Secretary of State

Christopher Greenup

Term of OfficeFebruary 3, 1813 - March 13, 1813
Significant AccomplishmentsHe served in two of the Danville conventions that led to Kentucky's statehood in 1792. He served as Governor of Kentucky (1804-1808).
Governor during his term of OfficeGov. Isaac Shelby
Assistant Secretary of StateFleming Trigg
EducationAdmitted to the Bar in 1783, opening his law practice in Fayette County.
Spouse(s)Mary Catherine Pope
ResidenceKentucky (Fayette County; Franklin County)
OccupationAttorney; Land Surveyor & Speculator
Birth Date1/1/1753
Birth PlaceVirginia (Westmoreland or Loudon Co.)
Date of Death4/17/1818
Place of DeathKentucky (Frankfort, Franklin County)
Place of BurialKentucky (Frankfort Cemetery, Franklin County)
National OfficesU.S. Congress (1792-1797)
Other State Offices HeldState Elector; Member of the Court of Oyer & Terminer; Clerk of the District Court at Harrodsburg (1785-1792); House of Representatives (1798); Senate Clerk (1799-1802); Ky. Governor (1804-1808); Asst Secretary of State (Aug. 1812- prob. 2/3/1813)
County Offices HeldJudge of the Franklin Circuit Court (1802); Franklin County Justice of the Peace (1812).
Military ServiceRevolutionary War: Lieutenant (Continental Army) & Colonel (Virginia Militia)
NoteBorn circa 1750 in Westmoreland or Loudon County, Va. (Note: Please disregard 1/1/1753 date of birth). Some resources list his date of death as April 27, 1818.
Historical FirstsOne of the original Trustees of Transylvania University, Lexington, Ky.
First former Governor to be appointed Kentucky Secretary of State.
Greenup County and the county seat, Greenup, are named in honor of Christopher Greenup's service to the Commonwealth.

Christopher Greenup was born circa 1750, in Loudoun or Westmoreland County, Virginia. His parents are unknown. He studied surveying and the law before seeing service as a colonel of the Virginia Militia during the Revolutionary War. He also served as an officer in the Continental Army. In 1781, he moved to Lincoln County in what was then trans-Appalachian Virginia where he practiced law while also engaged in surveying and land speculation.

He held a variety of political and judicial posts in the 1780s. In 1787, while in Virginia, he married Mary Catherine Pope, a daughter of Nathaniel and Lucy Fox Pope. Greenup moved to Frankfort in 1792 where he served as a state elector and as a member of the Court of Oyer and Terminer. He resigned this judicial position to run for the U. S. Congress as a Jeffersonian-Republican in 1792. He was elected and served two terms from 1792 to 1797. In 1798, he was elected to the Kentucky House and then served as clerk of the Kentucky Senate from 1799 to 1802.

He ran for Governor in 1800 and finished second in a four-man race. In 1804, he ran for Governor unopposed. Although he had a good relationship with the General Assembly, he was not able to win approval for his reform proposals, including state support for education.

After he left office, Greenup pursued his various business enterprises. In August 1812, Secretary of State Martin D. Hardin, with the approbation of Governor Isaac Shelby, appointed Christopher Greenup, Esquire, to serve as Assistant Secretary of State. (Ref: Governor Isaac Shelby's Executive Journal, 1812-1818, pg 4.)

On December 15, 1812, Martin Hardin resigned his office. On February 3, 1813, Governor Isaac Shelby nominated Christopher Greenup to serve as Kentucky’s Secretary of State. On February 4, 1813, Christopher Greenup, Esquire, was commissioned Secretary “with the approbation of the Senate” to serve "during good behaviour and the present Governor’s term.” (Ref: Governor Isaac Shelby’s Executive Journal, 1812-1818, pg. 53)

On March 13, 1813, Governor Isaac Shelby received the resignation of Christopher Greenup, Esquire, as Secretary of State. Upon receipt of Greenup’s resignation, Martin D. Hardin was commissioned a second time to serve as Governor Shelby’s Secretary of State. (Ref: Governor Isaac Shelby’s Executive Journal, 1812-1818, pgs. 63-64.)

Christopher Greenup died at his home in Frankfort on April 17, 1818, and was buried in the Frankfort Cemetery.


"Biographical Cyclopedia," (1896), pgs 577-78;

"Biographical Encyclopedia," (1878), pgs 200-201;

Collins, "History of Kentucky, Vol. II," (1874), pgs 203-4;

Harrison, ed., "Kentucky Governors," (2004), pgs 12-15;

"Kentucky Encyclopedia," (1992), pgs 388-89;

Governor Isaac Shelby's Executive Journal, 1812-1818, pgs 4, 53, 63-64.