About John Carlyle
John Carlyle was born in 1720, the second son of a landed Scottish family. As a young man, he apprenticed with an English merchant firm and, by 1741, he immigrated to Virginia as a factor, or representative, for William Hicks, an English merchant. Like many other emigrants to the colonies, John Carlyle came to Virginia hopeful of making “a fortune sufficient...to live independent.”
Carlyle’s ensuing financial success was matched by his good fortune in winning the hand of Sarah Fairfax, a young lady from one of the most influential families in colonial Virginia. Following his marriage, Carlyle established his home and merchant business in Alexandria. Carlyle’s extensive business activities included import and export trade to England and the West Indies, retail trade in Alexandria, an iron foundry in the Shenandoah, milling and a blacksmithing operation.