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Humphrey Marshall

Humphrey Marshall was born in 1760 to John and Mary Quisenberry Marshall of Virginia.  John Marshall purchased a farm in Fauquier County for he and Mary to raise their family.  Most of their children later came to Kentucky where they became prominent.  There is no record of Humphrey's education, however it is said that he was taught to read by his cousin. At age eighteen, Humphrey enlisted for three years in the Virginia artillery regiment, where he obtained the rank of Captain.

Humphrey visited, for a short time, in Kentucky during the fall of 1781.  His father had come earlier and settled in what is now Bourbon County and lived there until his death. In 1782 Humphrey returned to Kentucky with Colonel Thomas Marshall to settle permanently. However, Humphrey wanted to obtain his military land warrant for service in the Revolution.  He returned to Virginia in 1782 to secure his land warrant for four thousand acres in Kentucky. He first settled in Lexington and was one of the early purchasers of lots in the town in 1783.  He lived at various times in Bourbon, Woodford and Franklin Counties.  Humphrey had now established himself in Kentucky and in 1784 he returned to Virginia to marry his cousin, Mary Ann Marshall. Their children were; John J., Thomas A., and Eliza.

Humphrey began to gain prominence and wealth from his law practice and land speculation, however he made many enemies for his Federalist views. It is not known when he studied law, although it is assumed it was while he held the position of deputy in the Surveyors office in Lexington. Humphrey had a deep desire to hold public office.  He was deputy surveyor of Fayette County in 1782; then Deputy Lieutenant of Bourbon County and in 1784 a delegate from Kentucky to the Virginia State Convention.  In 1785, 1787 and 1789, he was a member of the Convention in Danville.  Virginia held a convention for consideration of the adoption of the present Federal Constitution and each county in the District of Kentucky could sent two delegates.  Humphrey was one of the delegates from Fayette County. Then in 1790 he was surveyor of Woodford County and in 1793 and 1794 he was a member of the lower house of the Kentucky Legislature from Woodford County.  He was elected to the U.S. Senate from Kentucky in 1795, over John Breckinridge, serving until 1801. In 1807-1809 and 1823 Marshall represented Franklin County in the State Legislature, being defeated in 1810.  In 1812 and 1813 he was Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the town of Frankfort.

Humphrey moved to Woodford County to live on one of the tracts of land he owned.  And, in 1790 was appointed surveyor of the County, by Governor Beverly Randolph of Virginia.  Marshall was elected to the lower house of the Kentucky Legislature in 1793 and 1794, where he acquired popularity for his efforts on behalf of the people.  In 1807, he was again elected to the lower house in spite of his Federalist views.  In 1823, Humphrey was again elected to the Legislature, which would be his last appearance in public life. During this time the Old Court and New Court became an explosive issue and Humphrey was a partisan of the Old Court system. He was a prolific writer and in 1810 became editor of the American Republic, the only Federalist paper in the state. Humphrey was a man of strong convictions and had the courage to write very candidly.

Mary Marshall died in 1824 and was buried at the Matt Gay Place in Woodford County, Kentucky.  After her death, Humphrey continued to live at Glen Willis.  In 1840 he returned to Fayette County to live with his son until his death on July 3, 1841.  It has been stated that his body was brought to Leestown and buried at Glen Willis.  However, since no marker has been located, the burial place of Humphrey Marshall remains unknown.


Through the Portals of Glen Willis, Franklin County Trust for Historic Preservation

Forks of Elkhorn Church, by Ermina Jett Darnell



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