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Humphrey Marshall


Humphrey Marshall was born in 1760 in Fauquier County, Virginia. He was sent to live with his uncle, Thomas Marshall, where he and his cousins were instructed by tutors and family members. In 1778 Marshall joined the Virginia forces, and in 1781 became a captain-lieutenant in a Virginia artillery regiment. He moved to Fayette County, Kentucky in 1782 where he joined his uncle, Thomas Marshall, and became the deputy surveyor of Fayette County. It was in 1782 that Marshall received title to some 4,000 acres of land for his services in the Revolutionary war. He would go on to become one of the largest owners of land in Kentucky.

Marshall studied law and became an attorney. He was involved in various political disputes of the date, some of them quite contentious, leading to violence.

He moved to Woodford County in 1790 and again became a surveyor. In 1793 and 1794 he was elected to the Kentucky legislature. In 1795 he was elected to the United States Senate but served only a single term. Marshall returned to Kentucky politics with his election the house of the legislature in 1807, 1808, and 1809. A conflict with Henry Clay in 1809, and an act by Clay that he considered an insult, resulted in Clay and Marshall leaving Kentucky to cross the Ohio River where they fought a duel in Indiana with both men being wounded.

Marshall, after the Clay duel, wrote one of the first histories of Kentucky, first published in 1812, The History of Kentucky, was updated and published in two volumes in 1824.

Ellis Merton Coulter, whose biographical sketch provided the source for this short bio, notes that Marshall "now and then wrote verse."

[Source: Ellis Merton Coulter, "Humphrey Marshall," in Dictionary of American Biography (American Council of Learned Societies, 1928-1936)]

Humphrey Marshall
Biographical Directory of the United States Congress

Humphrey Marshall

Humphrey Marshall
H. Levin (ed.), Lawyers and Lawmakers of Kentucky 171
(Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, 1897)


Humphrey Marshall, A review of the reports to the Board of Agriculture from the Eastern Department of England (London: Printed by Thomas Wilson & Son, 1802) [online text]

_______________, The Rural Economy of the West of England (London, 1805)(2 vols.) [vol. 1: online text] [vol. 2: online text]

_________, The History of Kentucky exhibiting an account of the modern discovery, settlement, progressive improvement, civil and military transactions, and the present state of the country (Frankfort, Kentucky: G.S. Robinson, 1824)(2 vols.) [vol. 1: online text]


Anderson Chenault Quisenberry, The Life and Times of Hon. Humphrey Marshall: sometime an officer in the Revolutionary War ... senator in Congress from 1795 to 1801 (Winchester, Kentucky: Sun Pub. Co., 1892) [online text]

Thomas Bodley, Report of the Select Committee appointed to investigate certain charges against Humphrey Marshall February 9, 1808 (Lexington, Kentucky: General Assembly, House of Representatives, 1808)

Research Resources

Humphrey Marshall Papers
Kentucky Historical Society
Frankfort, Kentucky