George Claiborne Thompson was born February 7, 1749, in Fluvanna, Virginia, the son of Joseph Thompson and Sarah Claiborne. Left impoverished at the age of 14 after his father died and his older brother inherited the family estate, Thompson worked as a "striker" for a blacksmith to support himself and his younger brother. A family friend and client acted as Thompson's benefactor after discovering his situation, and Thompson received an education and a start in business. In 1773, he married Rebecca Burton, with whom he had a son, also named George Claiborne Thompson. At the start of the Revolutionary War, he was a captain in the British militia, but he joined the American forces in May 1775 and rose to the rank of colonel. In 1777, he was the commanding officer at Williamsburg. He was twice elected to the Virginia Assembly in 1779 and 1780, and in 1781, he served as an aide to General Lafayette.
After the war, Thompson worked as a surveyor and a politician and settled on a 2000-acre estate, "Shawnee Springs," a few miles north of Harrodsburg, Virginia, which became part of Kentucky in 1792. Beginning that year, he served as a judge in the Quarter Sessions court, and in 1799, he became a member of the Kentucky Assembly for Mercer County. He died March 22, 1834.
George Claiborne Thompson, Jr., (1778-1856) served in the Kentucky Mounted Volunteers and was with William Henry Harrison at the Battle of Tippecanoe; he served in several other engagements in Tecumseh's War during the War of 1812. He became speaker of the Kentucky House of Representatives in 1821.