Thomas Jefferson Papers

Elizabeth Trist to Thomas Jefferson, 22 March 1809

From Elizabeth Trist

Farmington 22d March 1809

My Dear Sir

In the number of gratulations on your return to private life I present mine with assurences that no one, is more sincerely gratified at the honorable termination of your Political career than I am, or derives greater happiness from the additional lustre reflected on your character, which has even impressd your enemies with sentiments of respect and admiration

May Heaven spare you long to your family and friends with health to enjoy life and the pleasing reflection of conscious rectitude and the approbation of the friends of your country

I received a letter from Wm Brown dated 29th Jany mentions that he shall send by the next weeks mail $500 for Harriot and my self which for better security he shall take the liberty of enclosing under cover to you as there is no certainty in the Mail particularly at this season I have my anxiety least it never comes to hand. I expected also a small parcel from Philad which I requested to be commited to the care of Jefferson if he did not return soon him Self to solicit the favor of him to forward to you to bring on, have you any recollection of receiving any thing directed to me you must have had little leisure to attend to any thing of the kind and I ought to have adverted to that circumstance when I made the request Please to present me affectionatly to Mrs Randolph I hope to have the pleasure of seeing all my beloved friends at Mounticello as soon as the roads get better I have been Stationary since the 16th of October and tho we have had a most unpleasant Winter I have been very tranquil and comfortable thanks to the kindness and hospitallity of Mr and Mrs Divers

I am Dear Sir with every sentiment of respect and regard your very sincere friend

E. Trist

RC (MHi); endorsed by TJ as received 23 Mar. 1809 but recorded in SJL as received a day later.

Elizabeth House Trist (ca. 1751–1828) was the daughter of Mary Stretch House, the widow of Nicholas Trist, a British army officer, and the grandmother of Nicholas P. Trist, who married TJ’s granddaughter Virginia Jefferson Randolph at Monticello in 1824. Elizabeth Trist is best known for her journal detailing a trip to Natchez, 1783–84. TJ formed an enduring friendship with her when he stayed at her mother’s Philadelphia boardinghouse during service in the Continental Congress, 1782–84. He advised her in recurring financial difficulties, wrote her regularly, persuaded her to move her family to Albemarle County in 1798, and appointed her only child, Hore Browse Trist, port collector for the lower Mississippi River in 1803, upon which she moved with him to New Orleans. Hore Browse Trist died in 1804 and Elizabeth Trist returned to Virginia in 1808, spending some of her remaining years as an itinerant houseguest at a variety of Albemarle County estates, including Monticello, where she died and is buried in an unmarked grave (William L. Andrews, ed., Journeys in New Worlds: Early American Women’s Narratives [1990], 183–7; Jane Flaherty Wells, “Thomas Jefferson’s Neighbors: Hore Browse Trist of ‘Birdwood’ and Dr. William Bache of ‘Franklin,’” MACH description begins Magazine of Albemarle County History, 1940– description ends 47 [1989]: 1–13; Mary Brown Trist Jones to Harriot Brown, 6 Aug. 1809, and Virginia Jefferson Randolph Trist to Nicholas P. Trist, 10 Dec. 1828 [NcU: NPT]).

William brown, the brother of Elizabeth Trist’s daughter-in-law Mary, became port collector after Hore Browse Trist’s death. Mary Brown Trist remarried Philip Livingston Jones. William Brown sold some of his plantation land to Jones to satisfy his own debts, and Brown agreed to provide for his nephews Nicholas P. Trist and Hore Browse Trist Jr. Evidently Brown also assisted Elizabeth Trist and his sister harriot Brown, who accompanied Trist on her travels in Virginia (Madison, Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, John C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, 1962– , 31 vols.: Congress. Ser., 17 vols.; Pres. Ser., 5 vols.; Sec. of State Ser., 6 vols description ends , Pres. Ser., 2:424–6).

Index Entries

  • Brown, Harriot; described search
  • Brown, Harriot; money for search
  • Brown, William; assists E. Trist search
  • Brown, William; described search
  • Divers, George; hosts E. Trist search
  • Divers, Martha Walker (George Divers’s wife); hostess to E. Trist search
  • Jones, Philip Livingston search
  • Randolph, Martha Jefferson (Patsy; TJ’s daughter; Thomas Mann Randolph’s wife); greetings to search
  • Tournillon, Mary Louisa Brown Trist Jones (wife successively of Hore Browse Trist, Philip Livingston Jones, and Etienne St. Julien de Tournillon); mentioned search
  • Trist, Elizabeth House; and W. Brown search
  • Trist, Elizabeth House; identified search
  • Trist, Elizabeth House; letters from search
  • Trist, Hore Browse (1775–1804); death search
  • Trist, Hore Browse (1802–56); provided for by W. Brown search
  • Trist, Nicholas Philip; provided for by W. Brown search