Cabells and Public Service


Following the example of their patriarch, who served as a justice of the peace, militia officer, coroner, and vestryman, the descendants of William Cabell established an outstanding tradition of public service. Law and custom proscribed the political involvement of women, but the Cabell men served at all levels of Virginia government–as local officials, Burgesses, Delegates and Senators to the General Assembly, as Governor, and as Representatives and Senators to the United States Congress. As the Cabells spread out across the new nation, members of the family took an active role in the leadership of other states as well.

va state capitol model

A model of the Virginia State Capitol, as conceived by Thomas Jefferson in 1785. Dozens of Cabells served the Commonwealth in the completed structure.

The links below are designed to give some indication of the Cabell family’s impressive political record. While the data may not be exhaustive, it is at least evocative of the high value that men of the family have placed on participation in government at all levels. Included elsewhere are records of the Cabell family’s military service.

Cabells in the Virginia General Assembly Names and dates of service of Cabells in both the Virginia General Assembly and its predecessor, the House of Burgesses.
Cabells in the United States Congress Brief biographical entries for nine Cabells or Cabell relatives who have served in Congress.
Nelson and Amherst Counties: Seat of Cabell Influence Cabells enjoyed political dominance in these central Virginia counties for nearly a century.
Notes on County Formation The General Assembly did not incorporate Nelson County until 1808; this table makes comprehensible the changing county boundaries of central Virginia’s “Cabell Country.”
Biographies Linking to the “Biographies” page will lead to over a dozen biographies of Cabell family members, virtually all of whom held public office. The three individuals below boast perhaps the most distinguished careers:
John Cabell Breckinridge, Vice President of the United States of America.
William H. Cabell, Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
William Cabell Rives, Delegate, Representative, Senator, and Foreign Minister.