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Elizabeth Ambler Brent Carrington, whose home stood at the southeast corner of Clay and 11th Streets, was concerned about the plight of orphaned girls early in the 19th century and helped establish the Female Humane Association of the City of Richmond at a time when women rarely played a role in public affairs.


  • Elizabeth Carrington's signature on petition to General Assembly, Dec. 13, 1810, Legislative Petitions of the General Assembly, 1776-1865, Accession Number 36121, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Va.
  • Page 1 of the 1810 petition to incorporate the Female Humane Association of Richmond, in Legislative Petitions of the General Assembly, 1776-1865, Accession 36121, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Va.
  • The Library of Virginia honored Elizabeth Carrington as one of its Virginia Women in History in 2013.
  • The Virginia Women in History Digital Trail is made possible by the Library of Virginia and American Evolution: Virginia to America, 1619–2019.

The daughter of a prosperous merchant, Elizabeth Jaquelin Ambler Brent Carrington (March 11, 1765–February 15, 1842) married twice and remained a widow after 1810. Educated at home by her father, Carrington read widely and recognized the importance of education for young women. She was an active Episcopalian and her religious background and interest in education likely contributed to her enthusiasm in helping establish the Female Humane Association of the City of Richmond about 1805. She joined other prominent women in drawing up its constitution and bylaws early in 1808, and in 1810 the association successfully petitioned the General Assembly for an act of incorporation.

Known for her charitable endeavors and leadership, Carrington served as the association’s secretary from at least 1810 until 1837. The association established an orphanage in 1813 and began holding an annual fund-raising fair in 1828. At a time when women rarely participated in public affairs, Carrington and the members of the Female Humane Association met an important social need that Virginia’s government had ignored. The orphanage cared for and educated destitute white girls and enabled many children to avoid lives of poverty. The association’s modern successor, the Memorial Foundation for Children, continues to support educational and cultural programs in the twenty-first century.

Reprinted with permission of the Library of Virginia.

Catherine Kerrison, "Carrington, Elizabeth Jaquelin Ambler Brent," in Dictionary of Virginia Biography, eds. Sara B. Bearss et al (Richmond: Library of Virginia, 2006), 3:35-37.