Charles Elgin was likely born in Loudoun County on 11 June 1788. His father, Gustavus Elgin, was a captain in the Virginia militia during the Revolutionary War, fighting alongside members of the Mason family. Charles served as the sheriff of Loudoun County for at least one term, in 1811. Sheriffs in the early nineteenth century frequently served more as tax collectors rather than as keepers of the peace: collecting taxes was the main source of income for the position.
Elgin also served as a Captain in the 57th Regiment of Virginia Militia in the War of 1812. After his service, Elgin married Rowena Drish around 1812. They had five children, and named one of their sons Armistead Mason Elgin. The Elgins lived in the Middleburg area of Loudoun County for just over ten years, on a plot of farmland, before Charles’ death in 1824.
Elgin was a supporter and fundraiser for the construction of the Central College of Virginia in 1818. This fundraising campaign was a part of a years-long effort by Thomas Jefferson and others to establish an institution of higher learning in central Virginia, which culminated in the establishment, in 1819, of the University of Virginia. In April 1824, Elgin died of injuries sustained in boating accident in the Potomac River. He was buried at Leesburg Presbyterian Church Cemetery.
By Samantha Snyder