This Convention followed the Second Virginia Convention, which opened on March 20, 1775. After the dismissal of the second Convention, the battles of Lexington and Concord, the first of the American Revolutionary War, took place on April 19 in Massachusetts. In June, Virginia governor John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore called the House of Burgesses to Richmond for the last time, to consider the Conciliatory Resolution. The Conciliatory Resolution called on the Thirteen Colonies to lay down their arms and promised that any colony to raise taxes for the common defense and for its own civil government would be relieved of additional taxation. The Burgesses rejected it. Dunmore fled the capital.
The Third Convention, like the Second, was held at St. John's Episcopal Church and presided over by Peyton Randolph. The Convention appointed a committee of safety, among whose members were Edmund Pendleton, George Mason, John Page, Richard Bland, Thomas Ludwell Lee, Paul Carrington, Dudley Digges, William Cabell, Carter Braxton, James Mercer, and John Tabb, to govern Virginia in the governor's absence. It also divided Virginia into sixteen military districts and resolved to raise regular regiments, among them the Culpeper Minutemen.