Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Extract of Cornelia J. Randolph to Virginia J. Randolph (Trist), 25 October 1816

Extract of Cornelia J. Randolph to Virginia J. Randolph (Trist)

poplar Forest. Oct. 25. 16

As sister Ellen is writing to mama my Dear Virginia, I will write also by this opportunity, to you, for I suppose you will expect a letter in return for the one you favour’d me with when you were here. we arriv’d here in safety after a journey pleasant enough, for the weather was very fine except being rather cold, mornings & evenings, but we were well wrapt up, having a cloak apiece of grand papa’s besides our own things, the roads were not so good as we expected to find them, owing to a much greater quantity of rain having fallen in Buckingham, & Campbell than in Albemarle. the first day we were out till past seven oclock in the evening. I should have been very well pleas’d at Mr Patterson’s if I had not made a very ridiculous blunder from forgetfulness & inattention. On the road we stopt at Noah Floods to breakfast, & found that to be the best house on the road to stop at meals; & at night we were better accomodated at Hunters than we were any where else.

RC (NcU: NPT); extract consisting of opening of unsigned letter; addressed: “Miss Virginia Randolph.” In the unextracted portion of this letter, Randolph mentions that she has mistakenly left several items at Monticello: a small roll of tape, “a corset lace,” “a slip of homespun to put gores & bone-case to my corset,” some darning cotton, and “a little English dictionary” that she wished to present to John Hemmings; hopes that either her father, Thomas Mann Randolph, “if he comes to Linchburg as he said,” or her brother Thomas Jefferson Randolph will bring these items to her; requests that Virginia Randolph collect and put away five letters from various family members that she left lying around the house; sends her love to the family members left behind at Monticello and Carlton; fears that Priscilla Hemmings was upset that she left without saying goodbye and explains that she “could not go up stairs after grand papa call’d me to go”; and asks her sister to “pray burn this scratch.”

Virginia Jefferson Randolph (Trist) (1801–82), the sixth child of Thomas Mann Randolph and TJ’s daughter Martha Jefferson Randolph, was born and lived at Monticello until the time of the first estate sale in January 1827. Like her sisters Ellen and Cornelia Randolph, Virginia occasionally accompanied her grandfather to his Poplar Forest retreat. An accomplished musician, she sang and played the harpsichord, piano, and guitar. Soon after Nicholas P. Trist met her in 1817, he asked her mother for permission to court her, but Martha persuaded him to wait. They were finally married at Monticello in September 1824, and their daughter Martha, the first of their three children, was born there just two months before TJ’s death. Her husband’s career led to extended residences in Washington, D.C., and Havana, Cuba. In 1839 Virginia Trist and her unmarried sisters Mary and Cornelia took two of the Trist children to be educated in Saint Servan, France, while the elder son Thomas Jefferson Trist attended a school for the deaf in Philadelphia. Leaving France in 1841, Virginia Trist rejoined her husband in Havana. The Trists subsequently lived in Washington, in New York, and in Pennsylvania, where Virginia and her sisters briefly operated a boarding school. The Trists were living in the Alexandria home of their daughter and son-in-law when they died, with Nicholas P. Trist predeceasing his wife in 1874 (Nicholas P. Trist to Martha Jefferson Randolph, 18, 20 Sept. 1818, Martha Jefferson Randolph to Nicholas P. Trist, [ca. 19 Sept. 1818], Cornelia J. Randolph to Virginia J. Randolph Trist, 21 Nov. 1826, Robley Dunglison to Nicholas P. Trist, 3 Jan. 1837 [1838], Virginia J. Randolph Trist to Nicholas P. Trist, 15 Mar., 10 May 1839, 30 Nov., 6 Dec. 1841, Ellen W. Randolph Coolidge to Virginia J. Randolph Trist, 23 July 1855, Martha J. Trist Burke to [Mary J. Randolph], 2 Nov. 1873 [all in NcU: NPT]; Shackelford, Descendants description begins George Green Shackelford, ed., Collected Papers … of the Monticello Association of the Descendants of Thomas Jefferson, 1965–84, 2 vols. description ends , 1:100–13, 231–2, 2:155; Helen Cripe, Thomas Jefferson and Music [1974; rev. ed. 2009], 41, 53–4, 63–7; Richmond Enquirer, 21 Sept. 1824, 3 Nov. 1826; ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, 1999, 24 vols. description ends , 21:832–4; gravestone inscription in Ivy Hill Cemetery, Alexandria).

