Richard Thomas Walker Duke

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Col. R. T. W. Duke in 1880

Richard Thomas Walker Duke Sr. (June 6, 1822 – July 2, 1898), often known as Colonel Duke and by his initials RTW, was a Virginia politician and lawyer. He served on Charlottesville's Board of Alderman under the first charter granted by the Legislature in 1851. He was the father of Richard Thomas Walker Duke Jr. who sat on Charlottesville's city council for several years early in the 20th century.

Duke was elected Commonwealth attorney for the county of Albemarle in 1858 and served until 1869 when he was removed by military authority.

During the Civil War (1861 to 1865) entered the Confederate Army; became colonel of the Forty-sixth Regiment, Virginia Infantry. Duke was a two-term U.S. Representative from Virginia (1869 to 1871) and (1871 to 1873).

Charlottesville Town Council (1852-1870)

On February 25, 1854, the town of Charlottesville held its third corporation election of a mayor and four aldermen to serve for the ensuing year. Duke received the largest number of votes for alderman and served one term until he was replaced by Drury Wood.

Born in Charlottesville, he was educated at the Virginia Military Institute, graduated from the law school at the University of Virginia in 1850 and was a lawyer in practice. Before the civil war disrupted his legal and political career, he had built an office at 20 Court House Square;

During the Civil War, he served in the Confederate Army as Colonel in command of the 46th Regiment of Virginia Infantry.

In 1858, Colonel RTW Duke was elected Commonwealth’s Attorney for Albemarle County, holding the office until 1870 when he was elected to the Forty-first Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Robert Ridgway and re-elected to the Forty-second Congress, serving (1870-73). After his term, he was a member of the Virginia State House of Delegates, (1879-80).

Family and death

Richard Thomas Walker Duke was descended from the Duke family of Hanover and James City Counties, Virginia. His father was Richard Duke (1777-1849) and his mother was Maria Walker, the granddaughter of Dr. Thomas Walker of Castle Hill in Albemarle County.

On July 26, 1846, Duke married Elizabeth Scott Eskridge (1820 – 1896). The couple’s children were William Richard, Margaret Brown (d. infant), Richard Thomas Walker Jr., Maria Walker (d. infant), and Mary Willoughby Duke.


Richard Thomas Walker Duke Jr. (August 27, 1853 – March 5, 1926) was born in Charlottesville. He attended the University of Virginia in sessions 47-50 (1870-1874). His last year at U.Va. was in the Law School. In 1875, he joined his father in a successful law practice. In 1888, he was elected Judge of the Corporation Court of Charlottesville in which he served until 1901. He was a member of Zeta Psi Fraternity and was a Past Grand Master of the Masons of Virginia.

Death and internment

On July 2, 1898, Richard Thomas Walker Duke died at age 76 on his estate, "Sunnyside," near Charlottesville.[1] Interment was in the family section, next to his wife, at Maplewood Cemetery .



Richard Thomas Walker Duke, the son of Richard Duke and Maria Barckley Walker, his wife, was born June 6th, 1822, at Mill Brook, locally known as the Burnt Mills, in Albemarle County, Virginia.

He attended private schools, among his teachers being the late Judge William J. Robertson, his life long friend. He was appointed State cadet to the V. M. I. in 1842, and graduated second in his class in 1845. He taught school in Richmond, also in Lewisburg, Virginia, now West Virginia.

On the death of his father in 1849, he moved to Morea and studied law, graduating in 1850. Again he taught school and at the same time practiced law in Charlottesville. He was elected Commonwealth's Attorney in 1858.

After the John Brown raid he organized the Albemarle Rifles, Company B, Nineteenth Virginia Regiment, and was elected Captain. He went to Harper's Ferry on April 17th, 1861, and was at First Manassas. In the summer of 1862 he was elected Colonel of the Forty-sixth Virginia Infantry. He resigned during the spring of 1864, came home, and was appointed Lieutenant-Colonel of the Second Battalion of Reserves, and served in the trenches and at guarding prisoners in Richmond. He was captured, together with his command, at Sailors Creek, April 6th, 1865.

He was in Washington the night President Lincoln was assassinated. He remained a prisoner at Johnson's Island until July, 1865. Upon his release he returned home and resumed the practice of law.

He was removed from the office of Commonwealth's Attorney by military authority. He was elected to congress in 1870 and served until 1873. He was one of the charter members of the John Bowie Strange Camp, Confederate Veterans, its first Second Lieutenant Commander, and afterwards Commander. During this period he continued to practice law and was elected to the legislature in 1881, serving one term. He died at Sunny Side, July 2nd, 1898, and was buried in Maplewood Cemetery.

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  1. Web. DEATH OF COL. R. T. W. DUKE, Staff Reports, Daily Progress Digitized Microfilm, Lindsay family, July 02, 1898, retrieved July 15, 2019 from University of Virginia Library as found in archival collection Daily Progress Digitized Microfilm. Print. July 02, 1898 page 1.

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