Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to William D. Taylor, 1 April 1817

To William D. Taylor

Monticello Apr. 1. 17.


A friend informs me he has seen in the Enquirer a tract of land of mine in Rockbridge, of 157. acres including the Natural bridge advertized for sale for the taxes. I suppose this must have been in that paper of Mar. 21. which has failed to come to me and therefore not seen by myself. the lands being under lease I had relied on the tenant for the payment of the taxes. I must now ask the favor of you to apply to mr Gibson of the firm of Gibson & Jefferson of Richmond, who, on presenting this letter will pay the amount due. you will further oblige me by committing the reciept to the mail, that I may be at ease as to the payment. Accept the assurance of my respect.

Th: Jefferson

PoC (MHi); on verso of reused address cover of David Higginbotham to TJ, 22 Feb. 1817; at foot of text: “William D. Taylor esq.”; endorsed by TJ.

William D. Taylor (1781–1858) was appointed tax collector in 1814 for the 18th Collection District of Virginia, which consisted of Goochland, Hanover, Henrico, and Charles City counties. Taylor was postmaster for Taylorsville, Hanover County, 1819–25, followed by service at Goochland Court House, 1825–28, and then a return to his former position at Taylorsville from 1828 until at least 1856. His business interests also included milling, the proprietorship of the Taylorsville horse races, horse breeding, and tavern keeping. In 1850 Taylor owned forty-eight slaves (Virginia Genealogical Society Quarterly Bulletin 6 [1968]: 61; JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States description ends , 2:455–6, 468 [18 Jan., 4 Feb. 1814]; U.S. Statutes at Large description begins Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States … 1789 to March 3, 1845, 1845–67, 8 vols. description ends , 3:22–34, esp. 24; Acts of Assembly description begins Acts of the General Assembly of Virginia (cited by session; title varies over time) description ends [1814–15 sess.], 102 [13 Dec. 1814]; [1841–42 sess.], 29 [17 Feb. 1842]; Axelson, Virginia Postmasters description begins Edith F. Axelson, Virginia Postmasters and Post Offices, 1789–1832, 1991 description ends , 76, 90; Daniel D. T. Leech, Post Office Directory; or, Business Man’s Guide to the Post Offices in the United States [1856], 183; Richmond Enquirer, 5 Apr. 1836; American Turf Register and Sporting Magazine 2 [1830]: 151–2; DNA: RG 29, CS, Hanover Co., 1850 slave schedules; gravestone inscription in Taylor Cemetery, Doswell).

Although Taylor’s collection district did not include Rockbridge County, where TJ’s tract of land was located, as the collector in Richmond he orchestrated the sale of lands on which taxes were overdue. An advertisement he placed in the 21 Mar. 1817 issue of the Richmond Enquirer listed the properties in Augusta and Rockbridge on which the direct tax of 1815 had gone unpaid for a year, stating that these tracts, “or so much thereof, as may be necessary to satisfy the said Tax due thereon, with an addition of twenty per cent.,” would be “sold, at public sale, at the Bell-Tavern, in the City of Richmond, in the County of Henrico, on Friday, the 16th day of May, 1817, at 10 o’clock, A.M. and continue from day to day, until sold.” One of the Rockbridge properties was “Thos. Jefferson, 157 acres of land, on both sides of Cedar creek; and includes the Natural bridge, improved,” which owed $6.21 in taxes. In the same notice Taylor requested the editors of the Lynchburg Press and the Winchester Republican Constellation to run the advertisement “once a week for eight weeks” and send him the bill.

TJ’s tenant at Natural Bridge was Philip Thornton.

Index Entries

  • Gibson, Patrick; payments made for TJ search
  • Gibson & Jefferson (Richmond firm); payments made for TJ search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Business & Financial Affairs; and lease of Natural Bridge search
  • Lynchburg Press (newspaper); advertisements in search
  • Natural Bridge, Va.; lease of search
  • Natural Bridge, Va.; taxes on search
  • newspapers; Lynchburg Press search
  • newspapers; WinchesterRepublican Constellation search
  • Republican Constellation (Winchester newspaper) search
  • Richmond Enquirer (newspaper); advertises sale of land for tax delinquencies search
  • Rockbridge County, Va.; taxes in search
  • taxes; on land search
  • taxes; on Natural Bridge search
  • taxes; TJ pays search
  • Taylor, William D.; and TJ’s taxes search
  • Taylor, William D.; identified search
  • Taylor, William D.; letter to search
  • Thornton, Philip; leases Natural Bridge from TJ search