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Warrenton Female Academy

by Jean B. Anderson, 2006

See Also: Women's Colleges

Warrenton Female Academy was founded by Jacob Mordecai (1762-1838) in 1809 as a means of livelihood after his commodities brokerage was bankrupted by the Embargo of 1807. Over the years, he was assisted with the teaching by his son Solomon and his daughters Rachel, Julia, Caroline, Judith, and Ellen. The school gained immediate repute for its excellence and attracted the daughters of planters from all over North Carolina and southern Virginia. Students were to be taught the full range of subjects of any classical male academy as well as needlework, music, and dancing.

Having accumulated a modest fortune by 1818, Mordecai decided to retire from teaching and move to Virginia. He sold the building to his son-in-law Achilles Plunkett and two Philadelphians, Joseph Andrews and Thomas P. Jones, who continued the school. Plunkett shortly afterward withdrew to start his own school, but Warrenton Female Academy survived and maintained its strong reputation under various principals until the Civil War shut it down. The restored school building remained standing in the early 2000s.


Charles L. Coon, North Carolina Schools and Academies, 1790-1840 (1915).

Stanley L. Falk, "The Warrenton Female Academy," NCHR 35 (July 1958).

Lizzie W. Montgomery, Sketches of Old Warrenton (1924).


Origin - location: 



Please tell me where the Female Academy was located in Warrenton NC. am interested to see if the buildings are still
standing. Thank you. Beth Beck


Dear Beth,

Thank you for visiting NCpedia.  That's a great question.  I am connecting you by email with Reference Services at the N.C. Government & Heritage Library.  A librarian will contact you shortly to help with this question, if you are still looking for information. 

Best wishes,

Kelly Agan



Jane Smith, daughter of William Rand Smith and Martha Norsworthy of Isle of Wight Co., VA, and my grandmother, attended Warrenton Female Academy and was awarded a gold medal for scholarship in Nov. 1821. another medal of the same date was awarded to Martha Tompkins from Mathews Co,.VA who was a distant cousin on another part of my family. Martha Tompkins' medal now belongs to Colonial Williamsburg. If there are other similar medals I am not aware of them.


Dear Kathleen,

Thank you for visiting NCpedia and sharing this information with us.  Your contribution will stay with the entry as additional information.  We appreciate it greatly when readers share their history and knowledge with us for future readers.

Best wishes,

Kelly Agan, Government & Heritage Library

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Copyright notice

This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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