Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Hardin Perkins, 11 August 1815

To Hardin Perkins

Monticello Aug. 11. 15.


My brother lately deceased having some years ago made me the depository of his last will and testament, wherein you are named an executor, I think it a duty to put it into your hands, and now therefore inclose it to you. altho’ also named an executor, my age disables me from undertaking it,1 and the pursuits of my life have not been such as to2 qualify me for any useful interference in the affairs of the estate. the will having been all written with his own hand will need no other proof: but if that could be doubted the witnesses who attested to make it more sure, can all attend when called on. Accept the assurance of my great esteem & respect.

Th: Jefferson

PoC (MHi); on verso of reused address cover to TJ; at foot of text: “Capt Harding Perkins”; endorsed by TJ.

Hardin Perkins (ca. 1773–1821) owned land along the James River in Buckingham County in 1815. Five years later he resided in New Canton in that county. Perkins left an estate that included nineteen slaves valued at $5,270 (William Kearney Hall, Descendants of Nicholas Perkins [1957], 26–9, 87–8; Roger G. Ward, 1815 Directory of Virginia Landowners [1997–2000], 1:51; DNA: RG 29, CS, Buckingham Co., 1820; Perkins’s will in Executors of Littleberry Moon Etc. vs. Administrator of John Perkins Etc., case no. 1837-021, Circuit Superior Court, Albemarle Co. Chancery Court Records).

The enclosed, witnessed version of the May 1808 will of Randolph Jefferson has not been found. It presumably corresponded closely to extant versions in which Jefferson directed that all the slaves he owned at his death and those already given to his five sons, Thomas Jefferson (ca. 1783–1876), Robert Lewis Jefferson, Field Jefferson, Isham Randolph Jefferson, and James Lilburne Jefferson, were to be valued and the aggregate brought “into hotchpot,” so that each son would receive “only so much as, with those before given, shall make his portion of slaves equal to that of each of his other brothers”; stipulated that “all my lands and other property whatsoever be sold after my death, and the proceeds be equally divided among my said five sons, my son Thomas bringing into hotchpot with those proceeds the sum of one thousand pounds (at which I estimate the advantages I have Given him during my life) and takeing from the proceeds only so much as, being aded to the sd thousand pounds shall make his portion under this bequest equal to that of his other brothers”; and named Perkins, Robert Craig, Randolph Jefferson’s son Robert Lewis Jefferson, and TJ as his executors (FC in ViU: TJP-CC, entirely in Randolph Jefferson’s hand, dated 28 May 1808, unsigned; Dft in ViU: TJP-CC, entirely in TJ’s hand, dated 27 May 1808; endorsed by TJ: “Jefferson Randolph. rough draft of Will”). The 1808 will was presented as evidence in an unsuccessful effort by the five sons therein named to set aside a more recent will favoring their stepmother, Mitchie B. Pryor Jefferson (TJ’s Deposition regarding Randolph Jefferson’s Estate, 15 Sept. 1815).

1TJ here canceled “or.”

2TJ here canceled “enable.”

Index Entries

  • Craig, Robert; executor for R. Jefferson search
  • Jefferson, Field (TJ’s nephew; Randolph Jefferson’s son); and will of R. Jefferson search
  • Jefferson, Isham Randolph (TJ’s nephew; Randolph Jefferson’s son); and will of R. Jefferson search
  • Jefferson, James Lilburne (TJ’s nephew; Randolph Jefferson’s son); and will of R. Jefferson search
  • Jefferson, Mitchie Ballow Pryor (TJ’s sister-in-law; Randolph Jefferson’s second wife); and will of R. Jefferson search
  • Jefferson, Randolph (TJ’s brother); family of search
  • Jefferson, Randolph (TJ’s brother); will of search
  • Jefferson, Robert Lewis (TJ’s nephew; Randolph Jefferson’s son); and will of R. Jefferson search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Business & Financial Affairs; and R. Jefferson’s will search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Family & Friends; relations with R. Jefferson search
  • Jefferson, Thomas (TJ’s nephew; Randolph Jefferson’s son); and will of R. Jefferson search
  • Perkins, Hardin; as executor of R. Jefferson’s will search
  • Perkins, Hardin; identified search
  • Perkins, Hardin; letter to search