Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to John Bracken, 2 August 1811

To John Bracken

Monticello Aug. 2. 11.


I have lately recieved a letter from mr Mazzei in which he sais ‘I have several times mentioned to you the unhappy state of the poor old sisters of our deceased friend Bellini. referring you to former letters, I will only add to what I have before said, my prayers for your aid to the interests of these poor & distressed old women.’

On recurring to our former correspondence on this subject I observe you had sent me a letter containing a bill of exchange for these ladies, but on information of the failure of the merchant on whom the bill was drawn, you had desired me to return the letter. entirely unacquainted with any transactions in the case since that, I take the liberty, in compliance with the request of mr Mazzei, of only saying that if I can be useful in conveying either letters or remittances to the representatives of mr Bellini, I shall do it with pleasure, and pray you to accept the assurances of my great respect.

Th: Jefferson

PoC (DLC); at foot of text: “The revd Mr Bracken”; endorsed by TJ. Probably enclosed in TJ to Robert Saunders, 25 Dec. 1815 and Saunders to TJ, 20 Feb. 1816.

John Bracken (1747–1818) immigrated to Virginia from his native England by the summer of 1769 and was ordained a minister of the Church of England in 1772. The following year he was elected rector of Bruton Parish in Williamsburg, a position he held until his death. In 1775 Bracken became the master of the grammar school at the College of William and Mary and, two years later, he attained the associated position of professor of humanity. He lost this post with the abolition of the grammar school in 1779, taught privately for more than a decade, and was reinstated by William and Mary at his former rank in 1792. Bracken served as Williamsburg’s mayor on several occasions and was president of the board of the Public Hospital. He succeeded James Madison as bishop of Virginia and president of William and Mary at the latter’s death in 1812. In poor health and lacking the vigor to revive either struggling institution, Bracken gave up his diocese in May 1813 without being consecrated, and he resigned the college’s presidency at the request of its board of visitors in June of the following year (DVB description begins John T. Kneebone and others, eds., Dictionary of Virginia Biography, 1998– , 3 vols. description ends ; Rutherfoord Goodwin, “The Reverend John Bracken [1745–1818], Rector of Bruton Parish and President of William and Mary College in Virginia,” Historical Magazine of the Protestant Episcopal Church 10 [1941]: 354–89; Bracken to TJ, 6 Aug. 1805 [DLC]; Richmond Enquirer, 24 July 1818).

Bracken sent TJ a bill of exchange for the Bellini sisters on 6 Feb. 1807 but asked him to return it on 3 Mar. of that year (both letters in DLC).

Index Entries

  • Bellini, Aurora (Maria Aurora Gaspera); and C. Bellini estate search
  • Bellini, Charles (Carlo Maria Marchionne); estate of search
  • Bellini, Luisa (Louisa; Maria Luisa Eleonora); and C. Bellini estate search
  • Bracken, John; and C. Bellini estate search
  • Bracken, John; identified search
  • Bracken, John; letters to search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Business & Financial Affairs; and C. Bellini estate search
  • Mazzei, Philip; and C. Bellini’s sisters search