Thomas Jefferson Papers

Oliver Towles to Thomas Jefferson, 23 October 1821

From Oliver Towles

Lynchburg 23th Octr 1821—

Dr Sir

Permit me to introduce to your acquaintance my Son William Beverley Towles, who Visits you for the Purpose of Paying his respects to you and also for the Purpose of obtaining from you an introduction to some friend of yours in the Vicinity of Boston[.] My Son & Master Harrison who now accompanies him are about to Set out1 for Cambridge University. they being total strangers in that Country your introduction will be of Service to them & lay me under Particular obligations to you.   yr Obt & very Hble servt

O. Towles Jr

RC (MHi); edge trimmed; endorsed by TJ as received the day it was written and so recorded in SJL.

Oliver Towles (1771–1823) was born in Fredericksburg and lived at Middlebrook, his family’s Spotsylvania County estate near that city, for several years following his marriage. He represented Spotsylvania County in the Virginia House of Delegates, 1797–98. Towles then moved with his family to what later became West Virginia, living first in Greenbrier County and then in Union, Monroe County, before settling in Lynchburg in about 1811. He was a major in the War of 1812. Towles purchased property by 1814 in Lynchburg, where he kept a tavern from at least 1815, operated a livery stable, and sat on the Lynchburg Common Council in 1816. Later he moved to Missouri and died there (Margaret Anthony Cabell, Sketches and Recollections of Lynchburg by the Oldest Inhabitant (Mrs. Cabell) 1858 [1858; repr. with additional material by Louise A. Blunt, 1974], 314, suppl., 110–1; Margaret Rives King, A Memento of Ancestors and Ancestral Homes, written for Her Nieces and Nephews [1890], 85, 87–8; Charles W. Dabney, ed., The John Blair Dabney Manuscript, 1795–1868, “Written with his own hand for his children,” A.D. 1850 [1942], 50; VMHB description begins Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 1893–  description ends 9 [1901]: 199; William Armstrong Crozier, ed., Virginia County Records: Spotsylvania County, 1721–1800 [1905], 431–2, 455, 481, 484–6, 499; 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 , 209; S. Allen Chambers Jr., Lynchburg: An Architectural History [1981], 517; MB description begins James A. Bear Jr. and Lucia C. Stanton, eds., Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767–1826, 1997, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series description ends , 2:1335; DNA: RG 29, CS, Lynchburg, 1820, Campbell Co., 1820; Lynchburg Hustings and Corporation Court Will Book, F:358–63; Campbell Co. Will Book, 4:518–9, 7:18–20).

William Beverley Towles (b. ca. 1804), physician, was the son of Oliver Towles. He traveled about 1821 to Harvard University to study, but stayed only briefly and did not obtain a degree. In 1830 Towles was enrolled at the Medical College of Ohio in Cincinnati, having previously studied under his brother-in-law Landon C. Rives, and in 1832 he earned a medical degree from the college. He returned to the Lynchburg area and by 1846 resided at Columbia in Fluvanna County, where he served as an Episcopal vestryman and a trustee of the Columbia Academy. About 1854 Towles moved to Cumberland County, where in 1860 he owned real estate and personal property valued at a total of $22,405, including eighteen slaves. A decade later he lived in the same county in his son’s household, with no real estate of his own and personal property valued at $300 (VMHB description begins Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 1893–  description ends 1 [1894]: 339; 9 [1902]: 435; George Ticknor to TJ, 16 June 1823; Medical College of Ohio, Annual Catalogue and Circular [1830–31 sess.]: 8; Western Journal of the Medical and Physical Sciences 5 [1832]: unpaginated backmatter; Alexander Brown, The Cabells and their Kin, 2d ed., rev. [1939; repr. 1994], 438; Lynchburg Virginian, 11 July 1833; Towles to John H. Cocke, 29 June 1846, 26 Dec. 1847, and Towles to Cary Charles Cocke, 11 Dec. 1853 [all in ViU: JHC]; Acts of Assembly description begins Acts of the General Assembly of Virginia (cited by session; title varies over time) description ends [1846–47 sess.], 161 [22 Mar. 1847]; DNA: RG 29, CS, Fluvanna Co., 1850, Cumberland Co., 1860, 1860 slave schedules, 1870; Cabell, Sketches and Recollections, 315).

cambridge university: Harvard University.

1Manuscript: “out out.”

Index Entries

  • Harrison, Jesse Burton; education of search
  • Harvard University; students at search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of application and recommendation to search
  • patronage; letters of application and recommendation to TJ search
  • schools and colleges; Harvard University search
  • Towles, Oliver; identified search
  • Towles, Oliver; letter from search
  • Towles, Oliver; requests letter of introduction for son search
  • Towles, William Beverley; education of search
  • Towles, William Beverley; identified search
  • Towles, William Beverley; introduced to TJ search