Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from William Pryce, 10 October 1803

From William Pryce

Wilmington (Del) Octr. 10th. 1803.

Very Dear Sir,

I have Just Issued proposals for publishing by subscription, the History of our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, with the Lives of the Apostles, and their Successors for 300 years after the Crucifixion, by Ebenezer Thomson D.D. and William Charles Price L.L.D.

Your high Station in Life, and Literary character naturally Pointed you out to me, as most likely to patronise so interesting a work.

The History of great and Good Men, in all ages, has been Justly considered, as highly worthy the attention of Mankind; and surely none so much so, as the divine Character, here set forth, and his first followers, who thro’ much difficulty paved, the way for the Glorious Gospel, to Shine with its’ benign influence on our guilty Globe.

The work is to be printed in a handsome Quarto volume, with a general index, on a fine paper, Embellished, with an elegant copper plate, frontispiece, neatly bound and lettered, and subscribers names added, and delivered at $4-50 per Copy.

Should I be so fortunate as to have permission to add your Name to the list, I am well aware the great advantage I shall derive from the patronage of so Illustrious a Character, and I flatter myself you will never have cause to regret, the promotion of the work proposed; of which I should think it my duty to say more, if I did not believe, the Compilers, and the work, both familiar to you.

I hope Sir, you will pardon this Intrusion; as well as the liberty I take of mentioning myself to be, a Minister of Christ, (tho’ perhaps among the unworthyest who bear the sacred name) in the protestant Episcopal Church in this place; who will not cease to address God’s Throne of Grace, “that the high and mighty Ruler of the Universe may continue to behold and bless you: and so replenish you with the Grace of his holy Spirit, that you may always incline to his will and walk in his ways: that he may crown you with health and happiness here below: and finally after this life, bring you to everlasting Joy and Felicity, thro’ Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Your’s Sincerely

William Pryce

RC (ViW: Tucker-Coleman Collection); at foot of text: “Thomas Jefferson Esqr.”; endorsed by TJ as received 13 Oct. and so recorded in SJL.

William Pryce (1771-1818) was rector of several Episcopal churches in Delaware, including Christ Church in Kent County from 1795 to 1800, Trinity Church in Wilmington from 1800 to 1812, and St. James Church in Newport. About 1817, he returned to Wilmington, where he had been a bookseller and stationer on Market Street, previously reprinting eighteenth-century literary and religious materials. A member of the Delaware Bible Society, he was also vice president of the Union Harmonic Society of Wilmington, president of the Abolition Society of Delaware, and a trustee of Wilmington College, to which he gave $5,000 in lottery winnings in 1811 (J. Thomas Scharf, History of Delaware, 1609-1888, 2 vols. [Philadelphia, 1888], 2:828, 1196; Arthur Lowndes, ed., Archives of the General Convention, 6 vols. [New York, 1912], 3:24; Wilmington Mirror of the Times and General Advertiser, 22 Jan. 1806; The Town and Country Almanac for the Year of Our Lord, 1806 [Wilmington, 1805; Shaw-Shoemaker description begins Ralph R. Shaw and Richard H. Shoemaker, comps., American Bibliography: A Preliminary Checklist for 1801-1819, New York, 1958-63, 22 vols. description ends , No. 9492]; Wilmington Delaware Gazette, 29 Nov. 1809; Wilmington American Watchman; and, Delaware Republican, 10 Nov. 1810; Raleigh, N.C., The Star, 12 Apr. 1811; Salem, Mass., Essex Register, 4 Apr. 1818).

proposals for publishing the work were issued by Pryce and William Black of Wilmington in the fall of 1803. Black, printer of the laws of Delaware and of a Federalist newspaper, the Federal Ark, was not listed on the title page of the work as published in 1805 and printed by Bonsal and Niles (Brigham, American Newspapers description begins Clarence S. Brigham, History and Bibliography of American Newspapers, 1690-1820, Worcester, Mass., 1947, 2 vols. description ends , 1:77; Easton, Md., Herald and Eastern Shore Intelligencer, 8 Nov. 1803; Ebenezer Thompson and William C. Price, The History of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ: With the Lives of the Holy Apostles, 2 vols. [Wilmington, 1805; Shaw-Shoemaker description begins Ralph R. Shaw and Richard H. Shoemaker, comps., American Bibliography: A Preliminary Checklist for 1801-1819, New York, 1958-63, 22 vols. description ends , No. 9473]). Pryce recorded TJ as “President of the United States” at the top of his list of subscribers in the second volume (Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, Washington, D.C., 1952-59, 5 vols. description ends No. 1493).

Described by a London reviewer as “two learned doctors,” authors ebenezer Thompson (thomson) and william charles price had previously collaborated on a translation from the Greek of The Works of Flavius Josephus, published in London in 1777 (London Review of English and Foreign Literature, 5 [1777], 154).

Index Entries