Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Robert Leslie, 27 April 1802

From Robert Leslie

Philada April 27th 1802


before I went to London, I made you a Small Clock with a Sceleton frame, which I was informed did not perform well. I tharefore Wrote to Mr Price, to return you the money you paid for it, and send the Clock to me, Some time after which, I received the Clock, and Supposed Mr Price had refunded the money. I have now finished the examination of Mr Prices Books and papers, and do not find any thing on the subject, and am therefore of opinion he has not returned you the money. if So, I will thank you to inform me when Convenient, also the amount you gave for the Clock, as I do not recolect it, and my former Shop Book ware left with Mr Price and not now to be found. I had also a large House Clock, made for you which was not compleat when I went a way, I left orders with the man1 that made it, to attend to it till it gave satisfaction. I find in Mr Prices Books that he paid the man 14 Dollars for work done to it after I left the City but do not know wheather it was compleat or not, and will thank you to inform me

I am with respect your Humble Servt

Robert Leslie

RC (MHi); at head of text: “The President of the United States”; endorsed by TJ as received 30 Apr. and so recorded in SJL.

Leslie WENT TO LONDON in 1793 and did not return to the United States until 1800. The SMALL CLOCK with a skeleton frame may have been the “little balance clock” mentioned by TJ in his letter to Leslie of 12 Dec. 1793, which Leslie’s assistant, Peter Spurck, “could not make go at all.” “He told me so before hand,” TJ explained, “so that I did not receive it” (Vol. 27:508; Vol. 32:514n).

Shortly before departing for London, Leslie formed a partnership with Philadelphia watchmaker Isaac PRICE, which lasted until Price’s death from yellow fever in September 1798 (Philadelphia Independent Gazetteer, 5 Jan. 1793; Gazette of the United States, 18 Sep. 1798; Philadelphia Gazette, 12 Apr. 1799; Vol. 26:463).

LARGE HOUSE CLOCK: that is, the Great Clock designed by TJ and made by Peter Spurck, which hangs in the entrance hall at Monticello. Spurck was forced to alter the clock considerably before it worked properly, a situation TJ believed was brought about by the “bungling manner in which he had made it.” TJ’s memorandum books record payments to Spurck of $15 in August 1793 “in part for clock” and of $12 in January 1794 “balce. for great clock” (Vol. 27:lii, 508, 839–40; MB description begins James A. Bear, Jr., and Lucia C. Stanton, eds., Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767–1826, Princeton, 1997, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series description ends , 2:900, 911).

1MS: “may.”

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