Indenture for Land Exchange with Nicholas Meriwether Lewis and Mildred Hornsby Lewis
This indenture made on the first1 day of July one thousand seven hundred & ninety nine2 between Nicholas Meriwether Lewis and Mildred his wife3 on the one part & Thomas Jefferson on the other part, all of them of the county of Albemarle, witnesseth that the said Nicholas Meriwether, & Mildred his wife, for the considerations herein after expressed,4 do hereby give grant bargain & sell unto the said Thomas a certain parcel of land lying on the North West side of the Monticello mountain in Albemarle, bounded as follows, to wit, Beginning at a black gum antient-marked fore & aft in the dividing line of the lands of the said Nicholas Meriwether & Thomas which leads S. 20.° W. according to patent, but now S. 13.° W. up the mountain from their corner on the river, (which said black gum is 86. poles & 20. links distant along the said line from the said corner on the river,) & running from the said black gum S. 63.° W. 72½ poles a new line to one pole beyond the Western side of the road from the Secretary’s ford heretofore opened by the said Thomas, (which said road is distinguished by it’s ascending5 generally one foot perpendicular for nine or ten feet horizontal to a certain height & then running horizontally) thence Southwardly parallel with the said road according to it’s windings and keeping at one pole Westward from it’s Western side6 to where it is intersected by the dividing line of the said Nicholas Meriwether & Thomas which comes up the West side of the said mountain in a direction of N. 45.° E. according to patent, but now N. 37. E. thence along the said dividing line N. 37.° E. 99½ poles to the corner,7 thence along the dividing line first mentioned which leads to the Secretary’s ford N. 13. E. 5 41. poles 11. links to the fore and aft black gum at the beginning: which said parcel of land contains twenty seven8 acres and an half, & is part of 1020. acres granted by patent bearing date the 19th. day of July 1735. to Nicholas Meriwether who by last will duly proved & recorded in the county court of Goochland devised the same to Nicholas Lewis father of the said Nicholas Meriwether Lewis in feesimple, who, by deed bearing date the 14th. day of April 1791. and duly proved and recorded in the county court of Albemarle, conveyed 684. acres part thereof & comprehending this parcel of 27½ acres to the said Nicholas Meriwether Lewis in feesimple:9 to have and to hold the said parcel of twenty seven and an half acres,10 with their appurtenances to the said Thomas & his heirs in exchange for one other parcel of land hereinafter described, and in consideration thereof11 and of the sum of sixteen pounds ten shillings paid by the said Thomas to the said Nicholas Meriwether Lewis.
And this said indenture further witnesseth that the said Thomas doth hereby give grant bargain & sell to the said Nicholas Meriwether Lewis that parcel of land lying on the North side of12 the High mountain in the said county of Albemarle bounded as follows, to wit, Beginning in the line of the said Thomas which leads due North down the said mountain, and at the point thereof intersected by the Northeastern side of the13 publick road leading from Milton to Charlottesville, & running on the said line as it divides the lands of the said Thomas & Nicholas Meriwether due North 42. poles 17. links to their corner, thence along another dividing line of the said lands, antient marked, as having been Carter’s patent line, S. 53. E. 102. poles to where the lands of the said Thomas & Nicholas Meriwether corner on the Western side of the old road in the valley between the two mountains (which corner is one pole Westward from the branch & from an antient marked fore & aft gum on the bank thereof) then from the said corner running S. 24½ W. 18. poles a new line to the North Eastern side of the public road beforementioned, thence along the said North Eastern side of the said road, according to it’s windings to the beginning:14 which said parcel of land contains twelve & an half acres, & is part of 9350. acres granted to John Carter decd. by patent bearing date the 28th. day of September 1730., who by his will devised the same to his son Edward in fee-tail, who by virtue thereof, & of the act of general assembly declaring tenants of lands in feetail to hold the same15 in feesimple, becoming siesed thereof in feesimple, sold and conveyed 483. acres part thereof & comprehending the said 12½ acres to the said Thomas in feesimple, by deed bearing date the 17th. day of October 1777. duly proved & recorded in the county court of Albemarle: to have & to hold the said parcel of twelve acres & an half of land with it’s appurtenances to the said Nicholas Meriwether Lewis and his heirs in exchange for the parcel of 27½ acres before herein conveyed16 to the said Thomas and in consideration thereof. In witness whereof the said Nicholas Meriwether Lewis & Mildred his wife17 and the said Thomas have hereto subscribed their names & affixed their seals on the day & year first abovementioned.18
|Signed sealed &||Nicholas M Lewis|
|delivered in presence of||Mildred Lewis|
|Wm. Wirt||Th: Jefferson|
MS (NcD); entirely in TJ’s hand except for blanks for day and month filled by an unknown hand (see note 1 below) and signatures of witnesses and other principals; indented; notation on verso: “At Albemarle July Court 1799 This Indenture was Produced unto Court and acknowledged by Thos. Jefferson & Nicholas M. Lewis & Mildred Lewis Wife to the Said Nicholas M Lewis being first Privaly examined as the law directs and ordered to be Recorded. Teste John Nicholas C.C.” PrC (MHi); entirely in TJ’s hand, with blanks for day and month; unsigned (see note 18). Dft (MHi); entirely in TJ’s hand; written in April 1794 (see note 2); heavily emended; an attached scrap of paper contains questions in TJ’s hand:
“the original patentee
to whom he conveyed
of Meriwether’s will & where recorded
date & quantity of mr Lewis’s deed to N.M.,” and responses by Lewis on verso: “Patanted to Nicholas Meriwether & Conveied by will from him to Nicholas Lewis which will is recorded in the Goochland Office I canot conveniantly get the date 624 acres convi’d to N.M.L. April 14th 1791 N.M.L.” Tr (Albemarle County Deed Book No. 13, Albemarle County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office, Charlottesville); with copy of Nicholas’s attestation (see above) at foot of text.
