1825, May 9: From the Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography:
Aylett, Patrick Henry, was born in King William county, Virginia, May 9 1825, son of John Philip Aylett, Esq., and his wife, Judith Page (Waller) Aylett. His grandmother, Elizabeth Henry, was the youngest daughter of Patrick Henry ; he attended Rumford Academy, Washington College at Lexington, Virginia; the University of Virginia, which he entered in 1844, and remained one session in the academic department, then entered Harvard College, where he was graduated in law in 1846; he began the practice of law in Richmond, in the fall of 1847, but the death of his father, who left him his executor with a large estate, induced him to return to Montville, the old home in King William county ; there he practiced his profession until 1853, when he returned to Richmond, where he spent the remainder of his life ; upon the establishment of the “Richmond Examiner,”‘ in 1847, became a contributor to its editorial columns, and in all of his editorial work seemed influenced by the responsible position which the editor of a leading paper occupied ; he was appointed by President Buchanan as a member of the board of visitors to the United States Military Academy at West Point, and was subsequently appointed by the same President, without his solicitation, United States district attorney for the eastern district of Virginia ; this position he held at the outbreak of the civil war and was immediately reappointed by President Davis as Confederate States district attorney; as a writer in the field of literature, he was as gifted as in politics and law; he married, February 23, 1853, Emily A. Rutherford, daughter of the Hon. John Rutherfoord, of Richmond; his death, in common with so many other distinguished citizens of Virginia, occurred in the dreadful calamity, when the floor of the supreme court room in the state capitol gave way, April 27, 1870; in all the sorrow of that affliction the death of no man was more sincerely mourned and was a greater loss to state and family than was that of Mr. Aylett; he was survived by his wife and three daughters: Mrs. W’illiam L. Royal, Mrs. John Enders, Mrs. Thomas Boiling, all of Richmond, Virginia.
At the Richmond Examiner as an editorial writer, his mentor was John Daniel:
Notable among these political editors was John M. Daniel, who just before 1850 became editor of the Richmond Examiner and soon made it the leading newspaper of the South. Perhaps no better example need be sought of brilliant invective and literary pungency in American journalism just prior to and during the Civil War than in Daniel’s contributions to the Examiner. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_American_newspapers)
At the Examiner, one of the fellow writers and editors was none other than Edgar Allen Poe:
The venerable Bishop O. P. Fitzgerald writes: —
“I was in Richmond in 1849, and remember Mr. Poe, with his white linen coat and trousers, black velvet vest, and broad Panama hat. He was the most notable fibre among the group of specialists that gathered around John M. Daniel, editor of the Richmond Examiner. Daniel was an electric battery, fully charged, whose touches shocked the staid and lofty-minded leaders in Virginia Politics. There was about him that indefinable charm that draws men of genius towards one another, though differing in the quality and measure of their endowment. There was Robert W. Hughes, with his strong judicial brain, just starting on his path of distinction. There was Patrick Henry Aylett, a descendant of the great orator, and a rising young lawyer. There was Arthur Petticolas, who had an æsthetic touch that gave his dissertations on Art a special charm and value. The Examiner under Daniel was a free lance: it made things lively for all sorts of readers.
“Mr. Poe naturally found his way thereto as literary editor. He had already attained celebrity as a writer whose prose and poetry were unlike those of all other persons. The reading public was watching him expectantly, looking for greater things. There was about him something that drew especial notice. His face was one of the saddest ever seen. His step was gentle, his voice soft, yet clear; his presence altogether winning. Though unlike in most particulars, Poe and Daniel affiliated in dealing with a world in which sin and folly on the one hand provoked their wrath and scorn, and on the other appealed to their pity and helpfulness.
“That Mr. Poe was battling with tragic threatenings at this time, note seems pretty clear. The literary public of Richmond knew enough of him to elicit a profound interest in his behalf. They wished to express their good will and invited him to deliver a lecture. The whole transaction was unique and gave a touch of the Old South. The lecture was delivered, and by special. request the lecturer then and there recited his own poem, ‘The Raven,’ the remembrance of which is a pleasure to one of his hearers — unto this day.”
Judge Hughes and others of the Examiner have also told of his work done in that office. He sent many of his best known poems revised into the composing room, where they were typeset for future use, but only “The Raven” and” Dream-Land” appeared. The others, however, were preserved in proof sheets and used by F. W. Thomas, who was afterwards connected with the Richmond Enquirer as literary editor, to prepare a new edition of Poe’s poems. These are now published for the first time.
From 1859-1864, PHA served on the Board of Visitors at the University of Virginia.
During the bleak years of Reconstruction in Virginia, he was back to his legal role in Richmond. When the illustrious Judge Christian made a turn-of-the-century address to the Richmond Bar, nearly four decades after Aylett’s death, PHA was fondy remembered, but there was also this:
Mr. Aylett’s wit, sarcasm and invective were at times convulsing and withering. I remember hearing him refer to a “carpet-bagger” named Bond, who came here and was made the Register in Bankruptcy under the infamous Underwood, who, although very lean and lank when he came, grew fat both in pocket and in flesh whilst in that office. Referring to Bond, he said, that ‘miserable creature came here as lean and lank as a weasel, and has grown fat feeding on the super-phosphate of bankrupt bones.” source: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1102980