Thomas Jefferson Papers

Deposition of William Tompkins in Jefferson v. Rivanna Company, 10 June 1819

Deposition of William Tompkins in Jefferson v. Rivanna Company

The deposition of William Tompkins taken at the same time and place to be read in evidence in the same suit.

This deponent being first sworn saith: That being called upon by the agent &1 Treasurer of the Rivanna company, Nicholas H Lewis [to]2 take the soundings of the river between the plaintiffs dam and the Secretary’s ford, on entering the water backed by the dam, we commenced sounding the depth of the water near the secretary’s ford and down to the dam; we took one hundred & sixteen different soundings at three only of which we had no more than three feet water in depth, the last of which was at the twenty first sounding after which we had never less than three feet six inches nor more than eight feet in depth down to the dam. In crossing the River immediately above the dam we took twelve soundings, at the least of which we had four feet four inches water. The water appeared to be about eight inches below the top of the dam.—From the top of the dam we took seven different perpendiculars to the surface of the water below, the greatest height being three feet ten inches, the least two feet [. . .] Inches, at this last place a log seemed to have been knocked off the dam. The within Diagrahm is a drawg of3 the canal, the valley below the Mill, the locks, & the basin with an explanation & references made by this deponent; which shews that the area of the Valley below the mill that will be covered by water when at its greatest height in the fore bay will be three hundred & seven thousand eight hundred & six Inches, & that the area of the basin above the locks at the same height of water is five hundred & twenty five thousan[d] four hundred & fifty six inches.

Willm Tompkins

The foregoing Depositions were taken, & subscribed before me this 10th day of June 1819. Given under my hand & seal.

 P Minor4
Commissioner for taking depositions in Chancery.

MS (ViU: Rivanna Navigation Company Deposition); in an unidentified hand, signed by Tompkins; attestation in Peter Minor’s hand and signed by him; on a single sheet folded to form four pages, with deposition and attestation on p. 1, enclosure on pp. 2–3, and endorsement on p. 4; first three pages numbered 11 to 13 in an unidentified hand; edges chipped; endorsed in an unidentified hand: “R Company ads Jefferson} Depos sealed 18 June 1819 Wm Tompkins.”

William Tompkins (1765–1834), surveyor, was likely born in Caroline County. He went to sea early in life but lived in Fluvanna County by 1795. Tompkins served as a magistrate there for nearly forty years and worked as a surveyor in the surrounding counties. He owned seven slaves in 1820 and nine in 1830 (WMQ description begins William and Mary Quarterly, 1892–  description ends , 2d ser., 10 [1930]: 26; Fluvanna Co. Deed Book, 3:322–3; Fluvanna Co. Marriage Register [1781–1849], 19; TJ to Lancelot Minor, 26 May 1813, and note; DNA: RG 29, CS, Fluvanna Co., 1820, 1830; Albemarle Co. Deed Book, 27:264; Charlottesville Virginia Advocate, 7 Mar. 1834).

The other depositions taken by the Rivanna Company as the defendant in Jefferson v. Rivanna Company on the 10th day of june 1819 have not been found.

1Preceding two words interlined.

2Omitted word editorially supplied.

3Here “the River” is canceled.

4Following Minor’s signature is a handwritten representation of a wax seal.

Index Entries

  • dams; on Rivanna River search
  • Jefferson v. Rivanna Company; depositions for search
  • Lewis, Nicholas Hunter; and Rivanna Company search
  • locks (canal) search
  • Minor, Peter; and Rivanna Company search
  • Rivanna River; dams on search
  • Rivanna River; locks on search
  • Rivanna River; water level of search
  • Secretary’s Ford (Albemarle Co.); and Rivanna Company search
  • Shadwell mills; and Rivanna Company search
  • Shadwell mills; canal at search
  • Shadwell mills; dam at search
  • Tompkins, William (1765–1834); as surveyor search
  • Tompkins, William (1765–1834); Deposition of inJefferson v. Rivanna Company search
  • Tompkins, William (1765–1834); identified search