Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from William Norvell, 3 October 1802

From William Norvell

Post office Lynchbg. Oct. 3d: 1802


Mr Griffen your Manager in Bedford applied here a few days since for a letter & was told by my assistant there was none. but on Saturday last he got the letter. My assistant says it came by the Richmond Mail he suspects, but is not sure. As I have some reason to believe the mistake happend here, it is proper that I should acknowledge it, in order that no blame may attach to Mr Griffen

I have uniformly paid great attention to the duties of the office, and did not entertain any idea of any neglect in my assistant, and I have made use of such chastisement as I am sure will prevent a similar occurance.

As I believe this is the first breach in this office of any kind, I hope I am first in giving the information to you, whose letter was neglected

I have the Honor to be Yr Humb servt

Wll Norvell

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “Thomas Jefferson Esquire President of U States”; endorsed by TJ as received from “Meenowell” on 8 Oct. and so recorded in SJL.

William Norvell (1770–1823) served as postmaster for Lynchburg from 1798 to 1805. A leader within Lynchburg’s business circles, he became president of the town’s branch of the Bank of Virginia. He also was placed in charge of distributing arms to militias in Lynchburg and the surrounding area. In 1812, he acted as trustee for a mortgage between TJ and another Lynchburg merchant. An obituary described Norvell as “not showy but solid—not one who professed, but who practiced virtue” (Richmond Enquirer, 4 Nov. 1823; Stets, Postmasters description begins Robert J. Stets, Postmasters & Postoffices of the United States 1782–1811, Lake Oswego, Ore., 1994 description ends , 263; CVSP description begins William P. Palmer and others, eds., Calendar of Virginia State Papers . . . Preserved in the Capitol at Richmond, Richmond, 1875–93, 11 vols. description ends , 9:219, 459, 503; RS description begins J. Jefferson Looney and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson: Retirement Series, Princeton, 2004–, 7 vols. description ends , 5:61–2).

While at Monticello, TJ wrote four letters to his Poplar Forest MANAGER Burgess Griffin, recorded in SJL at 6 Aug., 5 Sep. (two letters), and 16 Sep. None has been found.

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