Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to David Higginbotham, 12 September 1811

To David Higginbotham

Monticello Sep. 12. 11


The lot in Richmond which is the subject of your enquiry, mr Jefferson was some time ago authorised to sell whenever he could get what I gave for it, and a fair interest on it, that is to say, adding interest to principal at every doubling of the latter at 6. percent. I gave Colo Byrd for the lot £25. Jan. 8. 1774. in that period there would be two consolidations of interest with the principal, so that on the 8th of this month it would amount to £132.1 it is lot No 335. open on one side to the road or street, on another to the beach or common shore of the river, on a third bounded by No 334. formerly the property of Patrick Coutts, & on the fourth side by the remaining part of 335. formerly the property of R. C. Nicholas, & afterwards of mr Ambler. it contains 825. square yards, which brings the price to not quite2 6. cents a square foot, at this time, but increasing with the interest.  I have also 4. or 5 lots at Beverley town, Westham, on one of which is the ferry landing. they cost £4–6 a piece about 60. years ago. the ferry is probably now of value, but must become so with the increase of the country, as there cannot be another nearer than Richmond. as land, they would sell probably at £25. the acre, at which price I would sell them. the paiments would be a present credit in my account with you. I wish it may suit you to take the whole. accept my respects

Th: Jefferson

RC (ViU: TJP); addressed: “Mr David Higginbotham Milton”; endorsed by Higginbotham.

David Higginbotham (1775–1853) first became acquainted with TJ while working as a factor for Robert Rives & Company late in the 1790s. Later he became a prosperous merchant in the town of Milton and a man to whom TJ was perpetually indebted. TJ considered him to be “of very fair character, steady application to business, sound in his circumstances, and perfectly correct in all his conduct,” but also “uninformed & unlettered, & so much so as to be entirely insensible of it himself.” In 1813 Higginbotham purchased through TJ’s agency William Short’s Indian Camp plantation a few miles south of Monticello. He changed its name to Morven and built a fine Federal-style brick house there in 1821. At his death Higginbotham left a personal estate worth more than $100,000, including fifty-six slaves (David Higginbotham Papers, ViHi; William Montgomery Sweeny, “Higginbotham Family of Virginia,” WMQ description begins William and Mary Quarterly, 1892– description ends , 1st ser., 27 [1918]: 124; Woods, Albemarle description begins Edgar Woods, Albemarle County in Virginia, 1901 description ends , 58, 222; PTJ description begins Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 1950– , 31 vols. description ends , 30:27, 29n; MB description begins James A. Bear Jr. and Lucia C. Stanton, eds., Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767–1826, 1997, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series description ends , esp. 2:988; George Green Shackelford, “William Short and Albemarle,” MACH description begins Magazine of Albemarle County History, 1940– (title varies: issued until 1951 as Papers of the Albemarle County Historical Society) description ends 15 [1955/56]: 21; Lay, Architecture description begins K. Edward Lay, The Architecture of Jefferson Country: Charlottesville and Albemarle County, Virginia, 2000 description ends , 133–4; Malone, Jefferson description begins Dumas Malone, Jefferson and his Time, 1948–81, 6 vols. description ends , 6:82–3; TJ to James Madison, 10 Aug. 1812 [two letters]; Albemarle Co. Will Book, 22:135–6, 209–14; Richmond Enquirer, 25 Jan. 1853).

Higginbotham probably made his enquiry in a missing letter to TJ of 10 Sept. 1811, recorded in SJL as received from Milton the following day. SJL also records a letter from Higginbotham to TJ of 26 Sept. 1811, received on that date from Milton, and a letter of 5 Oct. 1811 from TJ to Higginbotham, neither of which has been found.

1Sum interlined in place of “D209.”

2Preceding two words interlined in place of “about.”

Index Entries

  • Ambler, John; and TJ’s Richmond lot search
  • Beverly (Henrico Co.); TJ’s lots in search
  • Byrd, William (1728–77); TJ purchases lot from search
  • Coutts, Patrick; and TJ’s Richmond lot search
  • Gibson & Jefferson (Richmond firm); and TJ’s real estate search
  • Higginbotham, David; identified search
  • Higginbotham, David; letters from accounted for search
  • Higginbotham, David; letters to search
  • Higginbotham, David; letters to accounted for search
  • Higginbotham, David; purchases Richmond lot from TJ search
  • Jefferson, George (TJ’s cousin); and TJ’s Richmond lot search
  • Jefferson, George (TJ’s cousin); and TJ’s Westham land search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Business & Financial Affairs; sells Richmond lot search
  • Nicholas, Robert Carter (1729–80); and TJ’s Richmond lot search
  • Richmond, Va.; TJ’s lot in search
  • Westham, Va.; TJ’s lots in search