Thomas Jefferson Papers

Deed from Jane Randolph Jefferson for the Conveyance of Slaves, 29 September 1773

Deed from Jane Randolph Jefferson for the Conveyance of Slaves

Whereas Peter Jefferson1 did by his last will and testament bequeath to Jane Jefferson his wife2 one sixth part of all his slaves during her life, with power by deed or will to appoint the same to any of his children as she should think proper, and on his death partition having been made, the several slaves hereafter named with divers others were alloted to the said Jane: and whereas Thomas Jefferson one of the children of the said Peter hath paid and assumed to pay for the said Jane divers large sums of money, which she the said Jane hath no means or prospect of repaying to him, and is also indebted to him other monies on her own proper account; and it is just that the said Jane should make to him the only recompense which it is in her power to make; Now this indenture made on the twenty ninth day of September in the year of our lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy three between the said Jane and the said Thomas witnesseth that the said Jane in pursuance of the said power and authority by the said will of her husband to her given doth by these presents appoint, give and convey unto the said Thomas and his heirs the following negro slaves to wit, Caesar, Val, Simon, Lucinda, Charlotte, Squire, Belinda, and her children not before named, Sall the elder and her children not before named, Sall the younger and her children not before named Minerva, Sarah, Cyrus3 and the future issue of all the said slaves—some of which said slaves are in possession of the said Thomas by virtue of a lease of the same with the Shadwell plantation made to the said Thomas by the said Jane for her life, and others thereof are in the possession of the said Jane.

Provided nevertheless that nothing in this deed contained shall bar or restrain the said Jane from having and demanding during her life the hire for such of the said slaves as are in the said lease conveyed, nor from keeping during her life possession of such others as, being not under lease, are in her possession.

Provided also that it shall be lawful for the said Jane by her last will and testament duly executed in writing to appoint any of the said slaves to any other of her children, such appointee, or any other person paying to the said Thomas within one year after her death4 all sums of money which shall then be due to the said Thomas from the said Jane and all sums for which the said Thomas shall stand engaged for her. In witness whereof the said Jane hath hereto put her hand and seal the day and year above-written.

Jane Jefferson

signed, sealed and delivered in presence of } the words ‘Jane Jefferson his wife’ being first interlined } Thos. Garth
Josh. Huckstep

also the words ‘within one year after her death.’

MS (MHi); in TJ’s hand, signed by Mrs. Jefferson, with seal affixed, and witnessed by Thomas Garth and Joseph Huckstep; endorsed by TJ:

“Jane Jefferson } Deed of
Thos. Jefferson Appointmt.”;

beneath endorsement in an unknown hand: “Recorded & Ed.”; notation on verso by deputy clerk: “Albemarle County […] This Deed was proved by the Oath of Thos. Garth & Joseph Huckstep wits. thereto & Ordered to be recorded-Teste Tucker Woodson D.C.”

Jane Randolph Jefferson (1720–76), TJ’s mother, was born in England, the eldest of the nine surviving children of Isham and Jane Rogers Randolph, but soon moved with her family to Virginia and lived at Dungeness plantation in Goochland County when she married Peter Jefferson in October 1739. With the exception of a period of residence at Tuckahoe plantation from about 1746 to 1752, she lived throughout her marriage and during her widowhood at Shadwell, the Albemarle County estate her husband named for the London parish where she was baptized (Malone, Jefferson, description begins Dumas Malone, Jefferson and his Time, Boston, 1948–81, 6 vols. description ends i, 13–15, 19–21, 26, 216, 429). This conveyance is the only document exchanged between TJ and his mother that is known to the Editors.

The will of TJ’s father Peter Jefferson was dated 13 July 1757 and admitted to probate on 13 Oct. 1757 (Tr in Albemarle County Will Book, Albemarle County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office, Charlottesville). TJ later said that he spent much more settling his mother’s debts than he received from her or her estate (TJ to James Lyle, 7 Oct. 1791).

1TJ here canceled “my late husband.”

2Preceding four words interlined in place of “me.”

3TJ here left blank portions of two lines, which suggests that he filled in the names of the slaves after composing the rest of the document.

4Preceding six words interlined.

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