Thomas Jefferson Papers

Philip Turpin to Thomas Jefferson, 13 July 1811

From Philip Turpin

Salisbury, July 13th 1811.

Dear sir

Mr William Harris has inform’d me of his intention of making a tender of his services to his country in the naval line, and has requested a letter of recommendation to you: this request I have cheerfully complied with, as I have known Mr Harris from his infancy, and think him a young gentleman of merit and respectability, and doubt not his inclination or ability to deserve well of his country, should his services be accepted.

To you, dear sir, no apology I presume is necessary for the liberty I have taken; persuaded as I am of the pleasure you receive from furthering the views, and promoting the interests of young men of worth and respectability.

I am happy to hear by Mr Harris that you continue to enjoy a good share of health, which I sincerely wish the continuance of, not only on your own account, but also on that of your country: for I cannot but hope that if that blessing be continued, your activity of mind, and philanthropy will induce you to add to the number of your literary productions.

I have in a great measure declin’d the practice of physic; but I have not the happiness, like you, to retire with the applause of millions; nor have I your consolation, of having either written what deserves to be read, or of having perform’d what will deserve to be recorded.

With my sincerest wishes for your health & happiness

I am, dear sir, your sincere friend and hble servt

Philip Turpin

RC (MHi); endorsed by TJ as received 5 Sept. 1811 and so recorded in SJL.

Philip Turpin (1749–1828), physician and TJ’s first cousin, received an M.D. degree from the University of Edinburgh in 1774 before traveling to Paris for additional medical training. The onset of the Revolutionary War left him destitute of funds and unable to return to America. Turpin was obliged to take a position as a surgeon in the British Navy in 1777 and returned to America in that capacity in 1781. After Lord Cornwallis denied his application to pass through the lines to the American side, he remained in the British service and was captured at Yorktown. Turpin was accordingly suspected of Loyalist sympathies and relied in part on TJ’s intervention to regain his status as a Virginia citizen in December 1783. Late in the 1780s Turpin purchased a Chesterfield County estate called Salisbury from Thomas Mann Randolph (1741–93), and in 1789 he sold John Marshall the lot in Richmond on which the latter’s house still stands. Turpin’s medical practice periodically took him to the aid of TJ’s relations at Eppington (Mary Denham Ackerly and Lula Eastman Jeter Parker, “Our Kin”: The Genealogies of Some of the Early Families who Made History in the Founding and Development of Bedford County Virginia [1930], 372-3; 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 , 1:23–4, 6:324–33, 31:389; 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 , 2:936–7; Madison, Papers, Congress. Ser., 7:232–3; Marshall, Papers description begins Herbert A. Johnson, Charles T. Cullen, Charles F. Hobson, and others, eds., The Papers of John Marshall, Chapel Hill, 1974–2006, 12 vols. description ends , 2:28–9; Jeffrey M. O’Dell, Chesterfield County: Early Architecture and Historic Sites [1983], 287–8; Richmond Enquirer, 16 May 1828).

Index Entries

  • Harris, William Jordan; letter of introduction for, from P. Turpin search
  • Harris, William Jordan; seeks naval commission search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of introduction to search
  • Turpin, Philip; identified search
  • Turpin, Philip; letters from search
  • Turpin, Philip; recommends W. J. Harris search