On this day in 1726, the governor’s Council clerk, William Robertson, had the thankless task of informing the body’s senior member, Edmund Jenings, that he had been found incompetent to serve. The timing was significant. Lieutenant Governor Hugh Drysdale was only a few weeks short of death, and by right of seniority, Jenings would serve as acting governor until the Crown got around to appointing someone else. (The last time this happened, it took three years.)
Anyway, Jenings’s buddies on the Council wanted no part of this scenario, suspecting that the old man suffered from “the insanity of his mind & memory.” They even dispatched emissaries to Ripon Hall, one of whom, a former business associate, found the colonel
sitting in his Chair, and when I came up to him, he rose up and took hold of my hand, and said he was glad to see me; so that I believe he did know me. He sat down again immediately, and fell a weeping and continued so sometime I sat with him at least half an hour, and he did not say any thing to me, only, I think, when I ask’d him if he had a good stomack, he said yes.
Which must have been really awkward. But on June 25, the deed was officially done, and when the Council met again on August 1, Robert “King” Carter, and not Edmund Jenings, was acting governor.
IMAGE: Rippon [Ripon] Hall, York River, Va. (1860) by Lefevre James Cranstone (Virginia Historical Society)