Bar, 1746; practiced law (with John Lewis) Spotsylvania County, Virginia. Attorney general Virginia Colony (in absence of Peyton Randolph), 1754. Member Virginia House of Burgesses, 1754-1755, 58-68, clerk, 1769-1775.
Mayor Williamsburg (Virginia), 1768. Member Continental Congress, 1775-1776. Signed Declaration of Independence, 1776.
Revised laws of Virginia (with Edmund Pendleton and Thomas Jefferson), 1779. Speaker Virginia House of Delegates, 1777. Judge Virginia High Court of Chancery, 1778.
Professor of law and police (1st chair of law in American), College William and Mary, 1779, also member board visitors. Ex-officio member Virginia Supreme Court Appeals, delivered opinion in Commonwealth versus Caton, 1782. Member Virginia Convention to ratify United States Constitution, 1788.
Founded small law school, 1790. Emancipated his Negro servants in his will. Poisoned (along with a servant) by grand-nephew George Wythe Sweeney to gain his inheritance.
Lived long enough to disinherit grandnephew. Author: Decisions of Cases in Virginia, 1795.