Dabney Carr (April 27, 1773 – January 8, 1837) was the son of Thomas Jefferson's sister Martha (1746-1811) and his close friend Dabney Carr (1743-1773).[1] Following his father's death in 1773, young Dabney spent much of his early life at Monticello under Thomas Jefferson's care.

Prior to leaving for Europe in 1784, Jefferson entrusted his eleven-year-old nephew to the care of James Madison, who enrolled the boy at Hampden-Sydney College. Carr attended Hampden-Sydney from 1786 to 1789, but did not take a degree. In 1790, he entered the Reverend Matthew Maury's boarding school in Albemarle County to expand his knowledge of Greek and French. Three years later Carr decided to study law, and Jefferson gave him full access to his library. Carr was admitted to the Virginia bar in 1796 and set up practice in Charlottesville. He  married a cousin, Elizabeth Carr, in June of 1802.

From 1801 to 1811, Carr served as commonwealth's attorney for Albemarle County. In March 1811, he was appointed a state judge on an interim basis but failed to win confirmation from the general assembly. He was appointed and confirmed as a judge of the new chancery court at Winchester in January 1812.

In 1825 Jefferson hoped to convince Carr to oversee instruction in law at the fledgling University of Virginia; but, in February 1824, Carr had been elected a judge on the Virginia Court of Appeals and he served in that capacity for the rest of his life.[2] He died on January 8, 1837, and was buried in Shockoe Cemetery in Richmond.[3]

Further Sources


  1. ^ For Carr's birth date, see "Register of St. James Northan [sic] Parish, Goochland County," William and Mary Quarterly vol. 15, no. 2 (1906): 119.
  2. ^ See Jefferson to Carr, April 3, 1825, Chicago Historical Society (transcription available at Founders Online); Carr to Jefferson, April 30, 1825, Thomas Jefferson Papers, Library of Congress (transcription available at Founders Online).
  3. ^ Richmond Whig & Public Advertiser, January 10, 1837.