Thomas Jefferson Papers

William Nelson to Thomas Jefferson, 19 June 1809

From William Nelson

Westover June 19th 1809

Dear Sir

Your power and disposition to give information and assistance to others in various ways must be my apology for obtruding this address upon you in your retirement—If this were not sufficient, your former acquaintance with Colo Byrd, and the kindness you have shewn on other occasions in informing Mrs Byrd of the situation of some property to which the estate was entitled, would justify my troubling you on this occasion—

Mrs Byrd lately observed in the “Argus” published in Richmond, an advertizement signed “James Irwin,” directed “to all Officers and Soldiers, or their legal representatives, who served in the regiment called “Virga Blues” commanded by the late Genl (then Colo) Geo. Washington, from the year 1754 to 1764, and all those who served in the corps called the 60th regiment Royal Americans commanded by Colo Henry Bouquet; and also all those who served in the Pennsylvania-Provincials” (which are enumerated). Notice is thereby given that they are entitled to a valuable bounty of Crown-land, by virtue of the King of England’s proclamation, dated the 7th October, 1793. (This probably ought to be 1763)—Applications are to be made before the 15th of July next.

Colo Byrd, (as Mrs Byrd informs me) went into the Army in 1756, and had the Command of the 2d Virginia Regiment untill it was disbanded, she thinks, in the year 1758. Colo Washington had the command of the first Virginia-Regiment—He married and retired, Mrs B says—She adds that the Virginia-Assembly, she believes, at the requisition of the King, and the Commander in Chief (Sir Jeffy Amherst I think) raised another Regiment called the Virginia-Regiment, chiefly composed of the Officers and Soldiers, who had served in the first Regiments. Colo Byrd was appointed to the command of this Regiment & served1 untill it was disbanded.

Can you inform us, my dear Sir, why2 Colo B’s Regiment is omitted from those to whom the Notice is directed?

Is the Bounty now to be paid in Land confined to inferior-Officers?


Do you suppose that Colo B’s representatives have a right to any part of this Bounty?

It is well known to you that they have recd a Bounty in Land under the King of England’s Proclamation. It is probable that Genl Washington had also, & others mentioned in the advertizement—

If therefore this be an additional Bounty, and the Colonels are included in it, Colo B’s representatives may probably be entitled.

As soon as your leisure from more important concerns will permit, I beg the favor of you to let me hear from you by a letter directed to me at Wmsburg—

I am, with all possible Respect, & esteem, Dr Sir, Yr obedt St

Wm Nelson

RC (DLC); addressed: “Thomas Jefferson Monticello near Charlottesville”; franked and postmarked; endorsed by TJ as received 29 June 1809 and so recorded in SJL.

William Nelson (ca. 1760–1813), attorney and law professor at the College of William and Mary, rose to lieutenant colonel in the Continental army, represented James City County in 1783 and York County from 1788 to 1791 in the House of Delegates, served on the Council of State, 1784–86, and sat on the Virginia General Court from 1791 until his death. His second wife, Abby Byrd, was the daughter of William Byrd (1728–77), and his second wife, Mary Willing Byrd (PTJ description begins Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 1950– , 31 vols. description ends , 28:63–4; Heitman, Continental Army description begins Francis B. Heitman, comp., Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army during the War of the Revolution, April, 1775, to December, 1783, rev. ed., 1914 description ends , 411; Marion Tinling, ed., The Correspondence of the Three William Byrds of Westover, Virginia, 1684–1776 [1977], 2:829; Richmond Enquirer, 16 Mar. 1813).

The advertisement was dated 15 Apr. 1809 and published in the Richmond Virginia Argus on 9 June 1809. During the French and Indian War, William Byrd enlisted under Lord Loudoun in 1756, became colonel of the 2d Virginia Regiment in 1758, and in 1759 was appointed commander of the 1st Virginia regiment (DVB description begins John T. Kneebone and others, eds., Dictionary of Virginia Biography, 1998– , 3 vols. description ends ).

1Preceding two words interlined.

2Reworked from “what.”

Index Entries

  • 60th Royal American Regiment search
  • Amherst, Sir Jeffery search
  • Bouquet, Henri search
  • Byrd, Mary Willing (second wife of William Byrd [1728–77]); and bounty land search
  • Byrd, William (1728–77); and bounty land search
  • French and Indian War search
  • Irwin, James search
  • Loudoun, John Campbell, 4th Earl of search
  • Nelson, William; and bounty for W. Byrd search
  • Nelson, William; identified search
  • Nelson, William; letters from search
  • newspapers; Richmond Virginia Argus search
  • Pennsylvania; Provincials in French and Indian War search
  • Virginia Argus (Richmond newspaper); advertisement in search
  • Washington, George; and Seven Years’ War search