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Nicholas Lewis

Nicholas Lewis (1734-1808)[1] was an Albemarle County landowner and friend of Thomas Jefferson. Lewis was also an officer in the American Revolution, a County magistrate, Surveyor, and Sheriff.[2] After the death of Nicholas Meriwether, his grandfather, in 1744, Lewis inherited The Farm, 1,020 acres on both sides of the Rivanna River east of Charlottesville. The estate was the headquarters of British Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton, who occupied Charlottesville for a day in 1781 to pursue Jefferson and the rest of the Virginian legislators.

In 1772, Lewis and Jefferson faced a dispute against John Moore about the Rivanna River crossing of the eastern route of the Three Notched Road. Moore supported the crossing at his ford, while both Jefferson and Lewis supported the road going through Secretary's Ford and through Jefferson's Lego plantation. Both roads were built, but Lewis did not live to see their route as the public road that Jefferson finally secured in 1818.[3]

Jefferson entrusted Lewis and Francis Eppes of Eppington to run his farms while he was in Paris as minister to France. Lewis was also one of the witnesses of the settlement document Jefferson wrote for his daughter Martha Jefferson Randolph when she married Thomas Mann Randolph in 1790.[4]

Lewis married Mary Walker and they had seven children: Nicholas M., Thomas W., Robert Warner, Jane, Mildred, Mary, and Margaret.

Primary Source References[5]

1768 November 9. "Pd. N. Lewis L4."[6]

1769 July 27. "Nich. Lewis thinks 40.f. square of watermelons will supply a family that is not very large."[7]

1769 September 13. "Deliver N. Lewis's 12/6 to Rind."[8]

1770 March 29. "Dispose of Mr. Lewis's negro. Enquire of R.C. Nich. wheth. the money he undertook to see pd. to the Aud. for sher. Alb. by the last of the Gen. ct. next is payd. by any of the und. sher. if nt. get of Prentis the sums payd. by the difft. und. sher. fr. 68. for N. Lewis. Write ans. by W. [Beck?]."[9]

1770 May 13. "Nich. Lewis L20."[10]

1770 August 21-25. "Get copy of order ct. for N. Lewis."[11]

1771 March 28. "Planted 5. grapes from N. Lewis on S.E. edge of garden."[12]

1772 August 13. "Strange sais [sic] I promised to get Murril's works from N. Lewis and return with money to S.O. therefore look to it."[13]

1772 November 12. "Pd. Mr. Lewis L11."[14]

1772 November 12. "John Scott (Alb.) petitions the council for as. Alb. taken up & survd. by John Driver a foreigner who is dead without heir. The lands not patd. Get certif. from N. Lewis. Note there are two surveys."[15]

1772 December 29. "Nicholas Nutt's place.' On Green bryar on the N.W. side a little above the mouth of Locust creek. Survd. by Lewis as before, who sold to Nutt who lived there before the war and was killed. I cannot find whether he left any chdr. If he did they do not live there. 100. as. might be got there good."[16]

1773 September 10. (Mrs. Jefferson's receipts & paimts.). "Pd. Mr. Lewis's Giles for 15 chickens 5/."[17]

1773 September 28. "Mr. Lewis and T. Garth valued the two cows & calf yesterday which I bot. of Rich. Sorrels & the sheriff (by whom they were in exn.) @L14-16-3."[18]

1773 December 3. "Pd. Reuben Lindsay for Nichs. Lewis L30."[19]

1774 March 6. "A flood in the Rivanna 18 I. higher than the one which carried N. Lewis's bridge away & that was the highest ever known except the great fresh in May 1771."[20]

1774 December 8. "Wood v. Lockhart. The pl. & Dr. Walker (agent for def.) agree that if this is already determnd. in favr. of pl. or if in the opn. of N. Lewis & C. Lewis he has any chance to recover Dr. Walker shall pay all costs & the petn. be dismissed. It is to be tried at our Jan. court."[21]

1775. "Committee chosen for Albemarle. N. Lewis 197."[22]

1775 September 3. "Pd. Mr. Lewis's Daniel chicken acct. 11/."[23]

1776 January 13. "Pd. Colo. Lewis's Mat for bringg. goats 1/6."[24]

1776 May 1. "State of the money rec'd. for purchasing powder for the county & for the poor of Boston...Nicholas Lewis Boston money 29-2-21/2..."[25]

1777 April 3. "See my acct. settled with T. Garth this day, matters of acct...Lewis Nicholas."[26]

1777 April 15. "Sold N. Lewis 75 lb stalled beef @4d."[27]

1777 July 30. "Borrowed of Nich. Lewis 21 1/2 lb iron."[28]

1777 September 1. "Paid for Nicholas Lewis for do. L6-5-4."[29]

1777 October 15. "Left with T. Garth for Edward Carter L90 in part L190. to which the 483 acres of land I bought of him were valued by N. Lewis & J. Coles."[30]

1778 March 17. "Put in hands of Mr. N. Lewis the balance of my subscription for salt pans L15."[31]

1778 April 29. "Pd. Mr. N. Lewis for Sam. Taliaferro L20."[32]

1778 June 17. "See in my account settled with T. Garth Feb. 13. matters of account with the following persons...Lewis Nichs."[33]

