Arthur Spicer Brockenbrough

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Arthur S. Brockenbrough (October 20, 1780–1832), first proctor of the University of Virginia (1819-1831); postmaster at the University (1826–1832), and the officially designated “Patron to the Students” during the last year of his life.[1]

He operated a tavern in Tappahannock for a number of years after 1807 and was a captain in the Essex County militia during the War of 1812. The University of Virginia Board of Visitors hired Brockenbrough as proctor early in 1819.

According to the February 14, 1816 “Act for establishing a College in the county of Albemarle,” it was the duty of the proctor “to superintend, manage, preserve, and improve all the property of the erect, preserve, and repair the buildings, improvements, and possessions; to provide subsistence and other necessaries, and to direct and control the due and economical dispensation of them; to employ and control all agents, servants and others necessary for the works or the services prædial or menial of the institution” (Acts of Assembly [1815–16 sess.], 191–3, quote on p. 193).

Arthur Spicer Brockenbrough was born on October 20, 1780, in Essex, Virginia to John Brockenbrough (1741-1801) and Sarah Roane Brockenbrough. He married Lucy Gray ca. 1810, in Virginia. They were the parents of at least 6 sons and 2 daughters. Mr. Brockenbrough had been hired in 1819 to oversee the construction of the University. He died on April 27, 1832, in Charlottesville at the age of 51.

His father, Dr. John Brockenbrough (1741-1801) was a signer of the Westmoreland Protest of 1764, and long a Justice of Essex County; member of the Committee of Safety for Essex and Surgeon in the Navy of the Revolution; brothers included: John Brockenbrough, Thomas Jefferson correspondent; William Brockenbrough, Rockfish Gap commissioner and judge of the Virginia Court of Appeals.[2]


Brockenbrough Hill

While Thomas Jefferson was transforming an old farm field into his academical village, Carr's Hill stood across the road, undeveloped in the shadows of great trees. The earliest known owner of the original eighty acres was a farmer named James Burnley. He had died debt-ridden in 1803, leaving the property to his daughter Mary, who married Daniel Piper. The couple then subdivided the land, and in 1829 sold the forty-three acres of upland bordering Three Notched Road, now known as University Avenue, to the University's then proctor, Arthur S. Brockenbrough, for $1,065.62. He died in 1832 and left the steeply sloping forty-three acres across the road to his wife, Lucy Brockenbrough.[3]

The land Lucy Brockenbrough inherited would become her living. By the time of her inheritance, all of the University's original 109 student rooms in the academical village were fully occupied. In 1833, Mrs. Brockenbrough opened the first boarding house for students on and then known as Brockenbrough's Hill. One of the earliest purveyors of housing off the Grounds, she kept Brockenbrough Hill until 1849, housing twelve students, five white children, and fifteen enslaved persons. Mrs. Brockenbrough operated the boarding house until her death. Brockenbrough Hill became Carr's Hill in 1854, when the property was sold to Mrs. Dabney S. Carr.[4]

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