Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to James Lyle, 7 March 1790

To James Lyle

Mar. 7. 1790.

Th: Jefferson’s compliments to Mr. Lyle and incloses him the Observations on his account with R. Harvie and an order on A. Donald for £325. sterling which he supposes makes up his instalment of July next. He hopes Mr. Lyle will take the trouble of writing to Mr. McCaul to know the exact amount and date of his two former paiments.

PrC (MHi). An entry in SJL under 24 Feb. 1790 shows the receipt of a letter from James Lyle, dated at Manchester 13 Feb. 1790, but it has not been found; it very likely dealt with the settlement of accounts that was then impending. Enclosures not found.

As noted above (Vol. 15: 647), TJ settled his accounts with Kippen & Co. and Henderson, McCaul & Co. at Richmond on 4 Mch. 1790 in the amount of £1,402 11s. 2d. plus interest. In addition to the seven bonds noted there as given by TJ to Richard Hanson for £4,444 5s. 8d. as his share of the debt of the estate of John Wayles to Farell & Jones, TJ gave to James Lyle six bonds to Henderson, McCaul & Co. for that debt. The originals of these bonds are in MHi; they are printed forms, with the blanks filled in by TJ and signed by him (the signatures being cancelled), except for the fifth which is filled out by Lyle. Payments were to be in sterling, the amounts of the bonds were double the principal due on each, the rate of interest was 5%, witnesses were George McCredie and William Paterson, and interest was computed from 19 Apr. 1783. The first of these bonds was due 19 July 1790, and the remaining five fell due in succession on the same date from 1791 to 1795. The first bond bears the following endorsement in TJ’s hand, signed by Lyle: “The within bound Thomas Jefferson having since the 1st day of Aug. 1789 made certain paiments to Alexander McCaul for Henderson McCaul & Co. the amount and date of which cannot at this moment be ascertained shall be credited on this bond” below this, 26 Mch. 1790, Lyle credited the payment made to the firm at Glasgow 15 Aug. 1789 in the amount of £300. This was the sum of the two payments, being made up of a draft on Edward Bancroft by TJ for £176 and of another by Grand & Cie. on Teissier for £124 (see TJ to McCaul, 3 Aug. 1789). This, plus the order on Donald for £325 enclosed in the above, resulted in an overpayment of £3 8s. on the first bond and in the crediting of this sum to the second. The principal and interest on the six bonds to maturity, as calculated by TJ in his Account Book, amounted to £2,077 sterling. Thus with the funding of the two principal debts due by him, that to Farell & Jones and that to Henderson, McCaul & Co., TJ left to take up his official duties under an indebtedness in these two items of £6,522 sterling. Ford, description begins Paul Leicester Ford, ed., The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Letterpress Edition, N.Y., 1892–1899, 10 vols. description ends v, 144–6, prints a letter by TJ to Messrs. van Staphorst & Hubbard, from Monticello under date of 28 Feb. 1790, requesting a loan on the security of “upwards of ten thousand acres of valuable land on the navigable parts of James river and two hundred negroes” and stating that after an absence of ten years he had found his estate “much deteriorated and requiring time and advances to bring it back again to the productive state of which it was susceptible.” These facts naturally induce the assumption that this appeal for an advance of one to two thousand dollars was made in 1790; actually, however, the letter was written on 28 Feb. 1796.

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