Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Martin Oster, 2 August 1811

To Martin Oster

Monticello Aug. 2. 11.


I have lately recieved a letter from M. de Beauvois of Paris stating the claims of Madame Beauvois to the property of her brother M. Piernetz, in the county of New Kent, claimed & held by a mr Ratcliffe of that county, under a supposed will of Piernetz. mr Beauvois requests me to counsel his friend and agent M. Pauly how to proceed in maintaining his claims, and says he lives in Louisa near Staunton. this error in our geography renders it impossible for me to find M. Pauly, in order to assure him of my dispositions to be useful to M. de Beauvois, & with that view to offer any services I can render. as I find by M. de Beauvois’ letter that you have been so kind as to give him information on this subject, I have presumed you would do the further favor to us both to furnish me with the address of M. Pauly, to enable me to make him a tender of my assistance in this case. I pray you to excuse this trouble on behalf of M. de Beauvois and to accept the assurances of my esteem & respect.

Th: Jefferson

PoC (MHi); at foot of text: “M. Oster Consul of France”; endorsed by TJ.

Martin Oster (ca. 1741–1827) studied law before serving in the French quartermaster’s corps during the Seven Years’ War, 1760–63. He then worked settling army accounts before obtaining employment at the Hôtel Royale des Invalides in 1765, where he eventually rose to be first secretary. Oster sailed for America late in 1777 at the behest of the French monarchy. He was named vice-consul at Philadelphia in 1778, transferred to Richmond in 1783, and later resided in Norfolk. The revolutionary government in Paris recalled Oster in 1792, but he remained in Virginia. He held a post as French commissary for commercial relations at Norfolk until the returning Bourbon monarchy retired him with a pension about 1815 (J. Rives Childs, “French Consul Martin Oster Reports on Virginia, 1784–1796,” VMHB description begins Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 1893– description ends 76 [1968]: 27–40, esp. 28–9, 38–9; Abraham P. Nasatir and Gary Elwyn Monell, French Consuls in the United States: A Calendar of their Correspondence in the Archives Nationales [1967], 566–7; Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 [1904–37], 12:948; 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 , esp. 10:544; Washington Daily National Intelligencer, 8 Dec. 1827).

staunton is in Augusta, not Louisa County.

Index Entries

  • Oster, Martin; and P. Piernet’s will search
  • Oster, Martin; identified search
  • Oster, Martin; letters to search
  • Palisot de Beauvois, Ambroise Marie François Joseph; and P. Piernet’s will search
  • Palisot de Beauvois, Mary Ann Rouelle (Jean Rouelle’s widow; A. Palisot de Beauvois’s wife); and P. Piernet’s will search
  • Pauly, Lewis Abraham; and P. Piernet’s will search
  • Piernet, Pierre (Peter); estate of search
  • Ratcliffe, Thomas; and P. Piernet’s will search