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John Carlyle

February 6, 1720–c. October 17, 1780 — Virginia Merchant

John Carlyle was a prominent Virginia merchant and member of the Ohio Company.

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Carlyle was born in England and eventually emigrated to the colony of Virginia. He became a wealthy merchant and joined the Ohio Company, along with Augustine and Lawrence Washington. Carlyle was instrumental in the founding of Alexandria, Virginia, and was one of the first trustees of the city. In 1755, he received General Edward Braddock at his home in Alexandria, Virginia, and hosted five colonial governors in what is known as the Council of Alexandria, or Carlyle House Congress. He was a patriot and supported the American Revolution.

Facts About His Early Life, Education, and Family

  • Born in England on February 6, 1720.
  • His parents were William Carlyle and Rachel Murray Carlyle.
  • Served as an apprentice to William Hicks in the port town of Whitehaven.
  • Joined relatives in  Virginia in 1741.
  • Married Sarah Fairfax on December 31, 1747. They had seven children together. Sarah died on January 22, 1761.
  • Married Sybil West on October 22, 1761. They had three sons together, but two died in infancy. Sybil died on March 17, 1769, due to complications from her fourth pregnancy.

Facts About His Political and Professional Career

  • Registered as an agent working on behalf of William Hicks on July 27, 1741.
  • Joined the Ohio Company, along with Augustine and Lawrence Washington, the older brothers of George Washington.
  • Participated in successfully petitioning the General Assembly to establish a new seaport town, which would become Alexandria.
  • Named one of the eleven trustees of Alexandria by the General Assembly in 1749.
  • Was named justice of the peace in Fairfax County in 1750,
  • Ended his partnership with Hicks in the 1750s.
  • Built the Carlyle House in the 1750s.
  • Formed partnerships that allowed him to conduct business in the British Isles, Caribbean, and in Europe.

Facts About His Role in the French and Indian War

  • Helped supply Virginia’s military expedition to the Ohio River in 1754.
  • Hosted General Edward Braddock in early 1755, and governors from five colonies in what is known as the Conference of Alexandria or the Carlyle House Conference.
  • Commissioned as a Colonel in the militia in 1755.

Facts About His Life During the American Revolution

  • Carlyle supported Virginia’s opposition to British taxation policies.
  • His son, George William Carlyle served under Henry “Light-Horse Harry” Lee and was killed at the Battle of Eutaw Springs on September 8, 1781. He was 15 years old.

Facts About His Later Years

  • Carlyle died around October 16, 1780.
  • He was buried at the Old Presbyterian Meeting House in Alexandria, next to his first wife and their children.
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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title John Carlyle
  • Coverage February 6, 1720–c. October 17, 1780
  • Author
  • Keywords John Carlyle, Edward Braddock, French and Indian War, Carlyle House Congress, Council of Alexandria
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date November 28, 2021
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update April 28, 2021
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