Archibald Cary, an American patriot, born in Virginia about 1730, died there in September, 1786. His family was descended from Henry Lord Hunsdon, and at the time of his death he was the heir apparent of the barony. He early became a member of the house of burgesses. In 1764 he served on the committee which reported the address to the king, lords, and commons, on the principles of taxation; and in 1770 was one of the signers of the "mercantile association," pledged to use no British fabrics thereafter, the design being to resist by practical measures the encroachments of the government. In 1773 he was one of the committtee of correspondence by which the colonies were united against parliament; in the following year he was a member of the convention which appointed delegates to the general congress; and he served with great distinction in the convention of 1776. As chairman of the committee of the whole he reported the resolutions instructing the Virginia delegates in congress to propose independence. When the state government was organized he was returned to the senate, of which he was chosen president. At this time occurred the incident with which his name is most generally connected.
The scheme of a dictatorship had been broached, and without his knowledge or consent Patrick Henry was spoken of for the post. In the midst of the general agitation Cary met Mr. Syme, Mr. Henry's half-brother, in the lobby of the assembly, and said to him: " Sir, I am told that your brother wishes to be dictator. Tell him from me that the day of his appointment shall be the day of his death, for he shall find my dagger in his heart before the sunset of that day." The project was speedily abandoned. Cary soon afterward retired to his estate of Ampthill, in Chesterfield co., where he died. He was a good representative of the former race of Virginia planters, delighting in agricultural pursuits, in blooded horses, and improved breeds of cattle. He was a man of singular courage, and was called by his contemporaries "Old Iron."