Peyton Randolph, an American patriot, president of the first congress, born in Virginia in 1723, died in Philadelphia, Oct. 22, 1775. He Was the second son of Sir John Randolph, and after graduating at the college of William and Mary went to England and studied law at the Temple. In 1748 he was appointed king's attorney general for the colony, was chosen a member of the house of burgesses, and was chairman of a committee to revise the laws of the colony. In 1764 he drew up the address of the burgesses to the king against the passage of the stamp act. In 1765, after that act became a law, Randolph with other proprietors of large estates opposed Patrick Henry's celebrated five resolutions. (See Henry, Patrick.) In the same year Virginia forwarded to England petitions similar to those adopted by the congress, with an address to the king written by Randolph. In 1766 Randolph was made speaker of the house of burgesses, resigning about the same time his office of attorney general. In the measures of opposition to the English government he now took a conspicuous part. He was a member of the committee of vigilance appointed to obtain the most accurate intelligence of all acts of parliament affecting the rights of the colonies, and to open a correspondence with the other colonies.
In August, 1774, he presided in the convention at Williamsburg, and was one of the delegates elected to the continental congress. On the assembling of that body in Philadelphia in September, he was unanimously elected its president, but in consequence of ill health held that post only five or six weeks. In 1775 he presided over the second convention of Virginia at Richmond, was elected again as a delegate to congress, and when that body met at Philadelphia on May 10, 1775, was reŽlected president; but the duties of speaker of the house of burgesses recalling him to Virginia, he was succeeded by John Hancock. He died suddenly of apoplexy.