John Coalter (1811-1831)

Further reading:

Francis T. Brooke, “Some Contemporary Accounts of Eminent Characters: From “A Narrative Of My Life For My Family,” circa 1849, published in The William and Mary Quarterly  (July 1908); includes a vignette about Coalter.

Elizabeth Tucker Coalter Bryan, “Some Further Account of John Coalter: copied from a Ms. written by his Daughter Elizabeth Tucker Bryan,” Augusta Historical Bulletin, 4, no.2 (1968): 20-24.

Philip Hamilton, The Making and Unmaking of a Revolutionary Family: The Tuckers of Virginia, 1752-1830 (2003). Hamilton discusses Coalter’s relationship with his mentor and father-in-law St. George Tucker, his career as a lawyer and judge, and his appointment to the Court of Appeals. Coalter tutored St. George Tucker’s children and later married his daughter, Anne Frances “Fanny” Tucker (in 1802).

Timothy S. Huebner, “John Coalter (1769-1838),” Dictionary of Virginia Biography (1998).

Alan Taylor, The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832 (2013), 219, 241-242. Taylor discusses Coalter’s views on strategies for managing slaves, expressed in a letter to his brother-in-law, Jospeh C. Cabell, after the escape of 69 slaves from Cabell’s plantation, Corotoman, in 1814.

See also Anya Jabour, “Male Friendship and Maculinity in the Early National South: William Wirt and his Friends,” Journal of the Early Republic (Spring 2000).  Coalter was among a circle of close friends that included St. George Tucker, Coalter’s father-in-law; William H. Cabell, and Dabney Carr.


Research collections:

College of William and Mary (Special Collections Research Center, Swem Library)
Williamsburg, Va.
Papers of the Brown, Coalter, Tucker Families (I), Group A, John Coalter Papers, 1780-1823; 3 boxes.
Coalter’s correspondence 1780-1823, includes poems exchanged with Maria Rind, his first wife; an autobiography written when he was 18 years old; and correspondence with family (father, brothers, three wives, father-in-law, St. George Tucker, and brother-in-law, Henry St. George Tucker). Subjects include tutoring the children of St. George Tucker, courting Maria Rind; studying law with George Wythe, acquiring a law license and trying his first case, working as the clerk of court and a circuit court judge in Staunton, and weighing whether to accept his appointment to the Court of Appeals in 1811. Item-level description of letters available in the finding aid to the collection.

Tucker-Coleman Papers, 1664-1945; ca. 30,000 items.
Includes papers of Ann Frances Bland (Tucker) Coalter (1779-1813) and John Coalter (1769-1838); finding aid available.

Library of Virginia (Personal Papers Collection)
Richmond, Va.
Coalter-Tucker Family Letters, 1802-1819; 12 letters.
Mainly letters from St. George Tucker (1752-1827) to  his son-in-law, John Coalter, of Richmond; finding aid available.

St. George Tucker Grinnan Papers, 1716-1885; 178 leaves (positive and negative photostats; originals lent for copying by St. George Tucker Grinnan, 1949).
John Coalter’s correspondence with his family, including his wife, Ann Frances Bland Tucker Coalter (1779-1813), his father-in-law St. George Tucker (1752-1827); and his brother-in-law, Henry St. George Tucker; finding aid available.

University of Virginia (Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library)
Charlottesville, Va.
Papers of the Bryant, Coalter, Randolph, and Tucker families 1770-1887; 719 items.
Includes letters to and from Frances B. Tucker Coalter, 1791-1831  John Coalter, 1788-1832, their son St. George Coalter, 1822-1826, and Coalter’s father-in-law, St. George Tucker, 1781-1826.

Papers of John Randolph of Roanoke, 1781-1860.
Contains 7 letters exchanged between John Coalter and Randolph, half-brother of Coalter’s wife, Anne Frances “Fanny” Tucker,” between 1804 and 1832, circa; and a more voluminous correspondence between Randolph and Coalter’s wife, Fanny Coalter. Item-level descriptions of the letters are provided in the finding aid to the collection.

Virginia Historical Society
Richmond, Va.
Bryan Family Papers, (section 3), 1800-1822; 5 items.
Letters from John Coalter to his fourth wife, Hannah Harrison (Jones) Coalter.

St. George Tucker Coalter Memoir, circa 1910; 95 leaves.
John Coalter is represented in his son’s memoir.

Connecting Presidential Collections (a centralized site for searching across presidential collections) provides access to Coalter’s correspondence, 1799-1801, in the Papers of Thomas Jefferson.  Correspondence mainly concerns court cases Jefferson has pending in the district court where Coalter was clerk.