Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Robert Townshend Hooe (ca. 1743-1809)
MSA SC 3520-669


Born c. 1743.  Son of Rice and Tabitha (Harrison) Hooe. Died March 16, 1809, in Alexandria, Virginia.

Deputy Surveyor, Charles County, appointed 1766. Committee of Observation, Charles County, elected 1774. Lieutenant colonel, Twelth Ballalion, 1776; colonel by 1781. Delegate, Maryland Constitutional Convention, 1774-1776. Mayor, Alexandria, Virginia, 1780-82. Sheriff, Fairfax County, Virginia, 1790.  Hooe had numerous business ventures in Alexandria, including the merchant firm Hooe & Harrison.  He also owned privateers during the Revolutionary War.

Robert Townshend Hooe is one of the forgotten figures of the famous Marbury v. Madison case. In 1801, President John Adams appointed Hooe a Justice of the Peace for the District of Columbia. This was one of Adam's "midnight appointments" made during the final days of his administration. When Thomas Jefferson came into office, his Secretary of State, James Madison, did not deliver the commissions, and Jefferson made his own appointments. Hooe filed suit along with William Marbury, Dennis Ramsay, and William Harper. The Supreme Court ruled that Madison should have delivered the commissions to the appointees, but that the Court did not have the constitutional authority to issue writs of mandamus, which would have forced Madison to so.

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