Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Robert Crew, 18 July 1803

From Robert Crew

London 18 July 1803


A person here has lately obtained a patent for a Churn on a new construction & Mrs Crew’s Dairymaid speaks highly in praise of one of them which she has used for some months, as saving much time & labour

These being objects which deserve much attention in every Country, but in America are particularly valuable, I am induced to take the liberty of begging your acceptance of one of the Churns, which I now send per the Atalanta Capt. Tucker, for Baltimore, to the care of Mr. Andrew Buchanan of that place.

Should you find this an useful machine, you will, I have no doubt, permit some of your workmen to construct others from the pattern, for the public benefit.—

The iron pins in the bottom are intended to be let into holes in a bench or dresser, in order to keep the Churn steady when in use.

The holes in the top are found, necessary for letting off bad air from the Cream.

I am with the greatest respect Sir Your most Obed Serv

Robt Crew

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 9 Oct. and so recorded in SJL.

Virginia native Robert Crew was a successful tobacco importer and mercantile agent in London as of 1790 (Vol. 18:309n).

lately obtained a patent: while the British patent holder is unknown, American patents for a churning machine had been granted to Isaac Baker on 20 Feb. 1802 and to Joel Pierce on 10 April 1802. Nicholas King received one for a revolving churn on 10 Mch. 1808 (List of Patents description begins A List of Patents Granted by the United States from April 10, 1790, to December 31, 1836, Washington, D.C., 1872 description ends , 26, 27, 63).

A letter of 8 Oct. 1803 from Maryland merchant andrew buchanan to TJ, recorded in SJL as received from Baltimore on the 9th, has not been found. In his financial memorandum for 18 Oct., TJ recorded sending Buchanan, by way of Robert Smith, $3.45 “for freight of a box” that presumably contained the churn (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 , 2:1110).

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