Thomas Jefferson Papers

Arthur S. Brockenbrough to Alexander Garrett, 18 March 1819

Arthur S. Brockenbrough to Alexander Garrett

Richmond March 18h 1819


A paper was put into my hands a few days since desiring me to make two distinct proposals relative to the proctorship to the University—

1st What salary I should require to superintend the buildings at the University with the advantage (exclusively) of boarding the students so soon as a Hotel could be built for that purpose, the fare at which to be prescribed by the visitors, the Proctor to render at the University? To the above query I must say I consider the duty of the Proctor (as layed down in the act establishing the Central College) is a very arduous undertaking and consequently should expect to be amply compensated for the trouble—I should require a house & fuel to be furnished me and a salary of twelve hundred Dollars pr Ann: with the (exclusive) advantage of boarding the students &c—

2nd Query—What salary would I require with the prevelage of becoming the undertaker of the wood work of the buildings and that of boarding the students as afore said?

With the prevelage of becoming an undertaker of a part of the wood work (the price to be regulated by other work execu[ted] on the ground) I should require five pr cent on the amt of work superintended, except the wood work which I might contract to finish, with the advantage of boarding &c—

The advantage of boarding the students in either case will only compensate for keeping an establishment of that kind—the duties attached to the proctorship would require a salary after the buildings are completed—

If either of my propositions are acceeded to, in accepting the Proctorship I should subject myself to many inconvenience[s] and losses by breaking up here and moving to the University and forego many advantages at present enjoyed—I have employment here in my line for several months and am in the service of the state as superintendent of th[e] Public improvements a $100 pr month—

If my answers are satisfactory you will please address a letter to me as soon as possible that I may make arrangements to be at the University by the 29t to meet the visitors

I am Sir respectfully

Your Obt Sevt

A. S. Brockenbrough

P.S. Since writing the foregoing I have concluded I would go up to the University in order to meet the visitors on the 29t notwithstanding if an opportunity should offer I shall be obliged to you to write me, I shall set out from here on friday next

A. S. Brockenbrough

RC (DLC: TJ Papers, 203:36199–200); edge trimmed; postscript on verso of address leaf; addressed: “Mr Alexander Garret Charlottesville” by “Mr <Philips> Hickey”; endorsed by TJ: “Proctor Brockenbrough A S. to mr Garrett.”

Arthur Spicer Brockenbrough (1780–1832), first proctor of the University of Virginia and brother of TJ correspondent John Brockenbrough and Rockfish Gap commissioner William Brockenbrough, operated a tavern in Tappahannock for a number of years after 1807 and was a captain in the Essex County militia during the War of 1812. Having “been regularly bred to the business of building,” he moved thereafter to Richmond, where he constructed both public and private structures and superintended the repair of the state capitol and improvements to Capitol Square. The University of Virginia Board of Visitors hired Brockenbrough as proctor early in 1819, and he served in that capacity until 1831. He was also postmaster at the University, 1826–32, and the officially designated “Patron to the Students” during the last year of his life. Brockenbrough’s demotion from the proctorship, which one account attributed to his increasing deafness, affected him deeply. As he complained at the time to James Madison, only “my poverty sir prevents my immediately quiting the University with disgust.” The census credited Brockenbrough with twelve slaves in 1820 and sixteen shortly before his death at the University of Virginia (WMQ description begins William and Mary Quarterly, 1892–  description ends , 1st ser., 18 [1909]: 200; Richmond Enquirer, 31 Jan. 1807, 9 Mar. 1810; Butler, Virginia Militia description begins Stuart Lee Butler, A Guide to Virginia Militia Units in the War of 1812, 1988 description ends , 78, 228; Wilson Cary Nicholas to TJ, 28 Feb. 1819; Minutes of University of Virginia Board of Visitors, 29 Mar. 1819; James P. Preston to John H. Cocke, 16 Apr. 1819 [ViU: JHC]; DNA: RG 29, CS, Albemarle Co., 1820, 1830; Axelson, Virginia Postmasters description begins Edith F. Axelson, Virginia Postmasters and Post Offices, 1789–1832, 1991 description ends , 6; Brockenbrough to Madison, 28 July 1831 [DLC: Madison Papers]; Richmond Enquirer, 27 July 1831, 8 May 1832; Albemarle Co. Will Book, 11:28).

According to the 14 Feb. 1816 “Act for establishing a College in the county of Albemarle,” it was the duty of the proctor “to superintend, manage, preserve, and improve all the property of the College … to erect, preserve, and repair the buildings, improvements, and possessions; to provide subsistence and other necessaries, and to direct and control the due and œconomical dispensation of them; to employ and control all agents, servants and others necessary for the works or the services prædial or menial of the institution” (Acts of Assembly description begins Acts of the General Assembly of Virginia (cited by session; title varies over time) description ends [1815–16 sess.], 191–3, quote on p. 193).

Index Entries

  • An Act for establishing a College in the county of Albemarle (1816) search
  • Brockenbrough, Arthur Spicer; as University of Virginia proctor search
  • Brockenbrough, Arthur Spicer; identified search
  • Brockenbrough, Arthur Spicer; letter from, to A. Garrett search
  • Brockenbrough, Arthur Spicer; supervises improvements to Capitol Square search
  • Central College; proctor of search
  • Garrett, Alexander; and A. S. Brockenbrough search
  • Garrett, Alexander; letter to, from A. S. Brockenbrough search
  • Hickey, D. (plasterer); delivers letter search
  • Richmond, Va.; Capitol Square in search
  • Virginia, University of; Board of Visitors; and students’ diet search
  • Virginia, University of; Board of Visitors; selects officers, staff, and workmen search
  • Virginia, University of; Construction and Grounds; carpenters and joiners for search
  • Virginia, University of; Construction and Grounds; hotels search
  • Virginia, University of; Students; room and board search