Mary Cabell Horsley (1727-bef. 1760)

Mary Cabell owns the distinction of being the first of her line born in the New World. Newlywed William and Elizabeth Cabell welcomed their first (and ultimately only) daughter into their Goochland County home in 1727.

Though little hard information survives about the eldest Cabell child, she was literate by the age of ten and probably played an important role in helping to raise her brothers while her father was away in Britain from 1735-1741. Family lore indicates that she gained a reputation as a horsewoman as a young adult, one of the charms that may have moved William Horsley, a tutor in the Cabell household, to seek her hand in marriage. Colorful accounts of William and his bride escaping a jealous William Cabell on horseback are probably apocryphal, for the young couple lived with the bride’s family for several years following their 1744 nuptials. Later they lived at “Centre Hill,” an estate built on land given informally to the couple by William Cabell after their marriage and formally to her heirs following her death at some point before 1760.

The Horsley and Cabell families maintained connections throughout the colonial period and into the nineteenth century. According to family tradition, William Horsley’s father, Robert Horsley, emigrated from England with William Cabell. William Horsley’s sister, Fanny Horsley, married Richard Burks in 1739; Mr. Burks was the brother of Cabell matriarch Elizabeth Burks Cabell. Horsleys and Cabells served together in the Revolution, attended the University of Virginia together, fought alongside one another for the Confederacy, and served together in the Virginia General Assembly.

Additional Source Consulted:
Kathryn M. Osborne, Descendants of Mary Cabell Horsley (1978)