Biography of William Lamb
Prominent Persons in Virginia, Biographies

Lamb, William, born in Norfolk, Virginia, September 7, 1835, son of William Wilson Lamb and Margaret Kerr, his wife. After attending the Norfolk Academy, at the age of fourteen he became a student in the Rappahannock Military Academy. He was an ardent student of history and biography. He prepared for college at the Jones School in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and in 1852 entered William and Mary College, Williamsburg. He had no intention of preparing for a profession, but hearing such orators as ex-President Tyler and Henry A. Wise gave him a new inspiration, and at a following session he took up the law course, and in 1855 was graduated with the Bachelor of, Law degree. Not having attained his majority, he could not be admitted to the bar, and his father purchased for him a half interest in the "Southern Argus," and he was occupied with its editorial control until 1861. He had previously joined the Woodis Rifles, which, with him as captain, went to Harper's Ferry, at the time of the John Brown raid, in 1859. He now (in April, 1861) became a captain in the Sixth Virginia Regiment, and in October was made major on the staff of Gen. Joseph R. Anderson, and ordered to Wilmington, North Carolina, where he subsequently was placed in command of Fort St. Philip, on Cape Fear river. On July 4, 1862, he was in command of Fort Fisher, and its connecting fortifications. Promoted to colonel of artillery, he continued in command and kept up a gallant defense until its capture, in 1865. Col. Lamb then returned to Norfolk, and engaged in various stirring enterprises, representing various coasting and transatlantic steamship lines and connected with the Norfolk & Western railroad, and doing much of the development of the cotton and coal trade of the city. He served for three terms as mayor, and declined a fourth term. He was several times president of the board of trade and Chamber of Commerce, president of the Military Organization, manager of the Jackson Orphan Asylum, president of the Seaman's Friend Society, a member of the board of visitors of the University of Virginia, rector of the College of William and Mary, first president of the Norfolk Public Library and serving as such until he resigned, and a vestryman of St. Paul's Church. As a Democrat, he was a presidential elector on the Breckinridge and Lane ticket in 1860, but in 1882 his views as to the protection of American manufacturing and kindred interests brought him to the support of the Republican party. He was at one time chairman of its state committee, and took an active part in political campaigns. His services to the community have been many and valuable. He induced large investments of European as well as of American capital to be made in Virginia, and established the direct trade between Norfolk and Europe. He aided largely in the establishment of the present public school system; took an important part in the upbuilding of William and Mary College after the war; and contributed to the larger efficiency of the University of Virginia. He was connected with many of the most important societies and fraternities. He was a forceful and graceful speaker, and many of his addresses have been printed. Is 1899 St. Lawrence (New York) University conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of Laws; and King Oscar of Sweden made him a knight of the Noble Order of Wasa, in recognition of his services as American consul He married, in Providence, Rhode Island, September 7, 1857, Sarah Ann Chaffee.

Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography
Volume III
By: Lyon Gardiner Tyler, LL. D.
Lewis Historical Publishing Company
New York 1915

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