Tunstall Family (Virginia)

Alexander Augustine Tunstall (10 Sep. 1850-20 Apr. 1935) was the son of Whitmell Pugh Tunstall (1810-1854), a lawyer and legislator from Chatham, Virginia, who served in both the Virginia House of Delegates and the Virginia Senate, and his second wife, Mary M. Liggat (1821-1888). Whitmell P. Tunstall was a long-time promoter of the Richmond and Danville Railroad, and he persuaded the Virginia legislature to approve its charter in 1847. This couple is buried in the Tunstall Cemetery in Pittsylvania County, Va. (Clement; Tyler; Findagrave.com)

Alexander A. Tunstall attended the University of Virginia in sessions 45-46 (1868-1870), where he studied Latin, Greek, Mathematics, and Modern Languages. After graduation, he lived in Lynchburg, Virginia, and became a lawyer. He married Ida M. Gray (1851-1923) on 26 Oct. 1876, and they had four children: Benjamin Gray, Susan Reid, Whitmell Pugh, and Alexander Liggat Tunstall. (1880 U.S. Census; Ancestral File; Findagrave.com)

In 1882, Alexander Tunstall was appointed by the Virginia General Assembly as a member of the governors of the Lynchburg Street Railway Company. (Virginia General Assembly. Acts and Joint Resolutions) Sometime after the birth of his youngest son, Alexander L. Tunstall, the family moved to Washington, D. C., where Alexander A. Tunstall worked as a real estate broker. He and his wife lived in the capitol from about 1890 to 1930. Alexander and Ida are buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Norfolk, Virginia.

In the Librarian of Congress’s annual report for 1936, one of the acquisitions listed for that year was the private library of Alexander A. Tunstall consisting of “2,444 volumes.” (Annual report of the Librarian of Congress, 1936)

Dr. Robert Baylor Tunstall (1818-1883) of Norfolk County, Virginia, was the son of Alexander Tunstall (b. 1787) and his wife, Elizabeth Todd Baylor. He was educated at Hampden-Sidney College, and then earned his medical degree at the University of Pennsylvania. He was a third cousin of Alexander Augustine Tunstall; Robert Baylor’s great-grandfather, John Tunstall, was the brother of Alexander’s great-grandfather, William. John and William were sons of Colonel Richard Tunstall (b. ca. 1700) of King and Queen County, Virginia.

Upon the completion of his studies, Dr. Tunstall set up his practice in the city of Norfolk, where he stayed his entire life. He was one of the foremost physicians in Norfolk County for forty years, and participated in the civic life of the city. During the Civil War, he was a surgeon in the Confederate forces. His wife was Elizabeth Walke Williamson (1821-1872), of Henrico County, Virginia, whom he married on 7 Jan. 1840. Their children, in order of birth, were Baynham Baylor Tunstall, Alexander Tunstall, Virginia Williamson Tunstall, Anne McClenahan Tunstall, Richard Baylor Tunstall, Robert Williamson Tunstall, Thomas Williamson Tunstall (d. young), William Brooke Tunstall, Sallie Henderson Tunstall (d. young), and Bettie Williamson Tunstall (d. young). The eldest son, Alexander, attended the College of William and Mary; Richard, Robert and William attended the University of Virginia, and their stories are told below. Dr. Robert Tunstall and his wife, Elizabeth, are buried in Elmwood Cemetery, Norfolk.

Richard Baylor Tunstall (1 Jul. 1848-11 Oct. 1919) entered the Virginia Military Institute in 1864 with the class of 1867. He served in the Cadet Battalion (as a private in Company B) in the Battle of Newmarket in May, 1864. It is likely he left VMI at the end of the Civil War—in any case, there is no record that he graduated. (Couper; VMI) He attended the University of Virginia in sessions 42-44 (1865-1868), where he studied the classics, earning a Master of Arts degree, and joined Phi Kappa Psi fraternity. He taught for a year, then returned to U.Va. to earn a law degree in session 46 (1869-1870). (Stewart)

Richard practiced law in New York City from 1871-1883, first with the firm of Kaufmann, Tunstall & Wagoner, later with the firm of Grimball & Tunstall. In 1878, he married Isabel Mercein Heiser (1850-1905) of New York City. Their children were: Robert Baylor (who attended UVA post-1874), Rosalie Mercein (d. young), Richard (d. young), Lola (d. young), and Cuthbert Tunstall (who also attended UVA post-1874). The family moved back to Norfolk in 1883, where he practiced law in the firm of White, Tunstall & Thom, and served as a director of the Norfolk Railway & Light Company. His law firm developed a new suburb of Norfolk which was called the “Ghent Addition.” (Stewart; Tyler)

Richard Baylor Tunstall died at his home in Norfolk in 1919. In his will, he bequeathed $5,000 to the University of Virginia and “directed that the income derived therefrom be annually invested in the purchase of books for ‘The Isabel Mercein Tunstall Library of Poetry,’ which was started by Mr. Tunstall during his lifetime as a memorial to his wife and which has become a most valuable asset to the Library of the University.” (Peninsula Enterprise, 13 Dec. 1919) Richard and his wife, Isabel, are buried in Elmwood Cemetery, Norfolk.

