Thomson Francis Mason 1785-1838

Thomson Francis Mason was born at his grandfather's home, Gunston Hall.

During his early years, he may have been educated at home. On October 24, 1805, he entered the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) as a member of the junior class. That same year he joined the Whig Society. After he graduated with honors in 1807, he stayed to study law.

In 1812, he set up a law practice in Alexandria, which was then part of the District of Columbia. A dedicated public servant, he served eight years as a common councilman and three terms as mayor.

Transportation routes were essential to Alexandria's developing economy. Thomson served as president of and attorney for the Middle Turnpike Company for eleven years. He resigned on July 16, 1838, perhaps because that same month, President Martin Van Buren appointed him as the first judge of the newly created Criminal Court of the District of Columbia. The turnpike was completed shortly after his death.

Thomson was also involved, both as mayor and as chairman of the Alexandria Committee, in the construction of the Alexandria branch of the C & O Canal. The Alexandria Canal was completed in 1843.

Thomson died at age 53 on December 21, 1838. The following announcement appeared in the December 22 issue of the Alexandria Gazette:


    Yesterday afternoon, Hon. Thomson F. Mason, Judge of the Criminal Court of the District of Columbia.

    We announce this melancholy intelligence with great pain, and with heartfelt sympathy for his affected family, relatives, and friends. His illness was both lingering and severe, but was borne with patience and resignation. We trust that his character as a man, as a citizen, and as a Judge, will be portrayed hereafter. We can do no more than to say that one whole community deeply deplores his loss -- that he endeared himself to the Bar, the members of which unite in the general expression of sorrow -- and that few men have ever lived amongst us whose decease created a deeper sensation of regret, and whose services and talents were more highly appreciated.

    The friends of his family are respectfully invited to attend his funeral at 3 o'clock, P.M., of (Sunday,) tomorrow.