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Edmund Pendleton

Member of the Virginia House of Burgesses
Born:September 9, 1721
Birthplace:Caroline County, Virginia
Education:Informal (Lawyer)
Work:Licensed to practice Law, 1741; Admitted to practice in general court, 1745; Appointed a Justice of Caroline County, 1751; Member of the Virginia House of Burgesses, 1752-1776; Represented Virginia at the Continental Congress, 1774-75; President of the Virginia Committee of Safety, 1775; President of Virginia Conventions, 1775-76; first Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, appointed reviser of the statute laws of Virginia, 1776; First Judge of the High Court of Chancery, 1777; President of the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, 1778-1803; President of the Virginia Ratification Convention, 1788; Refused appointment to the Federal judiciary, 1788.
Died:October 23, 1803

Edmund Pendleton was another sterling example of public service to a fledgling nation. Born to a poor family and a widowed mother, he was a bright young man who displayed a maturity and sense of duty at a early age. Pendleton received little in the way of formal education, was apprenticed to Colonel Benjamin Robinson, Clerk of Court of Caroline County, at age thirteen, and began practicing law at age twenty. He was admitted to the Virginia Bar in 1745 and was made Justice of the Peace for his native county in 1751. The following year he was elected to the House of Burgesses and then elected a representative to each of five successive Virginia conventions. He was elected president of the last two. He attended the Continental Congress' of 1774 and 1775 while serving as President of Virginia Committee of Safety.

In March of 1777 Pendleton fell from his horse and dislocated his hip. This crippled him for the rest of his life though he continued to serve with the aid of crutches. He had been elected Speaker of the first House of Delegates the preceding year and though unable to attend the first 1777 session, the speakership was held for him until he recovered enough to return the following September. When the Delegates established the Court of Chancery in 1778, Pendleton was nominated as a judge and then elected as the President of that Court in 1779. He was further elevated to the Supreme court of Appeals in 1788. The Virginia Convention to ratify the Federal Constitution met in 1788 with Pendleton again representing his county; that convention too, elected him President.

Known always as a modest and honorable man, Edmund Pendleton spent his entire life in service to the people of Virginia. In 1788, Washington appointed him to the new Federal Judiciary, a job which he declined due to advancing age. He continued to serve as the President of the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals until his death in 1803.

Sources: EPB
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