The son of Ann Nelson and John Grant Rencher, Abraham Rencher (1798-1883) was born in Wake County, NC, near Raleigh. He received his preparatory education at the school of Rev. John Chavis, a free black who attended Washington Academy (now Washington and Lee University) and who probably also studied at the College of New Jersey (Princeton) with John Witherspoon. Rencher graduated with honors from the University of North Carolina in 1822 and taught school for a while in Petersburg, VA. By 1825 he had received his license to practice law, having studied under Judge Frederick Nash in Hillsborough, NC. Rencher received an MA from the University in 1831 and in 1836 married Louisa Mary Jones. The couple had four children. From 1829 to 1839 and from 1841 to 1843, Rencher served in the US House of Representatives, first as a Democrat and, after 1835, as a Whig, though his voting record indicates that he was not always entirely in sympathy with Whig principles. In 1843 President Tyler appointed Rencher chargé d'affaires to Portugal. On returning to the US in 1847, he resumed his law practice in Pittsboro, NC, until 1857, when President Buchanan appointed Rencher governor of the Territory of New Mexico, a post he held until 1861. After the Civil War broke out, Rencher was replaced as governor and returned to Pittsboro (Dictionary of North Carolina Biography 5:199-200).