Thomas Jefferson Papers

Final Settlement of Accounts of Peter Pelham as Keeper of the Public Jail, 24 March 1781

Final Settlement of Accounts of Peter Pelham as Keeper of the Public Jail

Dear Sir

[Richmond, 24 Mch. 1781] Account No. 1 submitted by Pelham in Mch. 1780 for the care and maintenance of 12 prisoners for 653 days at 30 shillings per day from 21 Dec. 1777 to the end of February 1778. The action of Council follows: “In council Mar. 25. 1780. The board allow Mr. Pelham nine pounds of tobacco a day for the above services for each prisoner to be discharged at ten pounds the hundred weight, that having been the market price at the time he received an advance of money to wit in May 1779. Th: Jefferson.” Account No. 2 also submitted by Pelham in Mch. 1780, for the care and maintenance of 307 prisoners and servants from 1 Mch. 1778 to 24 Dec. 1779 (the latter date having been substituted by TJ for “17th of March 1780” in Pelham’s original statement), together with payments for wood; less credits for a draft on the treasury for £500, 19 May 1779, and payments for corn and salt. The action of Council follows: “In Council Mar. 24. 1781. This account not having been settled and paid off at the time expected the board have agreed to revise the same and to allow Mr. Pelham at the rate of one thousand pounds weight of tobacco by the month during the time stated in this account, dischargeable in paper money at the rate fixed by the Grand jury at the court next preceeding the date of the warrant. The Auditors will be pleased to see that out of this the public have credit for any monies advanced and not credited in any other account, valuing such advances in tobacco at the price current at the time of the advance. Th: Jefferson.”

MS in Contingent Fund Vouchers (Vi); 4 p. Pelham’s statements are both countersigned: “Williamsburg April 8, 1780. Sworn before J. Dixon.”; the action of Council on each account is written on the recto of the document in TJ’s hand. Pelham’s statement “No. 1” is endorsed and has miscellaneous calculations, in an unidentified hand, on the verso of the sheet. Statement “No. 2.” has the following action of Council, in TJ’s hand, crossed out (evidently when TJ substituted the final orders of 24 Mch. 1781, printed above: “[In] Council Mar. 25. 1780. The board is of opinion that Mr. Pelham being to receive at this time money for the within services should have twenty shillings a day for each prisoner. The Auditors being to give the warrant, and being […] of the account of advances which we are not, we beg the favor of them to settle this account. Th: Jefferson.” There is also on verso of No. 2 a statement of the general court, which had “the Super-intendence of the public Gaol from the 25 Decemr. 1779” until 17 Mch. 1780 when the bill was submitted to the Council, deducting an allowance for that period from the original bill.

There is no reference in the Council Journals in Mch. 1780 or Mch. 1781 to Pelham’s accounts. The delay in payment was due, in part at least, to the fact that the public jail was placed under the supervision of the general court on 25 Dec. 1779. There are two other documents filed with Pelham’s statements: (1) an extract from the proceedings of the general court for 23 Mch. 1781, signed by Adam Craig, a clerk of the court, ordering that Pelham be allowed £1,500 “for two months Service to be computed from the twenty fourth Day of December” 1779 to 24 Feb. 1780; and (2) a revised account, probably prepared in the auditors’ office, including an adjustment of the items mentioned in Pelham’s two original statements. The latter document is endorsed: “March 30. 1781 Peter Pelham £22820.5/ Publick Jail,” indicating, no doubt, the date and amount of the final payment.

Index Entries