Thomas Jefferson Papers

John Brockenbrough to Thomas Jefferson, 10 December 1817

From John Brockenbrough

Richmond 10 Decr 1817


A suit is pending (in the Superior Court of Chancery) in which the City of Richmond, the representatives of the late Col. Richard Adams, & the heirs of Col Byrd are parties, and the common-hall have appointed a Committee, of which I am chairman, to report on the expediency of a compromise that has been proposed by the other claimants.    The subject in dispute is the land commonly called “the Commons, lying along the east side of Shockoe-creek,” and the decision must ultimately depend on the probable western boundary of the City as originally laid out by Col. Byrd. The land is now estimated at half a million of dollars’ value, & of course it is important to collect all the information within our reach. This, I am confident, will be accepted by you as my apology for troubling you with this letter. It has been stated to one of our lawyers that you are in possession of an original deed (the record of which is lost) from Byrd, or some one claiming under him, for “a lot in Richmond near Shockoe creek, which calls for that Creek as one of its boundaries, dividing it from the Commons of Richmond,” or which, in some other way, refers to those Commons.    The land, after having been many years considered & used as Commons, & a part of it even leased out by the City, whilst Col. Adams (the father) was a member of the common hall, has since been taken possession of, enclosed & built on by the Adamss.    Any information that you can communicate will be very thankfully acknowledged by me as well as by the Common-hall.

I am, Sir, with great respect & consideratio[n]

Yo: most obt

John Brockenbrough

RC (DLC); edge trimmed; endorsed by TJ as received 23 Dec. 1817 and so recorded in SJL.

The suit over the ownership of a parcel of land contested by Richard Adams (1760–1817) and his heirs, the beneficiaries of William Byrd (1728–77), and the corporation of the city of Richmond began as early as 1813 and lasted until at least 1833. Eventually the Adams heirs bought out the other two parties (Acts of Assembly description begins Acts of the General Assembly of Virginia (cited by session; title varies over time) description ends [1812–13 sess.], 93–4; [1832–33 sess.], 151–2; Va. Reports description begins Reports of Cases Argued and Adjudged in the Court of Appeals of Virginia, 1798–  (title varies; originally issued in distinct editions of separately numbered volumes with Va. Reports volume numbers retroactively assigned; original volume numbers here given parenthetically) description ends , 23 [2 Randolph]: 255–6).

common hall: the city of Richmond’s Common Council.

Index Entries

  • Adams, Richard (1726–1800); as Richmond Common Council member search
  • Adams, Richard (1760–1817); and Richmond property dispute search
  • Brockenbrough, John; as Richmond Common Council member search
  • Brockenbrough, John; letters from search
  • Byrd, William (1674–1744); and founding of Richmond search
  • Byrd, William (1728–77); and Richmond property dispute search
  • Byrd, William (1728–77); TJ purchases lot from search
  • Richmond, Va.; Common Council of search
  • Richmond, Va.; land disputes in search
  • Richmond, Va.; TJ’s property in search
  • Superior Court of Chancery for the Richmond District search