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John Marshall studied law at William & Mary under the tutelage of George Wythe in 1780. Marshall was the fourth chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. John Marshall (1755-1835) was born near Germantown, Prince William (currently Fauquier) County, Virginia on 24 September 1755 to parents Thomas Marshall and Mary Randolph Keith. From 1775-1781, Marshall served in the Continental Army and fought in the Revolutionary War. During the spring and summer of 1780, Marshall attended classes at William & Mary and received his license to practice law.

After the war, he moved to Richmond, Virginia and began his practice. Marshall married Mary Willis Ambler in 1783. The couple had ten children, six of whom survived to adulthood. He was elected as a delegate to the Virginia House of Delegates in 1780 and 1782-1788. Later, he was appointed by President John Adams to a special commission to France from 1797-1798. The commission, which brought about the famous XYZ Affair, failed to settle existing differences between France and the U.S. From 1799-1800, Marshall served as a Federalist representative in the 6th United States Congress. He did not serve out his term however, as he was appointed by Adams to serve as U.S. Secretary of State from 1800-1801. Later, Marshall received yet another appointment from Adams this time to the bench as the fourth chief justice of the Supreme Court. He was confirmed by the Senate on 27 January 1801 and served until his death on 6 July 1835. In addition to hearing 1,215 cases and authoring 514 opinions, Marshall also wrote, The Life of George Washington, a book in 5 volumes. Marshall was buried in New Burying Ground, Richmond, Virginia.

Marshall Family Bible

The Marshall Family Bible is on display at William & Mary's Wolf Law Library.

Material in the Special Collections Research Center


  • Johnson, Herbert A., Charles T. Cullen, Nancy G. Harris, Charles F. Hobson, and others eds.The Papers of John Marshall.10 vols. to date. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1974- .Call Number: E302 .M365 v.1 - v.10 Mason, Frances Norton.
  • My Dearest Polly: Letters of Chief Justice John Marshall to His Wife, With Their Background, Political and Domestic, 1779-1831. Richmond: Garrett & Massie, 1961. Call Number: E302.6 .M4 M33
  • Oliver, Andrew, The Portraits of John Marshall. Charlottesville: Institute of Early American History and Culture, University Press of Virginia, 1977. Call Number: E302.6 .M4 O44
  • Rhodes, Irwin S.The Papers of John Marshall, A Descriptive Calendar. 2 vols. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, [1969]. Call Number: KF213 .M3 R5 v.1 - v.2.


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A note about the contents of this site

This website contains the best available information from known sources at the time it was written. Unfortunately, many of the early original records of William & Mary were destroyed by fires, military occupation, and the normal effects of time. The information in this website is not complete, and it changes as we continue to research and uncover new sources.