Thomas Jefferson Papers

Philip Thornton to Thomas Jefferson, 19 November 1814

From Philip Thornton

Richmond, November 19th 1814

Dr Sir

I have made a contract for all the lead at the mines, and all that they can make, so that I shall have the exclusive buisness of making shot, I am willing to close the contract you propose, to give you one hundred and fifty dollars per year for a lease on the Natural Ridge and the tract of land appertaining thereto for seven years if the lease is not renewed the Improvements to be paid for by the proprietor at Valuation, Yours Respectfly

Philip Thornton

NB An answer is requird by the return post as I shall leave town.


RC (MHi); endorsed by TJ as received 3 Dec. 1814 and so recorded in SJL.

Philip Thornton (1788–1853), physician, received training at the Pennsylvania Hospital, 1806–08, and then returned to his native Virginia to set up a medical practice. He lived in Richmond until 1819 and on an estate thereafter in the portion of Culpeper County that became Rappahannock County. Thornton successively represented Culpeper and Rappahannock counties in the Virginia House of Delegates, 1832–33, and 1833–35. He left personal property valued at $15,100, including thirty-seven slaves (Caspar Wistar to TJ, 28 Nov. 1808 [DLC]; J. Forsyth Meigs, A History of the First Quarter of the Second Century of the Pennsylvania Hospital [1877], 96; “Autobiography of Mrs. Caroline Homassel Thornton [1795–1875],” MACH description begins Magazine of Albemarle County History, 1940–  (title varies: issued until 1951 as Papers of the Albemarle County Historical Society) description ends 6 [1945/46]: 22, 36–7, 39–40; The Richmond Directory, Register and Almanac for the Year 1819 [Richmond, 1819], 71; DNA: RG 29, CS, Culpeper Co., 1820; Leonard, General Assembly description begins Cynthia Miller Leonard, comp., The General Assembly of Virginia, July 30, 1619–January 11, 1978: A Bicentennial Register of Members, 1978 description ends , 363, 369, 373; Rappahannock Co. Will Book, C:342–3, 362–3; Washington Daily National Intelligencer, 5 Mar. 1853; gravestone inscription in Fairview Cemetery, Culpeper).

During a visit by Thornton to Monticello late in October 1814, TJ almost certainly discussed the terms of the contract with which he soon leased his land at Natural Bridge for use in manufacturing shot (Agreement to Lease Natural Bridge to Philip Thornton, 2 Dec. 1814). In a letter written from Monticello on 30 Oct., Ellen W. Randolph (Coolidge) reported to her sister Virginia J. Randolph (Trist) that “Doctor Philip Thornton called on us the other day on his way to Wythe County, he says that Papa [Thomas Mann Randolph] is talked of for the next Governor, and it is generally thought that if he will accept of the office, he will certainly be elected” (NcU: NPT).

Index Entries

  • Jefferson, Thomas; Business & Financial Affairs; and lease of Natural Bridge search
  • lead; for shot search
  • Monticello (TJ’s estate); Visitors to; Thornton, Philip search
  • Natural Bridge, Va.; and shot manufactory search
  • Natural Bridge, Va.; lease of search
  • Randolph, Thomas Mann (1768–1828) (TJ’s son-in-law; Martha Jefferson Randolph’s husband); gubernatorial prospects of search
  • rent; from Natural Bridge search
  • shot manufacture search
  • Thornton, Philip; and shot manufactory search
  • Thornton, Philip; and T. M. Randolph’s gubernatorial prospects search
  • Thornton, Philip; identified search
  • Thornton, Philip; leases Natural Bridge from TJ search
  • Thornton, Philip; letters from search
  • Thornton, Philip; visits Monticello search