Thomas Jefferson Papers

Charles Yancey (1770–1857) to Thomas Jefferson, 12 July 1821

From Charles Yancey (1770–1857)

Buckingham July 12th 1821—

My dear Sir,

The Court of this County have ordered the building of a new Court house, and appointed myself & others to draft a plan of the house and let the building of it; I am fully impressed with the importance of a good plan, & Very Sensible of my incompetency to draft one; and believing that you have devoted much of your Valuable time & reflection to Subjects of Architecture, I have taken the liberty to trespass upon your time & talents (a Common Stock) which we all seem to have a right to draw upon, growing out of a long & useful life devoted both to publick & private good; to draft for us a plan of our Court house; as much in detail as will Comport with your Convenience which will be thankfully recived and I have no doubt will be adopted by all the Commissioners, and myself & many other of your freinds be afforded the opportunity of Saying we have built upon a plan presented by Mr Jefferson—It will be propper that I possess you of Some of our Veiws upon this Subject—the Size of the house we talk of from 48 to 52 feet Sqr the Walls of brick, two brick thick to the Water table & 1½ above, Covered with Slate, altitude of the walls 20 feet—a second floor in front of the Justices bench extending so far as will afford room on that floor for three Jury rooms, from the termination of Which to have a gallery on each sid[e] wall extending on to about the lawyers bar—some think the Jury rooms ought to be under the Justices bench, (to which I see an objection) the facility of Communication through the Windows with persons from without—some think the wall entire ought to be two brick thick, and that the foundation ought to be of Rock, some want the lower floor of plank others of 9 inch tile—I believe a majority are in favor of a Piazzar of 10 or 12 feet supported by Colums arched between—our population is about 20,000 souls & the immediate neighborhood around the Court house unusually populous & in the habit of attending Court which makes it necessary to have a Spacious Court house—please to direct to me Warminster P. office, and of as early date as may suit your Convenience—

with Sentiments of high regard yr mo obt

Charles Yancey

RC (DLC); chipped at fold; with unrelated calculations by TJ on address cover; addressed: “The honorable Thomas Jefferson Monticello”; franked; endorsed by TJ as received 16 July 1821 and so recorded in SJL.

Charles Yancey (1770–1857), planter and public official, was born in Louisa County and later moved to Buckingham County. He represented the latter county in the Virginia House of Delegates, 1796–1801, 1810–13, and 1816–38, and he sat for Buckingham, Albemarle, Amherst, and Fluvanna counties in the Senate of Virginia, 1801–05. During his lifetime Yancey was known as “the wheel-horse of Democracy.” He was an active Freemason and in 1850 owned real estate valued at $55,000 and ninety-eight slaves (Alexander Brown, The Cabells and their Kin, 2d ed., rev. [1939; repr. 1994], 327–8; ViU: Yancey Papers; Leonard, General Assembly description begins Cynthia Miller Leonard, comp., The General Assembly of Virginia, July 30, 1619–January 11, 1978: A Bicentennial Register of Members, 1978 description ends ; Marshall, Papers description begins Herbert A. Johnson, Charles T. Cullen, Charles F. Hobson, and others, eds., The Papers of John Marshall, 1974–2006, 12 vols. description ends , 2:156–7; DNA: RG 29, CS, Buckingham Co., 1850, 1850 slave schedules; Charleston [S.C.] Mercury, 24 Apr. 1857).

Index Entries

  • architecture; TJ advises C. Yancey search
  • Buckingham County, Va.; new courthouse in search
  • building materials; bricks search
  • building materials; plank search
  • building materials; slate search
  • building materials; stone search
  • building materials; tile search
  • Yancey, Charles (1770–1857); and Buckingham Co. courthouse search
  • Yancey, Charles (1770–1857); identified search
  • Yancey, Charles (1770–1857); letters from search