Robert Williamson Tunstall (18 Dec. 1851-21 Nov. 1917) attended the University of Virginia in sessions 48-50 (1871-1874). After his graduation, Robert was the secretary of a businessman in Norfolk for four years. After that he was a reporter on the Baltimore “American” newspaper for a year. From 1882-1900, he was the principal of Norfolk Academy, and from 1900-1917[?], he was professor of Latin and Greek and head of the classical department at the Jacob Tome Institute (now called the Tome School), in Port Deposit, Maryland. From 1905, he was also the assistant director of the school. On 3 Sep. 1901, he married Isabel McRoberts (1870-1940) of Washington, D.C. He was a member of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity. Robert and his wife, Isabel, are buried in Elmwood Cemetery, Norfolk, VA. (Peninsula Enterprise, 1905; Phi Kappa Psi; Washington Times, 1901; Washington Herald, 1917)

William Brooke Tunstall (9 Jan. 1856-28 May 1917) attended the University of Virginia in sessions 50-51 (1873-1875). In his first year at U.Va. he joined Phi Kappa Psi. He became a tobacco merchant in Baltimore, Maryland. On 12 Feb. 1884, he married Eleanor “Nellie” Pratt Turner (1861-1937). (Brooke) Their children were: Robertson Taylor, William Brooke Jr., and Eleanor G. Tunstall (d. infant). William and his wife, Nellie, are buried in Elmwood Cemetery, Norfolk, Va.


“An Act to incorporate the Lynchburg Street Railway Company… Approved March 3, 1882,” in General Assembly of Virginia, Acts and Joint Resolutions passed by the General Assembly of the State of Virginia during the session of 1881-82. Richmond, Va., 1882, p.205-206.

“Ancestral File,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/2:1:MW6R-6ZB : accessed 2015-05-21), entry for Alexander Augustine TURNSTALL.

Annual report of the Librarian of Congress. Washington, D. C., 1936.

Brooke, St. George Tucker, “The Brooke Family of Virginia (cont.).” Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, v.14, no.4, p.436-440.

Clement, Maud Carter. The history of Pittsylvania County, Virginia. Baltimore, MD, Clearfield, 2001. (reprint of 1929 edition.), p.242.

Couper, William, editor. The Corps Forward: The Biographical Sketches of the VMI Cadets who Fought in the Battle of New Market. Lexington, VA, 2005, p 208.

“Died [Robert W. Tunstall].” Washington Herald (Washington, D.C.), 22 Nov. 1917, p.15. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045433/1917-11-22/ed-1/seq-15/&gt;

Phi Kappa Psi, Catalogue of the Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity. Columbus, OH, 1894.

“Richard B. Tunstall dies,” New York Times, 13 Oct. 1919.

“Richard Baylor Tunstall,” in Historical Records Database, VMI Archives, http://archivesweb.vmi.edu/rosters/record.php?ID=3044

“Society,” Washington Times (Washington, D.C.), 3 Sep. 1901, p.4. “The marriage of Miss McRoberts to Mr. Tunstall will take place this evening at the home of the bride.” <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn87062245/1901-09-03/ed-1/seq-4/&gt;

Stewart, William H., editor. History of Norfolk County, Virginia, and representative citizens. Chicago, IL, Biographical Publishing Company, 1902, p. 288-289, 417, 537, 945-947.

“The Tunstall Family.” Encyclopedia of Virginia biography, Lyon G. Tyler, v. 4, p. 261-264. http://vagenweb.org/tylers_bios/vol4-27.htm

Tunstall family tombstones, Elmwood Cemetery, Norfolk, Virginia. Findagrave.com

United States Censuses, 1850-1910. Familysearch.org

“University of Virginia bequeathed $5,000 by will of R. B. Tunstall, of Norfolk,” Peninsula Enterprise (Accomac, Va.), 13 Dec. 1919, p.12.

“Virginia, Births and Christenings, 1853-1917,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:X5L1-XXC : accessed 21 May 2015), Alx.A. Tunstall in entry for Alx.L. Tunstall, 30 Sep 1883; citing Lynchburg, Wise, Virginia, reference p 113; FHL microfilm 2,048,448.

Virginia Military Institute. Register of the officers and cadets of the Virginia Military Institute, Lexington, Va. 1869.

“Virginia News.” Peninsula Enterprise (Accomac, Va.), 4 Feb. 1905, p.2.

“Whitmell Pugh Tunstall,” in Tyler, Leon G., editor. Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography. New York, 1915, v.4, p. 329-331.

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