Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Sir John Sinclair, 8 April 1799

From Sir John Sinclair

15 Parliament street 8 April 99.

Sir John Sinclairs best compliments to Mr. Jefferson,—Requests his acceptance of the plan of a new town, which he is now building, in which he has endeavoured to combine as many advantages as possible more especially those of ornament convenience and health.—Regrets much that he cannot write Mr. Jefferson more fully at present, being on the eve of setting out for Scotland, but he could not think of leaving London without sending him some mark of remembrance.—

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ, but without date of receipt. Not recorded in SJL. Enclosure: “Plan of the New Town of Thurso, in the County of Caithness, North Britain now Building on the Property of Sir John Sinclair of Ulbster, Bart.,” described by Sinclair as a town located on the Thurso River “about to be made Navigable & near a Harbour capable of great improvement” making it suitable for fisheries, foreign commerce, and domestic manufactures and with public walks along the harbor and convenient markets to “tend much to the accommodation of the inhabitants” (engraving in MHi, in TJ’s commonplace book labeled “Law Treaties”; see Vol. 2:504n for a description of the volume and its contents).

Plan of a new town: although funds were not available to carry out many of the improvements envisioned by Sinclair for his site in northern Scotland, Thurso is noted as “one of the few planned towns of Britain” (Rosalind Mitchison, Agricultural Sir John: The Life of Sir John Sinclair of Ulbster, 1754–1835 [London, 1962], 190–1). For Sinclair’s engraving of Thurso, but without his short description at the foot, see same, following p. 186.

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