Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Wilson, 8 May 1810

To Thomas Wilson

Monticello May 8. 10.


Your letter, tho dated Apr. 9. did not get to my hands till the 5th inst. I now return the account it inclosed, & mr Lyon’s statement as requested, having retained copies. the only concern I ever had in the administration of mr Wayles’s estate was in the arrangement of his books & papers immediately after his death in 1773. the commencement of the revolution happening1 a year or two after, I was called off to the public service & ever after constantly employed in it. the papers were delivered to the late mr Eppes, who transacted the whole business afterwards. of every thing respecting it therefore I am entirely ignorant, & do not possess a single paper. I expect every day to be called to a meeting with the other representatives of mr Wayles, mr John W. Eppes & Colo Skipwith, where I will present your letter & claim, and concur with them in whatever they think right. when we consider a small unsettled account the items of which are of 40. years standing and upwards during which there have been but 8. years within which it might not have been efficaciously demanded, every person now dead who knew any thing of it, the statement of mr Lyons who appears to have known of some credits reducing the balance of £27–12–4 as stated in the account you sent me to £19–11–9 without saying what these credits were from which we might have judged whether there might not be more such unknown to him, the circuitous mode of paiment before the revolution, resulting from the scarcity of circulating medium, by orders from one to another round a whole circle of debtors, no one making an entry in his books till he knew of actual paiment, the doubts cannot but be strong. mr Wayles’s books however were very accurate. if they should concur, there will be no difficulty. I do not mean by what I have said either to reject or admit the demand, of which your letter gives me the first & only information I have. the other representatives will decide, & the answer will probably be given you by mr John W. Eppes, who holds the papers of the estate and will continue the administration unfinished by his father. I do not propose myself at this late day to enter into any part of the business. accept the assurances of my respect.

Th: Jefferson

PoC (MHi); at foot of first page: “Mr Thos Wilson”; endorsed by TJ. Enclosures not found.

Thomas Wilson (d. 1818), merchant and later mayor of Richmond, acted as agent for the Scottish trading firm of Spiers & Company, formerly Alexander Spiers, John Bowman, & Company. During the 1770s that concern employed TJ as an attorney (MB description begins James A. Bear Jr. and Lucia C. Stanton, eds., Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767–1826, 1997, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series description ends ; J. H. Soltow, “Scottish Traders In Virginia, 1750–1775,” Economic History Review 12 [1959]: 85; Richmond Enquirer, 5 May 1818).

The letter of apr. 9, not found, is recorded in SJL as received 5 May 1810 from “Spiers & co. Wilson Thos for them Richmd.”

1Word interlined in place of “beginning.”

Index Entries

  • Eppes, Francis (TJ’s brother-in-law); as J. Wayles’s executor search
  • Eppes, John Wayles (TJ’s son-in-law); and Gilliam v. Fleming search
  • Gilliam v. Fleming; and settlement of accounts search
  • Lyons, Peter search
  • Skipwith, Henry (TJ’s brother-in-law); and Gilliam v. Fleming search
  • Skipwith, Henry (TJ’s brother-in-law); as J. Wayles’s executor search
  • Wayles, John (TJ’s father-in-law); and Gilliam v. Fleming search
  • Wilson, Thomas; and J. Wayles estate search
  • Wilson, Thomas; identified search
  • Wilson, Thomas; letters from accounted for search
  • Wilson, Thomas; letters to search