Martha Jefferson Randolph to Ann C. Morris

I had no idea dear Nancy that the 21 24th of January would have found your last kind letter still unanswered. I left Cambridge on christmas day to spend one week with Ellen, and here I am in the middle of the 4th and no nearer returning than I was when I left it. but next week positively I must make a desperate effort and get back to my little chamber (a very comfortable one I assure you), and my three children who are getting very impatient at my long dist absence. I wrote to Sister R before I left Cambridge, but to my great surprise, for I believe she is noted for punctuality, have received no answer from her yet. though to say the truth I have no right to complain for I had been in her debt upwards of a year. Lucia Hackley: married to a Dr Willis the son of Byrd Willis and is settled I think in Pensacola, and Harriet has a beau also, who is likely to be something more. we have heard that Mr Hackley was in prison in New York. is there any truth in the report? Harriet Senr has a very large school 50 scholars and of course is doing very well. V. Cary’s house you know was burnt down and is not yet rebuilt, in the mean time she is living in the old house at Bremo known by the name of Bremo recess, belonging to John, the Gen’s eldest son. but I suspect her situation to be a very unpleasant one. Mrs C— and her self have had a “falling out” and are barely upon visiting terms it seems there was some religious meeting in Lynchburg to which Mrs C. was going and offered V. C. a seat in her carriage which was most gratefully accepted. unfortunately the Revd Mr Maxwell was of the party Mrs C—’s brother. and V. C—s conversational powers have always made her a favorite with the Gentlemen. whether Mrs Cocke thought her brother in danger or suspected V. of a design to captivate him I cant say but she behaved very coldly nay even rudely to her, complained of the weight upon the carriage, and said so much that V. C. got out and rode on horse back; however that could not last, & as Mrs C. had brought her from home she was obliged to carry her back. I believe. but the common course of such things is to go on increasing, and the consequence to her; that she has lost a friend whom she certainly loved very much at one time, and a very pleasant house the only genteel one in her immediate neighbourhood to visit at. the Genl is no doubt above its permitting him to with hold his advice where he can be useful, to the family but the inter course must be painful on all sides. Miles Cary who had become a confirmed sot died on a visit to his mother in Alabama (I think) leaving his wife pregnant, a very large family, one of them the last horibly deformed, and his fortune totally gone. a more distressed family I suppose can not be found. if he had died 10 years ago his wife had so much energy of character that I have no doubt they she would have retrieved their affairs but poor man I believe he lived till he had spent every thing. You know that Virginia’s daughter Mary is engaged to Orlando Fairfax the second son of Thomas Fairfax, a very rich man, the brother of your old acquaintance Ferdidand. this I believe is all the news of our immediate friends. that poor Jefferson is about to have another addition to his family is merely the usual annual occurrance. with regard to the very serious charge which Mann made of his Father’s and Francis’s being tricked by the Monticello family, that is best answered by a short statement of facts. to begin with his father; Mr R. owed him 10 or 12 thousand dollars. which Jefferson who was called in by the creditors to whom he pledged his honor that the property should be sold within the twelve months. it was sold, and I have always understood that that debt was paid. this however was after the time of Mann’s visit to you with regard to Francis, his grand Father gave his mother a plantation in Albemarle of 800 acres and 40 negroes at her marriage. he afterwards gave her 800 acres in Bedford adjoing which he built a large brick house nearly equal in size and appearance to Monticello. by his will he made the 800 acres there, 1000. it and the house; and this property he recieved clear and unincumbered with debt. Monticello with the mills and an adjoining plantation were to be disposed of by lottery for the payment of the debts, his papers were left to Jefferson, and the remainder of the Bedford estate with out a house and not many the negroes [. . .] all be saved were left to me and my children. the lottery you know failed, of course the personal property all was obliged to be sold, for by law the personal property in such cases must be sold before the land can be touched. a f[. . .] were bought in for me, the land could not be sol[d] without [. . .] of no value, and but for the Carolina and Louisia[na] donations we [. . .] be in miserable circumstances indeed. Jefferson said he wou[ld] put his brothers to school, he has always supplied as far as lay in his power ever[y] deficiency, and continues to do so. and boarding in Cambridge with 3 children leaves but little indeed for those behind. it is a piece of selfishness that nothing short of the very unfortunate state of things then existing, and the uncertain state of my health rendered rendering tranquility absolutely necessary for the preservation of life could have induced me to consent to. James has rented a part of the farm and will no longer be on our hands but 6 children are still unprovided for 4 of who are going to school and a 7th though married is still living with me, she [. . .] carried nothing to her husband and untill he is able to support her will remain with me. My Dear Father never did intend to give Francis alone as much as he gave to me and my 11 children. whilst he thought him self a Rich man he made his will leaving Francis what he has actually received Making Jefferson equal to him at my death; and leaving about half as much to the other boys and a third to the girls, receiving one half when they came of age and the rest at our death. You know enough of the parties concerned dear Sister to know that he was not a character to be wheedled or dictated to in such matters nor I capable of attempting either. I did not intend so long to have trespassed upon your time and patience but have been led lead on by my subject God bless you I am writing with such abominable materials that it makes the task of reading still worse adieu remember me to G. and accept for yourself my affectionate love


Ellen joins me in love and returns you a thousand thanks for the cushion it has made the chair perfect

RC (PPAmP: Smith-Houston-Morris-Ogden Family Papers); mutilated at seal; addressed: “To Mrs Gouverneur Morris Morrissania Haarlem P. O. New York”; stamped; postmarked Boston, 26 Jan.
Ann C. Morris
Date Range
January 24, 1828