Skip to main content

Preston Family Papers

Identifier: Mss. 39.1 P91

  • Staff Only
  • No requestable containers

Scope and Contents

This inventory, chiefly 1786-1815, represents three generations of the Preston family, and likewise can be divided into the following:

Items relating to William Preston (ca. 1729-1783), 1755-1782, primarily photostats of appointments to various county offices (coroner, sheriff and surveyor) and to positions in the Virginia militia; but also including original appointments, 1763 and 1776; a surveyor's entry; 1774; and letters, 1773-1782, to Preston concerning land, the Cherokee Indians and a court martial.

Items, 1785-1819, relating to William's sons, Francis Preston (1765- 1836), lawyer, member of the Virginia Legislature and the U.S. Congress; and his brother John Preston (1764-1827), member of the Virginia Assembly and long-time Treasurer of Virginia, including letters from John Preston to Francis Preston as well as correspondence of the two men with other people. Subjects covered in the letters include politics; the War of 1812; a carriage; the College of William and Mary; duels; the building of a house; and Indians. These papers also contain a certificate, 20 September 1793, of emancipation for a slave signed by Francis Preston; and his appointment of two military aides.

Items relating to the correspondence of William Campbell Preston (1764- 1860), son of Francis Preston, and a member of Congress from South Carolina, including a circular and letter, 1827, concerning protest by citizens of South Carolina of a protective tariff.


  • Creation: 1755-1836
  • Creation: Majority of material found in 1786-1815


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access:

Collection is open to all researchers. Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, such as the Virginia Public Records Act (Code of Virginia. § 42.1-76-91); and the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (Code of Virginia § 2.2-3705.5). Confidential material may include, but is not limited to, educational, medical, and personnel records. If sensitive material is found in this collection, please contact a staff member immediately. The disclosure of personally identifiable information pertaining to a living individual may have legal consequences for which the College of William and Mary assumes no responsibility.

Conditions Governing Use:

Before reproducing or quoting from any materials, in whole or in part, permission must be obtained from the Special Collections Research Center, and the holder of the copyright, if not Swem Library.

Family History:

Information about this individual or organization may be available in the Special Collections Research Center Wiki: .


90.00 Linear Feet

Arrangement of Materials:

Organization: This inventory has been organized into four Series: 1. William Preston Papers; 2. Francis Preston Papers; 3. John Preston Papers; 4. William C. Preston Papers. Arrangement: Each folder contains the papers of their creators/persons, identified by series title. Items are then arranged chronologically by date.

Acquisition Information:


Related Materials:

Other related material concerning the Preston family can be found in the Robert Morton Hughes Papers at Old Dominion University.

Several of the items in this collection have been reprinted. These include the letters written between 1786-1813, by John Preston to Francis Preston printed in the William and Mary Quarterly, 2nd Ser., Vol. 1, pp. 42-51 and Vol. 2, pp. 188-193. A list of these items is located below. A typed list is located in the first folder of the collection.

18 May 1786. John Preston to Francis Preston. Series 2, Vol. 1, pp. 42-45. 2 November 1786. John Preston to Francis Preston. Series 2, Vol. 1, pp. 45-47. 26 December 1786. John Preston to Francis Preston. Series 2, Vol. 1, pp. 47-49. 17 February 1787. John Preston to Francis Preston. Series 1, Vol. 27, pp. 203-205. 31 May 1793. John Preston to Francis Preston. Series 2, Vol. 2, pp. 188-189 [dated as 3 May]. 25 Nov. 1794. John Preston to Francis Preston. Series 2, Vol. 2, p. 187. 14 May 1799. John Preston to Francis Preston. Series 2, Vol. 1, pp. 49-51. 19 December 1802. John Preston to Francis Preston. Series 2, Vol. 2, pp. 189-192. 3 March 1813. John Preston to Francis Preston. Series 2, Vol. 2, pp. 192-193.

Some letters are also available in typescript.


Other Information:

Additional information may be found at

Guide to the Preston Family Papers
Finding Aid Authors: Special Collections Staff.
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
The collection description/finding aid is written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Research Center Repository