Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to James Lyons, 29 January 1814

To James Lyons

Monticello Jan. 29, 14.

Dear Sir

Your favor of the 23d is just recieved. about 12. or 13. years ago having had to address your father in a matter respecting the estate of Bathurst Skelton, in answering my letter he took occasion to mention some claim against mr Wayles, as atty for Farrell & Jones: but what it was I do not remember. as the administration1 of mr Wayles’s estate had been entirely committed to mr Eppes for 20. years preceding that, and he was in possession of all the papers of the estate, I forwarded the letter to him, & informed mr Lyons that he alone could act in it. I think mr Eppes afterwards mentioned to me something in opposition to the claim, but what it was I do not recollect with precision. perhaps that mr Wayles’s attorneyship for F. & J. having ceased with his life, and the accounts respecting it having been finally settled & closed in 1790. his executors could no further intermeddle with the affairs of F. & J. and that any application respecting them must be addressed to mr Hanson, their acting attorney.—mr Wayles’s & mr Eppes’s papers however are all in the hands of mr Archibald Thweat, the exr of mr Eppes, & authorised to close his administration of mr Wayles’s affairs. he comes often to Richmond, and to him therefore I must refer you as solely enabled to act in the case which is the subject of your letter.

I avail myself with pleasure of this occasion of recognising our former acquaintance and of assuring you of my continued sentiments of esteem & respect.

Th: Jefferson

PrC (MoSHi: TJC-BC); at foot of text: “Doctr James Lyons”; endorsed by TJ as a letter to John Lyons and so recorded in SJL. Enclosed in TJ to Archibald Thweatt, 29 Jan. 1814.

James Lyons (ca. 1763–1830), physician, was a native of Hanover County and the son of Peter Lyons, a prominent Virginia jurist. The younger Lyons attended the College of William and Mary about 1776 and served under Lafayette at the Battle of Yorktown five years later. He received medical degrees in 1784 from the University of the State of Pennsylvania and the following year from the University of Edinburgh, where his dissertation was on cholera. While continuing his studies in London and Paris, Lyons transmitted correspondence to and from TJ and impressed the elder diplomat as “a sensible worthy young physician.” In 1786 he returned to the county of his birth and established a successful medical practice, which he later moved to Richmond. Lyons also published a number of medical papers. He died at his home in Hanover County (VMHB description begins Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 1893–  description ends 66 [1958]: 88; William and Mary Provisional List description begins A Provisional List of Alumni, Grammar School Students, Members of the Faculty, and Members of the Board of Visitors of the College of William and Mary in Virginia. From 1693 to 1888, 1941 description ends , 26; Wyndham B. Blanton, Medicine in Virginia in the Eighteenth Century [1931], 75, 82, 87; 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 , 8:687, 9:58, 259, 10:107; Lyons account book, 1799–1806 [CSmH: Robert A. Brock Collection]; Richmond Enquirer, 1 Apr. 1806; Philadelphia Medical and Physical Journal 2, pt. 2 [1806]: 30–6, 41–2; Richmond Commercial Compiler, 27 Mar. 1830; Richmond Enquirer, 16, 23 Apr. 1830).

Lyons’s favor of the 23d, not found, is recorded in SJL as received 28 Jan. 1814 from Richmond. For the unsuccessful attempt by Peter Lyons in 1801 to collect his claim against John Wayles for £20 plus interest from 1767, see 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 , 35:726–7, 36:157–8.

1Manuscript: “administation.”

Index Entries

  • Eppes, Francis (TJ’s brother-in-law); as J. Wayles’s executor search
  • Farell & Jones (British firm); J. Wayles’s account with search
  • Gilliam v. Fleming; and settlement of accounts search
  • Hanson, Richard; attorney for Farell & Jones search
  • Lyons, James; and J. Wayles’s estate search
  • Lyons, James; identified search
  • Lyons, James; letters from accounted for search
  • Lyons, James; letters to search
  • Lyons, Peter; and J. Wayles’s estate search
  • Skelton, Bathurst; and Gilliam v. Fleming search
  • Thweatt, Archibald; and J. Wayles’s estate search
  • Wayles, John (TJ’s father-in-law); and Farell & Jones search
  • Wayles, John (TJ’s father-in-law); papers at Eppington search
  • Wayles, John (TJ’s father-in-law); TJ as executor for search