Thomas Jefferson Papers

Wilson Cary Nicholas to Thomas Jefferson, 30 April 1820

From Wilson Cary Nicholas

Warren Apl 30. 1820

My Dear Sir

The enclosed is a copy of a paper which was some time in your hands, which you turned over to the treasury & it was afterwards assigned to me. In an attempt to s[ettle?] with Robinson’s estate they claim a credit for £396.10 said to be paid to Gibson & Jefferson in Novr 1800. G & J. say they received the money & gave you credit for it. I was only disposed to admit a credit for the three sums stated on the back of the assumpsit. Because I believed more had not been paid before it was the property of the U.S. if at all1 & because it wou’d appear from the enclosed extract from the report of the comptroller, upon which the judgement against Mr Randolph was awarded, that he had only credit for the three payments endorsed on the enclosed. You will greatly oblige me if you can give me any information upon this subject, which without some aid I cannot understand

I am Dear Sir most respectfully & sincerely

W. C. Nicholas

[M]y brother P. N. Nicholas holds the assumpsit of Pendleton & Lyons & has an assignment of as much of it as will secure the money loaned me by the estate. I claim int after allowing a reasonable time to convert the certi[f]icates into money & I claim [£]396.10. with interest for [. . .] twenty years that sum said to be paid Gibson & Jefferson who had no right to receive it, at all events it is certain Mr Randolph nor myself have ever had credit for one cent of that sum. according to my calculation I can make [. . .] [. . .] mu[. . .] upwards of [. . .] this [. . .]

RC (DLC: Nicholas Papers); mutilated, torn at creases, and damaged at seal; adjacent to signature: “T. Jefferson Esqr”; postscript on verso. Enclosures not found. Not recorded in SJL and possibly never sent.

The intended enclosures most likely consisted of an assumpsit, not found, issued about 1797 to Edmund Randolph by Edmund Pendleton and Peter Lyons, acting as administrators of the estate of John Robinson, and later turned over to TJ as William Short’s representative. Short received three payments on the assumpsit late in 1798 and early in 1799 through TJ’s representatives Gibson & Jefferson as compensation for salary owed him for diplomatic service in Spain while Randolph was secretary of state. Pendleton and Lyons made a further payment to Gibson & Jefferson in November 1800, but Secretary of the Treasury Oliver Wolcott asked TJ to transfer that sum to Commissioner of Loans John Hopkins, pending the outcome of a prolonged federal lawsuit against Randolph (PTJ description begins Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, James P. McClure, and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 1950– , 43 vols. description ends , 29:574, 30:36, 588, 603, 608, 609, 622, 669, 31:497–9, 574, 32:251, 261, 373–4, 402, 36:343–4, 455–7). The comptroller who prosecuted the case against Randolph was John Steele (PTJ description begins Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, James P. McClure, and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 1950– , 43 vols. description ends , 36:343–4).

As Edmund Randolph’s brother-in-law, Nicholas assumed responsibility for his estate and for repaying the government after a judgment was awarded. Following Nicholas’s death, his brother Philip N. Nicholas raised the above issue with TJ again in 1822 (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; Philip N. Nicholas’s Memorandum to TJ, [ca. 17 June 1822]; TJ’s Memorandum to Philip N. Nicholas, 17 June 1822).

1Preceding three words interlined.

Index Entries

  • Gibson & Jefferson (Richmond firm); and E. Randolph’s estate search
  • Hopkins, John (commissioner of loans); and lawsuit against E. Randolph search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Business & Financial Affairs; as W. Short’s representative search
  • Lyons, Peter; as administrator of J. Robinson’s estate search
  • Nicholas, Philip Norborne; and E. Randolph’s estate search
  • Nicholas, Wilson Cary (1761–1820); and E. Randolph’s estate search
  • Nicholas, Wilson Cary (1761–1820); letters from search
  • Pendleton, Edmund (1721–1803); as administrator of J. Robinson’s estate search
  • Randolph, Edmund; estate of search
  • Robinson, John (1704–66); estate of search
  • Short, William; compensation for diplomatic service search
  • Short, William; TJ represents search
  • Steele, John (1764–1815); as comptroller of Treasury search
  • Wolcott, Oliver (1760–1833); as secretary of the treasury search