Royall, Richard Royster (1798–1840)

By: Thomas W. Cutrer

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: February 19, 2014

Richard Royster Royall, legislator, soldier, and plantation owner, was born on June 1, 1798, in Halifax County, Virginia, the youngest son of William and Elizabeth (Bedford) Royall. His mother died when he was four, and he was reared by his stepmother, Polly (Glasscock) Royall. When he was twenty-one his father gave him a plantation near Tuscumbia, Alabama. In 1819 he married Ann Alexander Underwood of Nashville, Tennessee. They had six children before her death on February 18, 1831, in Matagorda County, Texas. On January 3, 1839, Royall married Elizabeth Allen Love in Houston. Their only child died at age eleven. In 1819 Royall purchased, from Daniel Kimbell, a Spanish grant of two leagues near the Sabine River on the road between Natchitoches, Louisiana, and Nacogdoches, Texas. He visited Texas in 1820 but found the place too unsettled for his taste. In March 1824 he purchased another Spanish grant of 10,000 arpents, that of Capt. Bernardo Martin Despallier of Alexandria, Louisiana, five miles south of Nacogdoches. In 1825 Royall returned to Texas, met Stephen F. Austin, and executed a deed of trust to Daniel Coleman. Austin later visited Royall in Alabama while recruiting settlers for his colony; Royall sent one son ahead and came to Texas himself in 1832, with his family and slaves, aboard the Emblem. On January 24, 1830, he received a land certificate from Austin on "Arroyo Karankahuas" or "Arroyo Navida." With his wife, Anne, their three sons and two daughters, and their twenty slaves, he established a plantation in Matagorda. He represented the precinct in the Convention of 1833 and in September 1835 was chairman of the Matagorda Committee of Public Safety. In October-during the crucial first phase of the Texas Revolution—he served as chairman of the Central Committee or Permanent Council at San Felipe, which exercised authority before the Consultation of 1835 to raise men, arms, and revenues for "the common defense of Texas." During his tenure Royall advanced some $3,000 of his own funds to the Texas cause. In October he joined Gail Borden and other members of the Permanent Council in calling for volunteers from Texas and the United States to join Stephen F. Austin at Bexar in the fight against the "military usurpation" of Centralist Mexican authority and in urging the Texas army to remain in the field. On October 16 he wrote to Austin recommending the arrest of John A. Williams for disloyalty to the revolution and for aiding the Mexican Centralist cause. On November 1, 1835, he dissolved the General Council and turned its authority over to the Consultation. He was elected to the Consultation despite ill health and served as a member of the executive council from December 6, 1835, until January 17, 1836. On November 7 he signed the declaration of war against Antonio López de Santa Anna and his Centralist forces. As early as December 1835 Royall was urging Gen. Sam Houston to take the offensive against Mexico—"vulgarly speaking moove quick and devilish," he wrote—and in January he took the lead in denouncing Governor Henry Smith as "low, blackguardly, and vindictive, and in every way unworthy of and disgraceful to" the office of governor. In February he quarreled with Ira Ingram, his fellow Consultation delegate from Matagorda. Royall was defeated in his bid to represent Matagorda at the Convention of 1836 by Samuel Rhoads Fisher. On August 8, 1836, President David G. Burnet commissioned Royall to "raise and organize an Independent Ranger company to consist of a hundred or more men" to gather stray cattle between the Nueces and the Rio Grande to supply the Army of the Republic of Texas. Royall died at his Matagorda home on June 29, 1840. He was buried at his plantation, Cedar Lane, on Caney Creek.

John H. Jenkins, ed., The Papers of the Texas Revolution, 1835–1836 (10 vols., Austin: Presidial Press, 1973). Richard Royster Royall, Family History (MS, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin). Texas House of Representatives, Biographical Directory of the Texan Conventions and Congresses, 1832–1845 (Austin: Book Exchange, 1941). Gifford E. White, 1830 Citizens of Texas (Austin: Eakin, 1983). Amelia W. Williams and Eugene C. Barker, eds., The Writings of Sam Houston, 1813–1863 (8 vols., Austin: University of Texas Press, 1938–43; rpt., Austin and New York: Pemberton Press, 1970).

Time Periods:
  • Texas Revolution

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Thomas W. Cutrer, “Royall, Richard Royster,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 07, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

February 19, 2014