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James Priestley

James Priestley (1760 - 1821)

James was a noted early educator in Tennessee and elsewhere. A master of Greek, Languages and Mathematics, his diaries and botanical observations are still used today. He taught at Liberty Hall (today's Washington & Lee Academy), Bardstown Academy, St. John's Academy, and served as president (principal) of Cumberland College, Nashville, Tennessee. A very small sampling of his students must include Archibald Roane, Governor of Tennessee; Felix Grundy, U. S. Senator and Attorney General; John Bell, Representative and Senator from Tennessee, Speaker of Congress, Secretary of War, and 1860 presidential candidate; and Cave Johnson, Representative from Tennesse and Postmaster General. It has been said that few men have offered a more impressive contribution to American life and culture.

James married Sarah McBride (1766 - 1829) on 19 April 1788, Harrodsburg, Kentucky. In 1811, two years after being elected president of Cumberland College, he purchased 266 acres of land overlooking the Cumberland River, in Nashville, Tennessee, from Andrew Jackson, and established his home, "Montebello," on a rise overlooking the river.

This painting, which hangs in Nashville, Tennessee, does not bear a date. I would guess that it was made fairly early during his tenure at Cumberland College.

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