Author: James D. Munson


John Carlyle (1720–1780)

John Carlyle was a merchant and one of the original trustees of the town of Alexandria. Born in England, he apprenticed in the mercantile house of William Hicks before coming to Virginia first in 1739 and then permanently two years later. He eventually developed his own business partnerships, importing coal, convicts, rum, slaves, and sugar, and exporting flour, grain, iron, lumber, and tobacco. He also raised racehorses. Through marriage into the wealthy Fairfax family and friendships with members of the Washington family, Carlyle joined the Ohio Company and sought the creation of a new port town in service of his land interests. In 1749, the General Assembly named him one of eleven trustees of Alexandria, in Fairfax County. Over the next several years he directed the construction of a grand stone Georgian mansion, where he resided for more than twenty-five years, becoming one of the town’s leading citizens. During the French and Indian War (1754–1763), Carlyle served as a commissary to Virginia and British forces. During the Revolutionary War (1775–1783) he supported the Patriot cause and lost his only son in battle against the British. He died in 1780.