Col Thomas Marshall

(b. April 2, 1730, Westmoreland Co., Va.; d. June 22, 1802, Mason Co.,Ky). Although not formally educated, Thomas Marshall was an intelligent man who found employment through his childhood friend George Washington as one of Lord Thomas Fairfax’s Virginia surveyors and land agents. Throughout his years in Virginia, Marshall served as sheriff, tax collector, magistrate, and representative to the House of Burgesses for Fauquier Co. In 1754 he married Mary Randolph Keith, and they had 15 children. Their oldest son was John Marshall, chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Thomas Marshall was well known for his bravery. As an officer in the 3rd Virginia Regiment during the Revolutionary War, he was given credit for halting the advance of British general Charles Cornwallis’s troops at the Battle of Brandywine and preventing the capture of General Washington’s army. Thomas Jefferson, governor of Virginia, sent Marshall to survey Fayette Co. in the eastern portion of the Kentucky Territory in 1780. He made the 500-mile trip, accompanied by his nephew Humphrey Marshall, in only three weeks. Thomas Marshall then brought his own family to settle in Kentucky in the early 1780s. They arrived at Limestone (present day Maysville) after coming down the Ohio River on a flatboat. Marshall’s position as chief surveyor of Virginia’s Fayette Co. allowed him to lay claim
to valuable lands, since he could claim half of the lands he surveyed as payment for expenses. Marshall established homes in present-day Mason and Woodford counties. President Washington (1789–1797) appointed Marshall the federal tax collector for Kentucky after the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, and Marshall held the post until 1797. Marshall’s friendship with Washington continued throughout their lives. At his plantation at Mount Vernon, Va., Washington planted seeds of native
Kentucky grass and nuts sent to him by Marshall in the 1780s. Several of these seeds were also sent to the Marquis de Lafayette, a French general and hero of the Revolutionary War in America, for planting at Versailles in France. Marshall died in 1802 and was buried at Federal Hill, a Marshall family farm.

Biographical Cyclopedia of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Chicago. John M. Gresham, 1896.
Collins, Richard H. History of Kentucky. Vol. 1. Covington, Ky: Collins, 1882.
Jackson, Donald, and Dorothy Towhig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington, July 1786–December Vol. 5. Charlottesville: Univ. Press of Virginia, 1979. Smith, Jean Edward. John Marshall: Definer of a
Nation. New York: Henry Holt, 1996.
Andrea Watkins


Additional References