean while he had twice served as a presidential elector. He was governor for three years, when he was elected a judge of the general court, and in 1811 a judge of the court of appeals, of which last he was president at the time of his death.

--Samuel Jordan Cabell, eldest son of Col. William Cabell, Sr., born in Amherst County, Virginia, 15 December, 1756; died 4 August, 1818. He received a classical education, mainly in private schools, and entered William and Mary College in 1773. When the colonies revolted against Great Britain he was a student, but at once left College, raised a company of riflemen in his native county, and entered the continental service. This company was in all the northern campaigns, and is said to have opened the engagement at the battle of Saratoga. Capt. Cabell was rapidly promoted major and lieutenant colonel, and when the seat of war was transferred to the south accompanied General Greene with his regiment. At the siege of Charleston he was taken prisoner and paroled; but, failing to secure an exchange, was inactive till the close of the war. During the formative period of the government he was almost continuously a member of the state legislature, and in 1788 sat as his father's colleague in the convention that passed upon the proposed federal constitution, and both of them voted against its adoption. From 1785 till 1803 he served in congress. He married Sarah, daughter of Col. John Syme, of Hanover County, Virginia

--George Craighead, grandson of Joseph of Sion Hill, was born in Danville, Kentucky, 25 January, 183'7. He was one of a family of twenty children. His father removed to Kentucky in 1811. He was educated at home and at Danville academy. As his father had suffered pecuniary losses, he engaged in teaching while he studied law and saved the means to complete his professional studies at the University of Virginia. He began to practice law in 1858, and the same year was elected commonwealth's attorney, which office he held until 1861, when he enlisted as a private in the 18th Virginia infantry, and was rapidly promoted to major and lieutenant colonel. He took part in most of the hard fighting of the Army of Northern Virginia during the civil war and was thrice wounded, a bullet in the last instance entering his face and passing out at the back of his head. He was promoted colonel of cavalry in 1865. Resuming his law practice immediately after the close of hostilities, he soon retrieved his wrecked fortunes, and was elected to the 44th and 45th congresses, representing the conservative democratic element of his state.

--James Laurence Cabell, son of Dr. George Cabell, Jr., born in Nelson County, Virginia, 26 August, 1813. He was graduated at the University of Virginia in 1833, and after a course of medical study there and in Baltimore and Philadelphia went to Paris, and while pursuing his studies there was elected to the chair of anatomy and surgery in the University of Virginia. He was chairman of the faculty, a place corresponding to that of president in other institutions, in 1846-'7. During the civil war he had charge of military hospitals for the Confederate government. In the year of the yellow fever epidemic at Memphis he was chosen chairman of the National sanitary conference at Washington, and subsequently president of the National board of health. Dr. Cabell is a contributor to medical journals, and is the author of "The Testimony of Modern Science to the Unity of Mankind" (New York, 1858).--Edward Calrington, third son of William H., was born in Richmond, 5 February, 1816. He received a classical education in the schools of Richmond, and afterward studied at Lexington and at the University of Virginia, including the law section, in 1834 and 1836. Removing to Florida, he was elected to congress by the Whigs, serving during four terms from 1845 till 1853. In 1852 he delivered a speech in congress on the fortification of Key West and the Tortugas, which is said to have secured the appropriation for the protection of those important points. In 1850 he married Anna Maria Wilcox, a daughter of Mrs. John J. Crittenden by a former husband. During the civil war he was for a time in the Confederate army. He wrote an elaborate account of Florida, which was published first in the "National Intelligencer" and afterward in "De Bow's Review."

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