when you were here: Virginia Randolph and her mother had accompanied TJ to and from Poplar Forest a few weeks earlier (MB description begins James A. Bear Jr. and Lucia C. Stanton, eds., Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767–1826, 1997, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series description ends , 2:1327; note to TJ to William Wirt, 29 Sept. 1816). During their 22–24 Oct. 1816 journey to his Bedford County estate, TJ and his granddaughters Cornelia and Ellen Randolph spent the night at Gibson’s ordinary in Buckingham County and Robert hunters establishment in Campbell County (MB description begins James A. Bear Jr. and Lucia C. Stanton, eds., Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767–1826, 1997, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series description ends , 2:1328).

Index Entries

  • books; dictionaries search
  • Buckingham County, Va.; Flood’s ordinary search
  • Buckingham County, Va.; Gibson’s ordinary search
  • Campbell County, Va.; taverns in search
  • clothing; coats search
  • clothing; corsets search
  • clothing; homespun search
  • coats; capes search
  • Coolidge, Ellen Wayles Randolph (TJ’s granddaughter); and letter writing search
  • Coolidge, Ellen Wayles Randolph (TJ’s granddaughter); visits Poplar Forest search
  • corsets search
  • English language; dictionaries search
  • Flood’s ordinary (Buckingham Co.; proprietor Noah Flood) search
  • Gibson’s ordinary (Buckingham Co.) search
  • Hemmings, John (TJ’s slave; b. ca.1776); English dictionary for search
  • Hemmings, Priscilla (T. M. Randolph’s slave; John Hemmings’s wife) search
  • Hunter, Robert; Campbell Co. innkeeper search
  • Hunter’s ordinary (Campbell Co.; proprietor Robert Hunter) search
  • Patterson, Mr. search
  • Poplar Forest (TJ’s Bedford Co. estate); M. J. Randolph visits search
  • Poplar Forest (TJ’s Bedford Co. estate); TJ visits search
  • Poplar Forest (TJ’s Bedford Co. estate); TJ’s grandchildren visit search
  • Randolph, Cornelia Jefferson (TJ’s granddaughter); and dictionary for J. Hemmings search
  • Randolph, Cornelia Jefferson (TJ’s granddaughter); asks that letters be put away search
  • Randolph, Cornelia Jefferson (TJ’s granddaughter); fears she upset P. Hemmings search
  • Randolph, Cornelia Jefferson (TJ’s granddaughter); letters from, to V. J. R. Trist search
  • Randolph, Cornelia Jefferson (TJ’s granddaughter); visits Poplar Forest search
  • Randolph, Martha Jefferson (Patsy; TJ’s daughter; Thomas Mann Randolph’s wife); correspondence of search
  • Randolph, Martha Jefferson (Patsy; TJ’s daughter; Thomas Mann Randolph’s wife); visits Poplar Forest search
  • roads; in Va. search
  • textiles; homespun search
  • Trist, Virginia Jefferson Randolph (TJ’s granddaughter); asked to put away letters search
  • Trist, Virginia Jefferson Randolph (TJ’s granddaughter); identified search
  • Trist, Virginia Jefferson Randolph (TJ’s granddaughter); letters to, from C. J. Randolph search
  • Trist, Virginia Jefferson Randolph (TJ’s granddaughter); visits Poplar Forest search
  • Virginia; roads in search
  • weather; cold search
  • weather; rain search
  • women; letters from; C. J. Randolph to V. J. R. Trist search
  • women; letters to; V. J. R. Trist from C. J. Randolph search