Patrick Henry Aylett (25 Aug. 1808-28 Jan. 1829) and William Aylett (11 Dec. 1806-11 Feb. 1829) were sons of Phillip Aylett (1767-1835) and his wife, Elizabeth (Henry) Aylett (1769-1842), the daughter of Patrick Henry. The Aylett family lived at Fairfield and at Montville in King William County, VA, the two halves of the original Crown grant that was divided at the beginning of the 19th century. [N.B. Birthdates for Patrick Henry and William Aylett are from the Matriculation Books.]
Patrick attended sessions 2-5 (1826-1829) at U.Va. and William attended sessions 2-4 (1826-1828). A localized epidemic of typhoid started at the University in the winter of 1829, affecting some twenty of the students. Patrick died in Charlottesville on 28 Jan., “whilst a student at the University of Virginia.” (Tombstone of Patrick Henry Aylett) To remove the majority of the students from danger, the University was closed on Feb. 1 and the students were sent home. William died two weeks later at Montville, though the cause of his death is not known. Both Patrick and William are buried in the family cemetery at Fairfield. The college reopened on April 1.
Philip and Elizabeth Aylett had several other children; the eldest surviving to adulthood was Philip Aylett (1787-1848). This son, known as General Philip Aylett for his service in the Virginia state militia, married Judith Page Waller (1794-1850). Two of their sons also attended U.Va., namely Patrick Henry Aylett and William Roane Aylett.
Patrick Henry Aylett (11 May 1825-27 April 1870) attended first, Washington College in Lexington, VA, then U.Va. in session 21 (1844-1845), and finally, Harvard College, from which he graduated in 1846 with a degree in law. He practiced law in Richmond and in King William County for several years, before being appointed as U.S. District Attorney for the eastern district of Virginia by President James Buchanan. In 1861, he was reappointed to this position for the Confederate States by President Jefferson Davis.
On 24 Feb 1853, Patrick married Emily Ann Rutherfoord (1830-1880), and the couple had three children: Emily, Sarah Bennett, and Judith Page Aylett. After the war, he continued to practice law, and became one of the editors of the Richmond newspaper, the Examiner and Enquirer. He was killed when the floor of the Court of Appeals room in the State Capitol gave way on 27 April, 1870, dropping several hundred people into the Hall of the House of Delegates on the floor below. At least sixty people were killed, and more than one hundred others injured in the disaster. Patrick Henry Aylett is buried in Shockoe Hill Cemetery, Richmond City, VA.
William Roane Aylett (14 May 1833- 8 Aug. 1900) was born at Montville and attended U.Va. in sessions 27-30 (1850-1854). After graduation he immediately began practicing law in King William County. On 3 July 1860, William married Alice R. Brockenbrough (1838-1895). The couple had twelve children, of which only seven survived childhood: Sarah, Martha Waller, Philip, Alice Page, Dr. William Roane, Elizabeth, and Patrick Henry Aylett.
He volunteered for Confederate service at the first call in 1861 and raised a full company of volunteers from the Tidewater area, called the “Taylor Greys.” In April, 1862, the company was reorganized as Company D, 53rd Regiment Virginia Infantry, with William R. Aylett as its Captain, then Major, then Colonel. After fighting in many of the early battles of the Civil War, Col. Aylett was wounded at Gettysburg on 3 July 1863. He was captured late in the war, and sent to the prison on Johnson’s Island, OH.
After the war, Col. Aylett resumed his practice of law, and served as Commonwealth’s Attorney for King William County for seventeen years. He died in 1900 and is buried in Saint David’s Episcopal Church Cemetery, Aylett, VA.
[Note: The birth date of Patrick Henry Aylett (1825-1870) is as noted in the U.Va. Matriculation Books. –JLC]
- Aylett Graves at Fairfield Plantation. Findagrave.com. (Accessed 4/27/2011)
- “Aylett, Patrick Henry,” in Tyler, Lyon Gardiner, Encyclopedia of Virginia biography, v. 3. New York, 1915. Accessed via books.google.com.
- Bruce, Philip Alexander. History of the University of Virginia, 1819-1919. Accessed via books.google.com.
- Clarke, Peyton Neale. Old King William homes and families. Louisville, KY, 1897.
- National Park Service. U.S. Civil War Soldiers, 1861-1865 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007.
- Pollard, H. R. “William Roane Aylett.” Virginia Law Register, New Series, v.6, no.8 (Dec., 1920), pp. 570-572.
- Special Dispatch to the New-York Times. “A Fearful Disaster: Fall of the Floor of a Crowded Court-Room in Richmond…” New York Times (1857-1922), April 28, 1870. http://www.proquest.com/ (accessed April 27, 2011).
- University of Virginia Matriculation Books, 1825-1904, Accession #RG-14/4/2.041, Special Collections Dept., University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, Va.