The Cabells and Their Kin

by Alexander Brown (1843-1906)


cabells kinIn 1895, Alexander Brown committed decades of research on the Cabell family to print in The Cabells and Their Kin. In this terrifically detailed work, drawn from extensive interviews, historical monographs, and–most of all–from hundreds of pages of original documents in his possession, he cataloged over 540 descendants of the man to whom he typically referred only as “The Founder”. In addition, he gave biographical sketches of scores of the more prominent members of the family and included some thirty-three family portraits. By blood, marriage, and profession, Brown was eminently qualified to undertake such a work.

The grandson of Lucy Shands Rives and thrice-great-grandson of the first Cabell in America, Brown anchored his place in Cabell family history even more firmly by marriage and domicile. In 1873, he married his distant cousin, Caroline Augusta Cabell and moved into “Union Hill,” the Nelson County home built by Col. William Cabell and the birthplace of his father, Robert L. Brown. Alexander “Sandy” Brown remained in the bosom of “Cabell country” following the death of his first wife in 1876. He remarried to Caroline Cabell’s sister, Sarah Randolph Cabell, in 1886 and stayed at the home until his death in 1906.

In addition to strong personal connections to his subject matter, the author of The Cabells and Their Kin had practice as a scholar of the highest ability which prepared him for the work. He authored several other major studies, including New Views of Early Virginia History (1886), The Genesis of the United States (1890), The Descendants in Virginia…of Major William Mayo (1890), The First Republic in America (1898), and English Politics in Early Virginia History (1901).

Under the leadership of Carrington Cabell Tutwiler, Cabell relatives sponsored a reprinting of Brown’s book in 1939. At that time, Tutwiler hoped to write a companion volume, in which he would extend Brown’s genealogy into the twentieth century and add new material discovered on the first Cabells. Tutwiler proved unable to complete the second book, however, and his notes passed by way of the Cabell Family Memorial Foundation (organized in 1957) to the University of Virginia’s Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library. Randolph W. Cabell took up the challenge in the early 1990s and penned the long-awaited sequel, 20th Century Cabells and Their Kin (1993).