Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Newton, 17 October 1799

To Thomas Newton

Monticello Oct. 17. 99.

Dear Sir

Mr. William Short (now in Europe) owns 1000. as. of land in St. Bride’s parish1 Norfolk county called Green sea land adjoining to Patrick Henry & co. at their S.W. corner2 by patent dated Dec. 10. 1784. his affairs are under my care, and it is but lately that this possession has come to my knowlege. I am apprehensive no taxes have been paid for it, & indeed that it had never been placed on the Commissioners books. perhaps it may be in danger. having no correspondent in Norfolk, I take the liberty of addressing myself to you, & solliciting you to enquire for me into this matter. if the lands be not given in to the Commissioners, have the goodness to give them in. if they have been already assessed, I will pray you to inform yourself what arrears are due, & to drop me a line, and I will immediately have the money remitted. the lands being once placed in a safe state, I will take care to provide regular means of keeping them so, without troubling you further with them than for the 1st. information.3—we are distressed in the upper country extremely by the want of market & consequently of […] for our tobo. the repeal of the suspension law as to St. Domingo has only relie[ved] the grain states from it’s fatal effects. we had quitted that culture for tobacco, […] the law still continues. I am with constant esteem Dear Sir

Your friend & servt

Th: Jefferson

FC (ViW); entirely in TJ’s hand, including interlineations noted below; omits concluding portion of letter (see note 3 below); at head of text: “Decypherment of the press copy letter”; at foot of text: “In my pocket memorandum book, under date of 1799. Nov. 21. I find the following entry verbatim ‘debit W. Short 33/9 5. D. pd by G. Jefferson to the Auditor for taxes of his Green sea lands for 93. 94. 95. 97.,’” the “33/9” being interlined (see 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 , 2:1008). PrC (ViW); mutilated and faint, with much of the first half of the letter lost; at foot of text: “Colo. Thomas Newton”; endorsed by TJ in ink on verso.

Prior to the death of Newton’s father, also named Thomas, in 1794, Newton signed himself as Thomas Newton, Jr. Among other offices, including several terms in the House of Burgesses and command of the county militia, he had been the recorder of Norfolk in 1798 and mayor of the city four times between 1780 and 1794 (VMHB description begins Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 1893– description ends , 30 [1922], 86–7; Vol. 4:136, 421; Vol. 23:481).

For Short’s land in the portion of the Dismal Swamp known as the green sea, adjacent to a tract that Patrick Henry held at the time the patent to Short’s holding was issued, see Vol. 30:352n, 459n.

Letters from TJ to Newton of 14 July 1794, 28 Feb. 1796, and 4 Sep. 1798, and letters from Newton of 30 July 1794, 6 Mch. 1796, 20 Sep. 1798, and 16 Feb. 1799, noted as received on 5 Aug. 1794, 12 Mch. 1796, 27 Sep. 1798, and 23 Feb. 1799, respectively, are recorded in SJL but have not been found.

1Preceding three words interlined.

2Preceding three words and abbreviation interlined.

3PrC: “first information.” FC ends here with a single closing quotation mark; remainder of text from PrC.

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