James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William Thornton, 19 November 1804

From William Thornton

Novr: 19th: 1804.

The Terms on which I have let brood Mares are these—

The Person who takes them breeds from them by putting them yearly to the best Horses, and after rearing the foals till they are three yrs. old sets a price on each which he will either give or take; he being at all expense till then.

On the above Terms I will let two Mares; one by Driver1 out of the full sister of Nontocka2 by Hall’s Eclipse (imported)3 her grand Dam Young Ebony, by Don Carlos, gt. grand Dam Young Selima by old Fearnought; gt. gt. gr: dam old Ebony by Othello; gt. gt. gt. gr: dam Old Selima (imported) by the Godolphin Arabian.4

The above Mare in foal to Clifden.5

Another Mare by Old Medley, dam by Clockfast6—I have not yet got her Pedigree—but was assured of having it when Mr. Robinson returns from the Mediterranean—that she is thorough bred, and I know she ran successfully at Alexandria. She has a Colt by Wild Medley,7 & is in foal by Clifden. As the foal was rather late it was not weaned, and may go with the Mare on the same terms.

W: Thornton.


1There were several famous stallions named Driver in the early history of American horse breeding. Thornton probably referred here to his own Driver, foaled in 1795 (John Hankins Wallace, Wallace’s American Stud-Book; Being a Compilation of the Pedigrees of American and Imported Blood Horses, with an Appendix of All Animals without Extended Pedigrees prior to 1840 … [New York, 1867], 138; Fairfax Harrison, comp., Early American Turf Stock, 1730–1830 [2 vols.; Richmond, Va., 1934–35], 2:292–93).

2“Nontocka” is the horse Nantoaki (Wallace’s American Stud-Book, 1:269).

3Eclipse, later known as Hall’s Eclipse, was imported from England by Richard B. Hall of Prince Georges County, Maryland (ibid., 144).

4Old Selima was one of the foundation mares of American bloodlines. Thornton here gives his first mare’s ancestry on one side as far as the sire, Hall’s Eclipse, then continues with another line of ancestry when listing the dams (Harrison, Early American Turf Stock, 1:24, 69–74; Wallace’s American Stud-Book, 508–9, 728).

5Clifden was imported from England by Thornton in 1799 (PJM-PS description begins Robert A. Rutland et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Presidential Series (5 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1984–). description ends , 2:112 n. 1).

6Thornton is presumably referring to the Medley that was imported in 1784 by Hart and McDonald of Louisa, Virginia. Clockfast was also imported in 1784 by Hart and McDonald (John Hervey, Racing in America, 1665–1865 [2 vols.; New York, 1944], 1:151, 154).

7There were at least two stallions called Wild Medley at this time. Thornton probably meant the one foaled in 1791 that stood at stud in Charlottesville in 1801 (Wallace’s American Stud-Book, 251–52, 415–16).

Index Entries