Dabney Carr was born on April 27, 1773, at Spring Forest, a Goochland County, Virginia, plantation just three weeks before the death of his father, also named Dabney Carr, brother-in-law and close friend of Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson took an active role in the support and education of his nephew after his father’s death. He attended Hampden-Sydney College and returned home to study law with William Wirt, who was just one year older. The two men remained friends for the rest of their lives. An extensive collection of their letters can be found in the Manuscripts Department, Library of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Dabney Carr, 1826. Library of Congress
He married his paternal cousin, Elizabeth Carr in June of 1802.
Carr started practice in Albemarle County and, in 1811, became Chancellor of the Winchester District. Using the pseudonym Obediah Squaretoes, Carr contributed an article to William Wirt’s The Old Bachelor (1814). In 1824, he was elected a judge of the Court of Appeals and held this office until his death on January 8, 1837.
He is interred in Richmond’s Shockoe Hill Cemetery.
His nephew, Dabney Smith Carr, was a newspaper publisher and later was U.S. Minister to Turkey (1843–49).
- John T. Kneebone et al., eds., Dictionary of Virginia Biography (Richmond, 2006), 3:27-28.