Thomas Jefferson Papers

Peter Derieux to Thomas Jefferson, 25 February 1811

From Peter Derieux

Warrenton. (North Carolina) Ce 25. Fevrier. 1811.


Vos anciennes bontés pour moi me font esperer que vous voudrés bien excuser la liberté que je prends de me rappeller a votre souvenir, en vous presentant lassurance de mes sentiments et ceux de Me Derieux. Depuis trois mois nous avons quittés L Etat de Virginia et venus habiter celui de la Caroline, y ayant obtenu une situation un peu plus Lucrative qu’auparavant; plusieurs de mes Enfants sont maintenant Etablis, et il ne nous en reste que trois avec nous, dont un garcon de 12. ans qui vat au College et ses deux jeunes soeurs, a L’Education des quelles Mme Derieux donne tous ses soins.

Voudriés vous bien me faire L’amitié Monsieur, de m’informer si vous avés recu depuis peu des nouvelles de Mr Mazzei mon beaupere, et a quel endroit je puis lui adresser des Lettres que j ai pour lui, et veuillés permettre que Mr et Madame Randolph trouvent ici Lassurance des respects de Mde Derieux et les miens.

J’ai L’honneur d’etre dans les Sentiments du plus profond respect et attachement

Monsieur Votre très humble et très obeist Serviteur

P. Derieux

Editors’ Translation

Warrenton. (North Carolina) 25. February. 1811.


You have been so kind to me in the past that it makes me hope you will forgive the liberty I take in asking you to remember me, as I offer you the assurance of my sentiments and those of Mrs. Derieux. Over the past three months we have moved from Virginia to Carolina, where we have a position a little more lucrative than before. Several of my children are now settled outside the home, and the only ones remaining with us are a boy of twelve, who goes to grammar school, and his two young sisters, to whose education Mrs. Derieux gives all her attention.

Would you, Sir, kindly inform me whether you have recently received news of Mr. Mazzei, my father-in-law, and where I may send the letters that I have for him? And please extend to Mr. and Mrs. Randolph the assurance of Mrs. Derieux’s and my respects.

I have the honor to be with highest respect and devotion

Sir your most humble and very obedient servant

P. Derieux

RC (DLC); dateline at foot of text; endorsed by TJ as received 21 Mar. 1811 and so recorded in SJL. Translation by Dr. Roland H. Simon.

Peter (Justin Pierre Plumard) Derieux (1756–1824) was a member of a French noble family and an officer in the Garde Français of Louis XVI. He married Philip Mazzei’s stepdaughter, Maria Margherita Martin, in Paris in 1780. Derieux’s financial prospects were poor, and at Mazzei’s suggestion and expense the couple immigrated to Virginia in 1783. They lived for several years at Colle, Mazzei’s estate near Monticello. Derieux subsequently moved his growing family to Charlottesville, Goochland County (1795), Monroe County (by 1800), North Carolina (1810), Richmond (1813), Prince Edward County (1821), and Buckingham County (1823). Despite assistance from Marie Françoise Plumard de Bellanger, other relations, and TJ himself, Derieux struggled to provide for his large family. His house burned down. He was often unable to work because of rheumatism, and his efforts to farm and engage in mercantile pursuits met with little success. While living in Richmond, Derieux was a barkeeper. His wife frequently ran schools to help make ends meet. The couple contested Mazzei’s will after his death in 1816, having expected to inherit the proceeds from the sale of his Richmond property even though the will did not name them. The issue remained unresolved at TJ’s death (Edwin R. Lancaster, Our French Ancestors and How They Came to Virginia [1917], 7–8, 13–20, 25–7; Bessie E. L. Price, Some Extracts from the Correspondence of Justin Pierre Plumard Comte de Rieux [1913]; PTJ description begins Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 1950– , 32 vols. description ends , 19:602–3, 28:58–60, 31:544; 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 , esp. 2:919, 977; Mazzei, Writings description begins Margherita Marchione and others, eds., Philip Mazzei: Selected Writings and Correspondence, 1983, 3 vols. description ends ; TJ to Mazzei, 29 Dec. 1813; TJ to Derieux, 26 Jan. 1817; ViHi: Derieux family Bible record).

Index Entries

  • Colle (P. Mazzei’s Albemarle Co. estate) search
  • Derieux, Maria Margherita Martin (Peter Derieux’s wife); financial situation of search
  • Derieux, Peter (Justin Pierre Plumard); and P. Mazzei search
  • Derieux, Peter (Justin Pierre Plumard); financial situation of search
  • Derieux, Peter (Justin Pierre Plumard); identified search
  • Derieux, Peter (Justin Pierre Plumard); letters from search
  • health; rheumatism search
  • Mazzei, Philip; and P. Derieux search
  • Mazzei, Philip; family of search
  • Mazzei, Philip; Richmond property of search
  • Plumard de Bellanger, Marie Françoise; assists P. Derieux search
  • Randolph, Martha Jefferson (Patsy; TJ’s daughter; Thomas Mann Randolph’s wife); greetings to search
  • Randolph, Thomas Mann (1768–1828) (TJ’s son-in-law; Martha Jefferson Randolph’s husband); greetings to search
  • rheumatism; as disability search