George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 6 July 1798]

6. Morning Clear—Mer. 70 Wind Northerly. Pleasant & clear all day. Doctors Thornton & Dalson—Mr. Ludwell Lee, Lady & Miss Armistead, & Mr. David Randolph & a Son of Colo. R. Kidder Mead came here to Dinner. The two last proceeded to Alexa. afterwards.

William Thornton (1759–1828), born in the Virgin Islands, raised in England, and educated in medicine in Scotland, came to America in 1787 and became a United States citizen the following year. Among his many talents was architectural design, and in 1789 he won an award for his design for the Library Company of Philadelphia building. In 1793 his design, preferred by both GW and Jefferson, was accepted for the United States Capitol and, although later modified, was the basis for that building. In 1794 GW appointed Thornton a commissioner for the District of Columbia, where he soon settled. From 1802 until his death he was director of the United States patent office. Most of Thornton’s subsequent architectural work, primarily residential, grew out of his associations with GW and his connections, particularly GW’s double town house (1798–99), John Tayloe’s Octagon House (1798–1800), Woodlawn (c.1805) for Lawrence and Eleanor Parke Custis Lewis, and Tudor Place (c.1805–15) for Thomas and Martha Parke Custis Peter. doctors thornton & dalson: Anna Maria Brodeau Thornton records in her diary that on this day her husband Dr. William Thornton and Dr. Dawson went to Mount Vernon. She had identified Dr. Dawson when he came to visit their home at the beginning of February as “of Tortola” in the British Virgin Islands (DLC: William Thornton Papers).

After the death of his first wife, none of whose children survived infancy, Richard Kidder Meade married, in 1780, Mary Grymes Randolph, widow of William Randolph of Chatsworth. Among their eight children were three sons who survived infancy: Richard Kidder Meade (1784–1833), William Meade (1789–1862), later the third bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Virginia, and David Meade (1793–1837).

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