Thomas Jefferson Papers

Petition of Eliza Peacock, 3 January 1805

Petition of Eliza Peacock

To Thomas Jefferson,
President of the United States

the subscriber begs leave to state

That she is wife of Robert W. Peacock, of this City, Attorney at Law:—that her said husband has lately been apprehended, and is at present confined in the goal of this City upon a charge, as she is informed, of Forgery:—that from the information which the subscriber has received she fears that her said husband may have been guilty of some1 erroneous or indiscreet act constituting an offence against the laws of the place; that such being her fears2 the subscriber is desirous of retiring with her said husband from the United States and the territories under their government, immediately; and being advised that the power of discontinuing the prosecution instituted in the case is in your hands, your subscriber therefore presumes to entreat you that in consideration of her innocence & misfortunes, those of her children and of her friends and connexions (some of whom (being the family of the Greens in the State of Virginia) may possibly have the honor of being known to you either personally or by reputation) You will be pleased to direct a nol. pros. to be entered in the case above referred to, upon the express condition that the said Robert W. Peacock leaves the Country as aforesaid within such period as you shall think proper to direct—And your applicant for your exercise of that clemency & mercy to which she trusts with confidence, as in duty bound, shall ever pray.

Washington Jany. 3d. 1805—

Eliza Peacock

RC (DNA: RG 59, GPR); in John P. Van Ness’s hand, signed by Peacock; endorsed by TJ as received 8 Jan. and so recorded in SJL with notation “petn.”

Elizabeth Green Peacock was the daughter of James and Elizabeth Jones Green of Culpeper County, Virginia. Her husband, Washington attorney Robert Ware Peacock, had been indicted for forging and endorsing foreign bills of exchange. Following his conviction on the charge, Eliza would write to the president twice in an unsuccessful effort to secure a pardon for her husband. When clemency was not forthcoming, Robert escaped from jail, and the couple eventually fled to England, where Eliza later died (Raleigh Travers Green, Genealogical and Historical Notes on Culpeper County, Virginia [Culpeper, 1900], 62; William Cranch, Reports of Cases Civil and Criminal in the United States Circuit Court of the District of Columbia, from 1801 to 1841, 6 vols. [Boston, 1852-53], 1:215-18; Madison, Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962- , 41 vols.; Sec. of State Ser., 1986- , 11 vols.; Pres. Ser., 1984- , 10 vols.; Ret. Ser., 2009- , 3 vols. description ends , Sec. of State Ser., 10:439, 440n; Vol. 41:574-5n; Eliza Peacock to TJ, 6 and 9 Mch.).

1Here Van Ness canceled “error or indiscretion.”

2Preceding four words interlined in place of “under those circumstances.”

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