About John Carlyle

 
John Carlyle
 
 


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.
 
Through his growing business and social ties, Carlyle emerged as one of the leading figures in Northern Virginia and counted such luminaries as George Washington among his friends. Carlyle owned thousands of acres of land, including three working plantations. He served as one of the original trustees of Alexandria, the commissary for the Virginia militia during the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War, and a justice of the peace for Fairfax County. His wealth, social and business activities, and political service established him as a member of the colonial Virginia gentry.