Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Robert Lewis, 10 January 1790

From Robert Lewis

Byrd, 10 Jan. 1790. Is informed TJ intends to sell his tract of land “in Cumberland opposite to Elk Island.” It lies convenient to him and he would like to have the refusal. Asks price and terms.

RC (MHi); addressed: “Mr. Thomas Jefferson Albemarle Favr. Colo. Lewis” endorsed as received 14 Jan. 1790 and so recorded in SJL. At foot of text TJ listed 1,073 acres in four adjoining tracts on “the South side of Elkisland” and 669 acres in three tracts on the “North side Elkisland.” Of the parcels in the former TJ gave the following descriptions: (1) “10. acres. The Little island.” (2) “750 [acres] Skelton’s patent.” Concerning these two TJ added: “purchased by Mr. Wayles of Lunsford Lomax but note a little parcel claimed by C. H. Harrison, very doubtfully, but convey only my right.” (3) “200. acres purchased by Mr. Wayles of Robert Carter.” (4) “113. acres <purchased by Mr. Wayles of Thos Carter>.” The deletion and a bracket enclosing both of the last two items indicates that the description of a purchase by Wayles of Robert Carter applies to both. Of the second group, TJ noted: (1) “307 as. Elkhill bought by Mr. Wayles of Lunsford Lomax.” (2) “312. acres bought by Th: Jefferson of Edward Smith.” (3) “50 acres bought by Th: Jefferson of Reuben Smith.” An asterisk opposite this entry is keyed to the following note: “Judith Smith mother of Reuben was living on the lands, and reserved a right to occupy during her life her house and cleared lands, and to cut wood for fencing and fuel. Qu. if she is dead or removed? If not, her right must be preserved. See the deed.” At the end of the listing TJ noted: “The two last adjoin each other but they are 45 poles distant from the corner of the Elk hill tract. The publick road passes thro the slipe of land belonging to David Ross which separates them, and as each tract has a title to a road leading into the public road, this furnishes a convenient communication between them.”

The rumor that TJ intended to sell Elkhill may have prompted a letter from George Webb, Jr., dated at Rock Castle, 20 Feb. 1790, which is recorded in SJL as received the next day but has not been found (see TJ to Webb, 10 Sep. 1792). See documents under 5 and 13 Oct. 1790.

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