Nicholas Meriwether Lewis (1767–1818), the son of TJ’s friend Nicholas Lewis, served for a time as surveyor of Albemarle County, during which TJ developed a favorable opinion of his honesty and accuracy. He and his cousin, Mildred Hornsby (1774–1847), a granddaughter of Dr. Thomas Walker, married in 1792. Meeting the bride not long after the wedding, TJ’s daughter Martha, who chafed at the “airs” and the “impertinence” of the Lewis family, called Mildred Hornsby Lewis “a good little woman tho most intolerable weak.” Around 1800 the Lewises, along with Mildred’s widowed father, Joseph Hornsby, and her siblings, moved to Kentucky, a migration that Nicholas Meriwether Lewis and his father-in-law had been planning since at least the beginning of 1796 (John M. McAllister and Lura B. Tandy, Genealogies of the Lewis and Kindred Families [Columbia, Mo., 1906], 34–5; WMQ description begins William and Mary Quarterly, 1892– description ends , 1st ser., 17 , 169; Vol. 23:343, 424, 475, 546–7; Vol. 24:111, 147; Vol. 28:580; Vol. 29:37; TJ to Jared Mansfield, 17 Dec. 1804).
The plot of land that TJ traded in this transaction was a portion of his holdings southwest of Monticello on Carter’s Mountain, called by him Montalto or High Mountain. The inclusion of a cash payment in the indenture to balance the exchange of acreage, which TJ had not included when he drafted the document in 1794, was the result of a valuation of the two plots by Thomas Garth and James Kerr in December 1796 (MB description begins James A. Bear, Jr., and Lucia C. Stanton, eds., Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767–1826, Princeton, 1997, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series description ends , 1:219, 452; 2:950). For Lewis’s lands near TJ’s, see also Vol. 28:472.
Sometime after he had the property surveyed on 31 Aug. 1802 TJ drew a plat of the tract he acquired from Lewis and an adjacent, slightly smaller piece of land (CSmH; see Nichols, Architectural Drawings description begins Frederick Doveton Nichols, Thomas Jefferson’s Architectural Drawings, Compiled and with Commentary and a Check List, Charlottesville, 1978 description ends , No. 517).
SJL records letters from TJ to Lewis of 11 Jan. 1798, 8 Apr., and 30 Sep. 1800, and from Lewis to TJ of 29 Mch. and 30 Sep. 1800, received respectively on 5 Apr. and 30 Sep. 1800, none of which has been found.
1. This word and name of month are in an unknown hand in MS and are lacking in PrC.
2. Dft: “the day of April 1794.”
3. Preceding four words lacking in Dft.
4. Preceding six words interlined in Dft.
5. Word reworked in Dft from “descending.”
6. In Dft TJ first wrote “10. feet horizontal, thence along the said Western side of the sd road,” then interlined “according to it’s windings” after “road,” and finally reworked the passage to read substantially as above.
7. In Dft TJ first wrote the preceding passage as: “of N. 45. E. which Western side of the road coincides nearly with the following magnetic courses,” followed by a sequence of 13 bearing and distances and continuing “to the intersection of the dividing line last before mentioned.”
8. In Dft TJ first wrote “six” and replaced it with “seven,” and subsequently in Dft he replaced “26½” with “27½.”
9. Word lacking in Dft, where TJ first wrote and then canceled “by deed bearing date the 14th. day of April 1791 and recorded in the county court of Albemarle: to have & to hold the sd parcel of lands & it’s appurtenances to the sd Thomas & his heirs in Exchange for one other parcel of land herein after described, and in consideration thereof as also that the sd N. M. Lewis gives grants bargains & sells to the sd T. a right of free passage along the residue of the road before mentioned where the same passes through the lands retained by the sd N.M. to the said Secretary’s ford.”
10. In Dft TJ here canceled “& the [ … ] right of free passage along the sd road.”
11. Remainder of paragraph lacking in Dft.
12. Preceding four words interlined in Dft.
13. Preceding four words interlined in Dft.
14. Originally in Dft TJ continued: “which windings of the sd North Eastern side of the sd road coincide nearly with the following magnetic courses,” then gave eight bearings and distances followed by “to the beginning as afores’d.”
15. In Dft TJ first wrote “tenants in feetail to stand seised.”
16. Preceding three words lacking in Dft, where TJ canceled “& of the sd right of free passage along the sd road before described.”
17. Preceding four words lacking in Dft.
18. PrC ends here.