Mason, the name of a family of Virginia. The first of the family who came to North America was Col. George Mason, a member of the English parliament in the reign of Charles I. He opposed the arbitrary policy of the king, but resisted extreme measures against him. He was an officer in the army of Charles II., and after his defeat in Worcester in 1651 escaped to Virginia, losing all his possessions in England. His great-grandson, of the same name, about 1726 married Anne Thomson, a favorite niece of Sir William Temple, and had by her two sons and a daughter.

I. George

George, eldest son of George Mason and Anne Thomson, born at Docg's Neck, in Stafford, now in Fairfax co., Va., in 1726, died in the autumn of 1792. In 1769 he drew up the non-importation resolutions which were presented by Washington and adopted by the assembly of Virginia. In 1775 the convention of Virginia made him a member of the committee of safety charged with the executive government of the colony. In 1776 he drafted the declaration of rights and the constitution of Virginia, which were adopted by a unanimous vote. He brought forward and carried through, in conjunction with Jefferson, a measure for the repeal of the old disabling acts, and for legalizing all modes of worship, releasing dissenters from parish rates. In 1777 he was elected a member of the continental congress; and ten years later he was a leading member of the federal convention to frame the constitution of the United States, in which he took decided ground against all measures tending to the perpetuation of slavery. He was dissatisfied with the instrument when completed, and declined to sign it, declaring his apprehensions that it would result in a monarchy or a tyrannical aristocracy.

Returning to Virginia, he was chosen a member of the convention called to ratify or reject the federal constitution, and in conjunction with Patrick Henry he led the opposition to the constitution in that body, insisting upon about 20 alterations, several of which were afterward adopted by congress and the states. He was elected the first United States senator from Virginia under the constitution, but declined to accept the office. His statue stands with those of Jefferson, Henry, and other illustrious Virginians, at the base of Crawford's colossal statue of Washington in front of the capitol at Richmond.

II. Thomson

Thomson, younger brother of the preceding, born in 1730, died in 1785. He studied law in the Temple at London. He took strong ground against the aggressions of the British government, and as early as 1774 published a series of papers in which he maintained the duty of open resistance. The first numbers of these papers appeared under the signature of " A British American," but in the concluding one he made known his real name. In 1778 he was appointed a member of the first supreme court of Virginia, and was soon afterward with his brother nominated by the senate one of the revisers of the laws of Virginia. In 1779 he was elected a member of the house of delegates for Elizabeth City county. He was again a member in 1783, and served as chairman of the committee on courts of justice.

III. Stevens Thomson

Stevens Thomson, eldest son of the preceding, born in Stafford, Va., in 1760, died in Philadelphia in 1803. At the age of 20 he reached the rank of colonel in the revolutionary army. He was a member of the Virginia convention in 1788, and of the United States senate from 1794 until his death. He was distinguished for wit and eloquence.

IV. Armis-Tead Thomson

Armis-Tead Thomson, son of the preceding, born in Loudon co., Va., in 1787, killed Feb. 5, 1819. He served during the war of 1812 as colonel of a regiment of horse, and was subsequently a brigadier general of the Virginia militia. He was a member of the Virginia legislature, and in 1815-17 of the United States senate. As it was supposed that he alone, on account of his great personal popularity, could break dowm the federal champion Charles Fenton Mercer, he resigned from the senate to become a candidate for the house of representatives in the district of Loudon; but he was defeated by a small majority. The contest was bitter, and resulted in several duels; among them was the famous conflict in which he himself was involved with his cousin Col. John Mason McCarty, in which he was killed, He left an only child, Stevens Thomson, who volunteered in the Mexican war, and as a captain of the mounted rifles was mortally wounded at Cerro Gordo.

V. Richard B., Grandson Of George Mason

Grandson Of George Mason Richard B., an officer of the United States army, died at Jefferson barracks, Mo., in 1850. He served in the Mexican war as colonel of dragoons, and was brevetted brigadier general in 1848 for "meritorious and distinguished" services. He was the first civil and military governor of California.

