Thomas Jefferson Papers

Enclosure: Statement by Elizabeth Henderson, 25 December 1813


Statement by Elizabeth Henderson

December 25th 1813

I do not recollect of any conversation ever takeing place between Mr. Peyton James Henderson & myself respecting my daughters property in Verginia I never consented for James1 Henderson to Sell their property, and never knew that it was soald, untill after James Henderson left this country for Washita which was several years after the transaction seems to have taken place. when Craven Peyton was at my house any business transacted between himself and James Henderson was done in another house which they had to themselves. and I did not know that any sale of my daughters property was made by James Henderson to Craven Peyton

Elizabeth Henderson

MS (ViU: TJP); in Thomas Hornsby’s hand, signed by Henderson; endorsed by TJ: “Henderson mrs Elizabeth. Dec. 25. 13.”

Elizabeth Lewis Henderson (1752–1829), a daughter of Charles Lewis, of Buck Island, was a cousin of TJ and also a sister-in-law of his sister Lucy Jefferson Lewis. She married Bennett Henderson in 1771. Eleven of the couple’s twelve children survived infancy, and ten of them were under the age of nineteen when Bennett Henderson died in 1793. When her husband’s Albemarle County estate was divided a few years thereafter, Henderson gave most of her portion to her children, retaining only a small parcel near the family millseat, some houses, lots, and other buildings in Milton, and a third of the profits from the Henderson’s mill and warehouse. She moved to Shelby County, Kentucky, with her five minor children in 1801 (Merrow Egerton Sorley, Lewis of Warner Hall: The History of a Family [1935; repr. 1991], 371–2; Boynton Merrill Jr., Jefferson’s Nephews: A Frontier Tragedy [1976], 59–66; Woods, Albemarle description begins Edgar Woods, Albemarle County in Virginia, 1901, repr. 1991 description ends , 227–8, 388; PTJ description begins Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 1950– , 34 vols. description ends , 28:474n; Haggard, “Henderson Heirs” description begins Robert F. Haggard, “Thomas Jefferson v. The Heirs of Bennett Henderson, 1795–1818: A Case Study in Caveat Emptor,” MACH, 63 (2005): 1–29 description ends ).

Henderson sold her Albemarle County interests to TJ’s proxy, Craven Peyton, between September 1802 and July 1804. Her involvement in the extended litigation growing out of the sale of her children’s property in Albemarle County to TJ through Peyton was extremely important and, from TJ’s perspective, almost entirely detrimental. First, in 1803 Henderson strongly supported her son John Henderson’s contention that she had already granted him the right to run a millrace through the property when she sold it to Peyton in 1802. Then in the above deposition she claimed that she had not been privy to the 1802 sale to Peyton of the Albemarle County possessions of her three youngest daughters—Frances, Lucy, and Nancy. Henderson’s testimony helped extend the life of the case and, in the case of the three minor heirs, raised TJ’s costs substantially (Haggard, “Henderson Heirs” description begins Robert F. Haggard, “Thomas Jefferson v. The Heirs of Bennett Henderson, 1795–1818: A Case Study in Caveat Emptor,” MACH, 63 (2005): 1–29 description ends ; note to Peyton to TJ, 6 Aug. 1809; Craven and Jane Peyton’s Conveyance of the Henderson Lands, [22 Aug. 1809]).

1Manuscript: “Jame.”

Index Entries

  • Henderson, Elizabeth Lewis (Bennett Henderson’s wife); and Jefferson v. Michie search
  • Henderson, Elizabeth Lewis (Bennett Henderson’s wife); and sale of Henderson lands search
  • Henderson, Elizabeth Lewis (Bennett Henderson’s wife); identified search
  • Henderson, Elizabeth Lewis (Bennett Henderson’s wife); Statement by search
  • Henderson, James L.; and Henderson estate search
  • Henderson, John; and rights to millrace search
  • Henderson case; claims by minor heirs search
  • Henderson case; TJ’s role in search
  • Hornsby, Frances Henderson (Bennett Henderson’s daughter; Thomas Walker Hornsby’s wife); and Milton lands search
  • Nelson, Nancy Crawford Henderson (Bennett Henderson’s daughter; Matthew Nelson’s wife); and Milton lands search
  • Peyton, Craven; and Henderson case search
  • women; documents by; E. Henderson search
  • Wood, Lucy Henderson (Bennett Henderson’s daughter; John Wood’s wife); and Milton lands search