Philip Pendleton, son of Culpepper County lawyer Nathaniel Pendleton, was born on 2 August 1752. Philip became a lawyer, politician, landowner and militia leader. The distinguished Pendleton family included his uncle Edmund Pendleton, who was a judge, Virginia delegate to the Continental Congress, and a congressman. Philip’s brother Nathaniel was aide to General Nathanael Greene during the Revolutionary War and later Alexander Hamilton’s second in the infamous duel with Aaron Burr. Philip Pendleton married Agnes Patterson in 1772. They had eight children together.
Pendleton owned tracts of land in multiple counties in Virginia and the Western Territories, including tracts in present-day West Virginia and Kentucky. One of his early land acquisitions in 1771 was 180 acres of George Washington’s land along Bullskin Creek. Pendleton was also credited as one of the founders of Martinsburg, Virginia (now West Virginia).
Pendleton led a militia regiment during the American Revolution through 1777, as well as serving as a Commissioner of Provisions. In early 1781, not long after the British attacked the state capital in Richmond, Governor Thomas Jefferson ordered troops to be raised to support the army commanded by George Rogers Clark at the Falls of the Ohio, and Pendleton was among those who expressed concerned about resulting the drain on the defenses remaining in Virginia. As the war drew to a close, Jefferson appointed him as one of the commissioners of Oyer and Terminer for Hampshire County, which was charged with adjudicating treason cases involving loyalists and other offenders.
Pendleton was nominated to be a judge in Virginia's General Court in 1789. In 1790 he unsuccessfully asked James Madison recommend him to President George Washington to replace a deceased judge on the Supreme Court of the Western Territories. Pendleton also invested in regional trade and commerce: he was a member of the Potomac Company and also engaged in improvements to the Shenandoah River from the South Fork of the Potomac River.
Pendleton died in 1801 or 1802 at age 50 in Bath, the site of Berkeley Springs, then a popular Virginia resort, now in West Virginia.
By Kristin Jacobsen