Peyton Randolph was the son of Edmund Jennings Randolph who had been a delegate to the Continental Congress, Governor of Virginia, and the first U.S. Attorney General. He was born in Williamsburg, Virginia in 1779, graduated from the College of William and Mary in 1798, studied law, and practiced in Richmond.
He served on the Virginia Privy Council from 1809 to 1812. Following the death of Governor George William Smith, and 68 others, in the burning of the Richmond Theater on December 26, 1811, Randolph served as the Acting Governor of Virginia, from December 26, 1811 until January 3, 1812.
For many years Randolph was clerk of the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. He was the court's official reporter from 1821 until his death, and produced the Virginia Reports, the court's official published case records.
He died in Richmond on December 26, 1828.