Figure of the Week

John Mercer

Born 1704 - Died 1768

John Mercer (1704-1768) immigrated to America in 1720 from Dublin, Ireland, settling first in Maryland and then in Virginia.  He was the son of John Mercer and Grace Fenton of Dublin.  John soon became a prominent entrepreneur, attorney, and landowner.  He arrived in Stafford around 1725 and almost single-handedly rebuilt the failed town of Marlborough.  In 1691 Parliament had ordered an official tobacco warehouse and town established on the peninsula between Accokeek and Potomac Creeks.  The county courthouse was moved to this location, but the town proved to be inconveniently located.  The courthouse and much of the town burned around 1718 and activity quietly died.   Upon Mercer’s arrival, Marlborough drastically changed.  He bought up all the old lots, most of which had been abandoned.  On the site he built houses, a racetrack, distillery, warehouses, and a windmill for grinding grain.  Until very recent times, Marlborough Point was commonly referred to as Windmill Point.  Here, also, were several ordinaries, a ferry across Potomac Creek to what is now King George County, and another ferry across the Potomac River to Maryland (on which Mercer transported his race horses to Maryland tracks).  John also built a great mansion very nearly on top of the old courthouse ruins.  Mercer expended his fortune in building and sustaining Marlborough, yet after his death, the town again died.  John Mercer served as a magistrate in Stafford from at least 1748 to 1766 and was an active attorney in both Stafford and Prince William Counties.