Born in Culpeper County, VA, Robert Augustine Thompson was the son of U.S. Congressman Philip Rootes Thompson (1766-1837) and his second wife, Sally Slaughter. Robert A. Thompson attended a private school at Gallipolis, OH, then entered the University of Virginia in Session 1 (1825) to study law. At the beginning of October, 1825, the students rioted, and Thompson was expelled (along with several others) for “arming himself with a stick to resist the authority of two professors.” (Board of Vistors’ Minutes, Oct. 3, 1825, p.97)
Thompson was admitted to the bar in 1826 and began practice at Charleston, Kanawha County, VA (now WV). He was a member of the Virginia State Senate from 1839-1846, a member of the 30th Congress of the United States representing Virginia from 1847-1848, and in 1852 a delegate to the Democratic National Convention and a member of the U.Va. Board of Visitors. Thompson moved to San Francisco, CA in 1853, where he was appointed as a member of a commission to settle private land claims in California. He was appointed in 1870 by the Governor of California as a reporter of the California Supreme Court and was a member of justices’ court of San Francisco from 1870 until his death in San Francisco on 31 Aug. 1876.
Robert A. Thompson married twice, first, on 21 Dec. 1826 to Mary Ann Smith Slaughter, by whom he had the following children: Sarah Elizabeth, Reginald Heber, Mary Mercer, Robert Augustine Jr., Frank Poulson, and Thomas Larkin Thompson (also to become a U.S. Congressman, from California). Thompson’s second wife was Elizabeth Jane Early, whom he married on 30 Jan. 1847. This was a second marriage for both people; Elizabeth’s first husband was Dr. Josiah P. Woods, also a graduate of U.Va. Robert and Elizabeth had the following children: Ruth Hairston, Helena Maria (d. infant), Helena Maria 2nd, Annie Clark, Bessie (d. age 5), and Roberta Augusta Thompson.
- Anderson, Alexis. Cunninghams of Southwest Nova Scotia [website]. http://www.laurenandtristan.net/12JulCunninghamFile/index.htm (Accessed 4/5/2011)
- Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774-present. (http://bioguide.congress.gov) Accessed 4/5/2011.
- Browning, Charles Henry, comp., Some “Colonial Dames” of Royal Descent: Pedigrees Showing the Lineal Descent from Kings of Some Members of the National Society of The Colonial Dames of America, and of the Order of the Crown. Philadelphia, 1900.
- Early, Ruth Hairston, The family of Early, which settled upon the eastern shore of Virginia and its connection with other families. Lynchburg, VA, 1920. (Accessed via books.google.com)
- Green, Raleigh Travers. Genealogical and historical notes on Culpeper County, Virginia. Culpeper, VA, 1900. (Accessed via books.google.com)
- The Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. Board of Visitors’ Minutes, Oct. 3, 1825. (http://guides.lib.virginia.edu/bovminutes) Accessed 4/5/2011.
- The Scotch-Irish in America; proceedings and addresses of the Fifth Congress at Springfield OH., May 11-14, 1893. Nashville, TN: Scotch-Irish Society of America, 1893. (Accessed via books.google.com)