VI. James Murray, Also A Grandson Of George Mason

Also A Grandson Of George Mason James Murray, born on An-alostan island, opposite Washington, Nov. 3, 1798, died near Alexandria, Va,, April 28, 1871. He studied law, and in 1820 commenced practice in Winchester, Va. In 1826 he was elected to the Virginia house of delegates, and was twice reelected. In 1837 he was chosen a member of the lower house of congress. He declined a reelection and returned to the practice of his profession. In 1847 he was appointed to the United States senate to fill a vacancy, and in 1849 and again in 1855 was reelected. He took a prominent part in the senate, was for several years chairman of the committee on foreign relations, and drafted the fugitive slave law of 1850. He early took part in the secession movement, and in July, 1861, was expelled from the senate. He was appointed confederate commissioner to England and France, and on Nov. 8, 1861, with his colleague John Sli-dell, was captured in the Bahama channel on board the British mail steamer Trent, by Capt. Wilkes. He was confined in Fort Warren, Boston harbor, till Jan. 2, 1862, when he was given up to the British government. During the remainder of the war he resided mainly in Paris, as representative of the confederacy.

After its close he went to Canada, where he remained three years, and then returned to Virginia.

VII. Stevens Thomson

Stevens Thomson, grandson of Stevens Thomson Mason, already mentioned, born in Loudon co., Va., in 1811, died in New York in January, 1843. His father, John T. Mason, removed to Kentucky, where the son was educated. In 1831 he was appointed secretary of the territory of Michigan, and on the translation of Gov. Cass to the war department at Washington, he became the acting governor. He held this office during the Ohio and Michigan boundary controversy, which excited intense interest and bitter feeling; thousands of troops were marched to the line with the prospect of a sanguinary conflict. When Michigan organized itself as a state in 1835, he was unanimously elected her first governor, and was reelected for a second term. On retiring from office in 1839, he withdrew from political life, and removed to New York, where he practised law.

VIII. John Y

John Y, descended more remotely from the same stock as the above, born in Greensville, Va., April 18,1799, died in Paris, Oct. 4, 1859. He graduated at the university of North Carolina,'studied law, was for ten years a delegate in the Virginia general assembly, and filled several other offices in the state. He was a representative in congress from 1831 to 1837, when he was appointed judge of the United States court for Virginia. He was secretary of the navy under President Tyler, and successively attorney general and secretary of the navy under President Polk. By President Pierce he was appointed minister to France, where he continued until his death.

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I. John Mitchell

John Mitchell, an American clergyman, born in New York, March 19, 1770, died there, Dec. 26, 1829. His father was of Scotch birth, and pastor of an Associate Reformed church in New York. He graduated at Columbia college in 1789, and entered in 1791 the university of Edinburgh, but was recalled in 1792 by intelligence of his father's death, and succeeded to his pastoral charge in 1793. He published a pamphlet consisting of "Letters" on frequent communion, which induced the Associate Reformed churches to relinquish their former practice of celebrating the communion but once or twice a year. He projected the plan of a theological seminary which was established in New York in 1804, and was appointed its first professor of theology. In 1806 he projected the "Christian's Magazine," which he conducted for several years. In 1810 he resigned his pastoral charge with the purpose of forming a new congregation. Dr. Mason having established more intimate relations with a Presbyterian church than were believed to be authorized by the constitution of his own denomination, the matter was brought before the synod in Philadelphia in 1811, and was the occasion of his "Plea for Sacramental Communion on Catholic Principles" (1816). He accepted in 1811 the office of provost of Columbia college, which he resigned in 1816. In 1817 he resumed his pastoral charge.

In 1821 he became president of Dickinson college, which office he relinquished in 1824 and returned to New York. In 1822 he had transferred his connection from the Associate Reformed to the Presbyterian church. A collection of his works was edited by his son, the Rev. Ebenezer Mason (4 vols., New York, 1832).

II. Erskine

Erskine, an American clergyman, son of the preceding, born in New York, April 16, 1805, died there, May 14,1851. He graduated at Dickinson college in 1823, and became pastor of a Presbyterian church at Schenectady in 182T, and of the Bleecker street church in New York in 1830. From 1836 to 1842 he was professor of ecclesiastical history in the Union theological seminary, New York. He published several occasional sermons, and a collection of his discourses appeared after his death, under the title of "A Pastor's Legacy," with a sketch of his life by the Rev. William Adams, 1). D. (New York, 1853).