Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Taylor, 7 December 1814

To Thomas Taylor

Monticello Dec. 7. 14.


In the Enquirer of Nov. 29. I see an advertisement with your name to it as acting for mr Thos Wilson & offering a place for sale called Westham. whether by this appellation Beverley town is meant to be included, I do not know, but lest it should I think it a duty to give notice that I own 4. or 5. lots in that town, one of which is the ferry lot established by act of assembly, & to which I attach considerable value, notwithstanding it’s present disuse. I had heard that somebody had inclosed the town, but considered the public property in the streets against which no limitation of time could run, as protecting the lots they inclose, and the whole site of the town. as I never saw the advertisement till this morning, & the sale is for the 15th the information which you may be so kind as to give me whether my lots are to be included in this transaction, may come too late for me to notify the bidders either personally or publicly. in that case I would hope you would think it necessary to inform them of it. if the town be not included, I have then to ask your pardon for this intrusion on your time & to pray you to accept the assurance of my great esteem & respect.

Th: Jefferson

PoC (MHi); at foot of text: “Thomas Taylor esq.”; endorsed by TJ.

Thomas Taylor (1767–1832), Richmond commission merchant and auctioneer, partnered with John Satchell until 1805, when he joined with James Brown Jr. to form the firm of Taylor & Brown. He assigned his property to creditors in 1824. Taylor was a friend of John Randolph of Roanoke, one of the securities for Aaron Burr during his 1807 treason trial, a commissioner charged with arranging the repair of the Virginia state capitol in 1812 and, in 1831, an opponent of Andrew Jackson’s reelection. He died in Richmond (Fillmore Norfleet, Saint-Mémin in Virginia: Portraits and Biographies [1942], 212; Richmond Enquirer, 11 Oct. 1805; David Robertson, Reports of the Trials of Colonel Aaron Burr [Philadelphia, 1808], 1:106; Acts of Assembly description begins Acts of the General Assembly of Virginia (cited by session; title varies over time) description ends [1811–12 sess.], 4; Richmond Enquirer, 2 Apr. 1824, 9 Sept. 1831, 23 Mar. 1832; gravestone inscription in Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond).

Taylor’s advertisement, dated 26 Nov., provided for the auction on 15 Dec. or the next seasonable day thereafter of “that valuable farm upon James River, called Westham, which contains 250 Acres,” to be “sold in Lotts of about 50 or 60 acres each, extending from the river out. Each Lott will partake of a due portion of low-grounds and wood-land” (Richmond Enquirer, 26 Nov. 1814). The unbuilt town of beverley was located on the James River some six miles upstream from Richmond (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 , 2:1326n). TJ owned four, not 5. lots there (Betts, Farm Book, description begins Edwin M. Betts, ed., Thomas Jefferson’s Farm Book, 1953 (in two separately paginated sections; unless otherwise specified, references are to the second section) description ends pt. 1, 127; George Jefferson to TJ, 1 Aug. 1811). On 26 Dec. 1792 the Virginia legislature passed an act requiring that a ferry be maintained at “the upper landing in Beverley town” (Acts of Assembly description begins Acts of the General Assembly of Virginia (cited by session; title varies over time) description ends [1792–93 sess.], 87–93, esp. 90).

Index Entries

  • Richmond Enquirer (newspaper); advertises sale of Westham search
  • Taylor, Thomas; and sale of Westham land search
  • Taylor, Thomas; identified search
  • Taylor, Thomas; letters to search
  • Westham, Va.; ferry and landing at search
  • Westham, Va.; proposed sale of search
  • Westham, Va.; TJ’s lots in search
  • Wilson, Thomas; and Westham land search