William McDowell

Judge William “Billy” McDowell, b 09 March 1762, Augusta Co., Va, d 19 September 1821, Bowling Green, Warren, KY

Married: Margaret Madison, m 26 September 1786


The third son of Judge Samuel McDowell and Mary 
McClung, William, was born in Rockbridge, March 9, 
1762. He also saw active service during the Revolution, 
not in the Continental army, but as one of the Virginia 
militia. The private letters of his father -show that he 
was frequently in arms to protect the settlers in Kentucky. 
To him tradition assigns the reputation of having been 
the most thoroughly educated, most learned and accom- 
plished of all the sons of his father. 

His education was obtained at the best schools in Virginia; 
of the opportunities they afforded, his honorable ambition 
spurred him on to take full advantage. The lawyer of his family, in 
that profession he was at once able, distinguished, and 

Coming with his father to Kentucky, in 1784, 
and locating- at first near Danville — then the religious, edu- 
cational, social, and political center of the district — he 
immediately became not less prominent in public affairs 
than he was at the bar. 

The first senator from Mercer county — after serving from 
1792 to 179b' he was re- elected in 1800. and. two years 
thereafter, was chosen to 
represent the same county in the house. Appointed by 
Governor Shelby, in 1702, the first auditor of the state, he 
was succeeded, in 1796, by George Madison, whose accom- 
plished sister he had married. 

By the Virginia Legislature of 1787, he was appointed one 
of the first trustees of the town of Danville. — [ITenning.~] 
His high character, united to his real ability and solid 
attainments, commended him for appointment as United States District 
Judge for Kentucky to President Madison, the cousin of 
his wife. He held the office for years, with distinction to 
himself, discharging its duties with such marked ability 
and impartiality as to win respect from all, and with such 
grace as made him popular and beloved. During his in- 
cumbency of this office, he removed to Bowling Green, 
where he died, full of honors, and after a life well spent. 

Judge William McDowell married Margaretta Madison, 
daughter of John Madison, a brother of the father of 
President Madison.

Historic Families of Kentucky
Copyright, 1889, 
Bv Thomas Marshall Green
May 1913 

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