John Randolph of Roanoke and His Satanic Majesty



In the winter of 1831-1832, John Randolph of Roanoke, a brilliant orator and statesman often suspected of being more than a little mad, wrote the following letter:

To the Honorable Waller Holladay, Esquire,
of the county of Spotsylvania,
of the State of Virginia,
of the United States of America,
of the Western Hemisphere,
of the Globe.

I am sure you will he surprised and pained to hear that I was honored last night by a visit from no less a personage than His Satanic Majesty. His Majesty assured me that my only hope of much longer continuance of my mortal existence depended upon my subsisting entirely upon the milk of your fine Medley mare, which would restore health to my worn out hody. Under these melancholy circumstances, I have no choice hut to throw myself upon your friendly mercies and I implore you to let me have the mare without delay which will inevitably bring my life to its end. I will not inquire your price. Draw upon me for whatever you may think proper, but I pray and conjure you by everything you hold sacred, and in the name of humanity, to sell me the mare, that her milk may save the life of your sincere but sullcring friend.

Randolph of Roanoke

On the same day he wrote this missive, Randolph drafted his third will.  After his death, a will contest disputing the validity of this will arose.  The letter he wrote to Holladay was admitted into evidence and convinced the judge hearing the case that Randolph clearly had not been in command of his mental faculties when he drafted the third will, and the will contest succeeded.

Published in: on October 23, 2019 at 5:30 am  Comments (4)  


  1. Reblogged this on Practically Historical.

    • Reblogged this on Practically Historical


  2. Fascinating! Randolph of Roanoke is a sadly forgotten figure; I wrote a brief bit about him on my own blog during the summer:

    Great post!

    • Randolph of Roanoke is a sadly forgotten figure; I wrote a brief bit about him on my own blog during the summer:

      Fascinating, colorful and important in the history of the early Republic. He is worthy of a far better fate than his current historical oblivion.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: