Gwathmey family

A Guide to the Gwathmey Family Papers, 1790–1982
Call Number Mss1 G9957 c FA2
(Part of the Virginia Heritage: Guides to Manuscripts & Archival Collections in Virginia)
View the Guide


Main Entry:Gwathmey Family
Title:Papers, 1790-1982
Size:ca. 10,000 items (55 boxes)
Biographical Note:

This collection of Gwathmey papers includes diaries, letters, accounts, scrapbooks, speeches, clippings, and other records representing four generations of this prominent King William County family. From their family seat at “Burlington,” the Gwathmey’s were active in the political, social, and religious life of the county for more than two centuries.

Joseph Hardin Gwathmey and his wife, Jeannette Garnett (Ryland) Gwathmey, had five children, three of whom, John Ryland Gwathmey (1888-1982), Anna Garnett Gwathmey (1879-1979), and Mary Burnley Gwathmey (1883-1974), are prominent in this collection. While John Ryland Gwathmey inherited “Burlington,” researchers should note that his two sisters spent a great deal of their adult lives at the family home. Letters addressed to “the Gwathmey’s,” “the Burlington Gwathmey’s,” “Anna and John,” or “Anna, Mary Burnley and John,” have been filed with the general correspondence of John Ryland Gwathmey. Other letters, addressed to both Anna and Mary Burnley Gwathmey, have been filed with the general correspondence of Anna Garnett Gwathmey.

With the exception of the years he spent at Virginia Polytechnic Institute (Now Virginia Polytechnic University and State University), John Ryland Gwathmey spent his entire life at “Burlington.” JRG supervised farming and timber operations on the family estate and appraised real estate in King William and nearby counties. He was also a member of the county board of supervisors and of Beulah Baptist Church.


The collection begins with the papers of Joseph Gwathmey, (1758-1824), a planter, major in the state militia, and deacon of the Beulah Baptist Church. These records consist of an account book, loose accounts, and estate materials. Major Gwathmey’s account book also contains records of his children’s births and lists of horses. Most of his papers, however, concern his estate and include the records of executors, Richard Gwathmey (1789-1866), John Hill Gwathmey (1798-1839), and William Gwathmey (1794-1875). Two accounts books contain copies of Joseph Gwathmey’s will, inventories, appraisals, and accounts and expenses. Loose estate materials include accounts, inventories, an indenture selling land to Nathaniel Boush Hill, and an 1836 appraisal of slaves.

Provenance:Gift of the Burlington-Gwathmey Memorial Foundation, 1987.