Thomas Jefferson Papers
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James Lyle to Thomas Jefferson, 24 January 1810

From James Lyle

Manchester Janry 24th 1810

Dear Sir

I was happy to see you so well, when I had the Honor of your last visit at Manchester, I went to Richmond the next day to have waited on you, but found you were engaged in business of importance.

I expected you would have made me a further payment as I had every reason to expect it as I had informed you I was in distress for money. I am sorry you should make me the last. I want the money for my own private use and my not getting it is very distressing to me. I expected on your return from the Government you would1 have cleared scores, as it is excessively disagreeable for me to be troubling you, on this subject. I particularly want, that the debt due for Richard Harvie decd should be paid off, as my getting that money would settle several accounts on my books, that stand open till I receive, pray be good enough to order that bond to be taken up, I am sorry indeed that you should make the payments to me depend on what you can spare from your Crops do pray let your assumpsit for Richd Harvie & Cos debet be paid off without loss of time. I am & have been very unwell for some time past, and can hardly see to write. I am obliged to rule this, that you may be able to read it. I shall expect to hear, favourable from you, and am with the greatest Regard

Your Most humle servt

James Lyle

RC (MHi); on ruled paper; at head of text: “Thomas Jefferson Esquire”; endorsed by TJ as received 5 Feb. 1810 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosed in TJ to Jonathan Shoemaker, 6 Feb. 1810.

James Lyle (1726–1812), a merchant in Manchester (then across the James River from Richmond and subsequently merged with it), had known TJ since late in the 1740s. For many years he was an agent of the Scottish firm of Henderson, McCaul, & Company, the successor to Kippen & Company, an establishment with which TJ had dealt extensively prior to the Revolutionary War. As such, Lyle was responsible for collecting TJ’s debts to the company, which by this time included what began as a 1775 bond for just under £200 originally payable to Charlottesville storekeeper Richard Harvie. Lyle negotiated arrangements for the gradual discharge of these debts, but TJ did not keep up with his payments, and at his death in 1826 he owed the firm $7,095 (Lyle to TJ, 3 Jan. 1811; TJ to Lyle, 27 Jan. 1811; 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 , 1:43, 393, 739, 751; PTJ description begins Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 1950– , 31 vols. description ends , 16:212–3, 28:413–7; James Lyle Letterbook, 1810–11 [ViHi]; Norfolk Gazette, 31 Jan. 1812).

1Manuscript: “woul.”

Index Entries

  • Harvie, Richard; and TJ’s debt to J. Lyle search
  • Henderson, McCaul, & Company (Scottish firm); TJ’s debt to search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Business & Financial Affairs; debt to Henderson, McCaul, & Company search
  • Lyle, James; agent for Henderson, McCaul, & Co. search
  • Lyle, James; identified search
  • Lyle, James; letters from search
  • Manchester, Va.; TJ visits search