1778 November 6. "Recd. of Nich. Lewis 30/ balance of our iron acct."[34]

1779 April 17. "In opening the road from a little above the Thoroughfare to Mr. Lewis's mill six hands did about 120. yards a day."[35]

1779 April 22. "Pd. Majr. Lewis for a calf skin for myself 6L."[36]

1799 September 3.' "On settlement of all accts. with T. Garth this the account no allowance was made him for his services as steward for 1778. which we have agreed to have settled by Nichs. Lewis, James Garland, & James Kerr..."[37]

1783 August 16. "The following smith's accts. rendered by R. Gaines & to be charged...Nicholas Lewis 1782. Feb. 1. to Octob. 25 5-11-7..."[38]

1783 October 3. "Pd. Colo. N. Lewis's Cretia 48/ for cure of a sore on Peter's leg which she pretended to be a cancer."[39]

1786 April 19. (Jefferson to Alexander McCaul). "My whole estate is left in the hands of Mr. Lewis of Albemarle and Mr. Eppes of Chesterfeild [sic] to apply it's whole profits to the paiment of my debts."[40]

1790 February 11. "Sent by do. to Mr. Maury L6-5 for his first quarter. Note I had recd. L4-17 of this from my sister Carr being part of L6-5 she had recd. from Colo. N. Lewis for me."[41]

1790 March 7. "Inclosed to Mr. Nichs. Lewis is an order on A. Donald in favr. of Dr. Walker for L36-7-11 with int. from Sep. 10.1787."[42]

1790 November 7. "Recd. of Colo. N. Lewis 34/."[43]

1790 December 16. (Jefferson to Thomas Mann Randolph). "Be so good as to make George prepare a nursery in a proper place and to plant in it the Paccan nuts immediately, and the maple seeds at a proper season. Mr. Lewis must be so good as to have it inclosed as to keep the horses out."[44]

1791 January 16. (Martha Jefferson Randolph to Jefferson). "Aunt Fleming and probably one of her sons being expected here shortly I must accept Mrs. Lewis's kind offer who in returning one of her beds I sent home offered a second if necessary. I have reason to think my self far advanced in her good graces as she has really been friendly."[45]

1791 June 26. (Jefferson to Maria Jefferson Eppes). "In my letter [to y]our siter written to her two or three days ago, I expressed my uneasiness at hearing nothing more of my tobacco and asked some enquiries to be made of Mr. Lewis on the subject. But I received yesterday a letter from Mr. Lewis with full explanations..."[46]

1791 September 12. "Pd. ferrge. at Mr. Lewis's 2/3."[47]

1794 January 28. "Note he produces to me Mr. Lewis's settlement of his acct. to end of 1791. balance then due 17/5 which he paid me and 7d. over Oct. 20."[48]

1794 May 21. "Recd. from N. Lewis senr. 20/21/2 balance on settlement of accts."[49]

1795 April 13. (Jefferson to John Tayler). "A neighbor of mine, Colo. Lewis, the evenest seedsman we know came to try the box, in comparison of his own sowing, and pronounced that the evenness of the work with the box exceeded any thing possible from the human hand."[50]

1795 August 18. (Jefferson to Thomas Mann Randolph). "Colo. N. Lewis lies dangerously and almost desperately ill."[51]

1795 September 1. "Begin to gather fodder. Colo. N. Lewis began a week ago."[52]

1795 December. "Colo. N. Lewis's this year in drills 5f. apart yielded 5. bush. to 140. yds. in the row = 130 bush. per acre. He says a hand will dig 1/3 of an acre per day, say 43 bushels per day."[53]

1797 February 15. "Settled with N. Lewis junr. as follows. boot in exchange of lands settled ante Dec. 21. L16-15-0 6. gallons whiskey furnd. by N. Lewis senr..."[54]

1799 May 8. "Pd. ferrge. at N. Lewis's 1/6 sm. exp. .75."[55]

1799 October 13. "Pd. N. Lewis for Peter Derieux in charity 20.D."[56]

1800 June 5. "Pd. ferrge. Mr. Lewis's 1/."[57]

1805 December 21. "Inclosed to John H. Freeman for Nicholas Lewis 64.09..."[58]

1808 June 13. "Inclosed to Edmund Bacon 260.D. to pay as follows to Colo. Nicholas Lewis 103.89..."[59]

1808 November 24. (Martha Jefferson Randolph to Jefferson). "Old Col. Lewis is confined to his bed and has lost the use of his hands entirely. Mr. Randolph went to see him last Sunday and thinks from his general appearance that he can hold out but very litte longer."[60]

1808 December 15. (Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge to Jefferson). "Col. Lewis died last Thursday night."[61]


  1. This article is based on Douglas Evans, Jefferson's Neighbors, Monticello Research Report, 1995.
  2. See Woods, Albemarle, 252.
  3. See MB, 1:283.
  4. See Family Letters, 49-50.
  5. Please note that this list should not be considered comprehensive.
  6. MB, 1:83.
  7. Betts, Garden Book, 16. Manuscript and transcription at Massachusetts Historical Society.
  8. MB, 1:23.
  9. Ibid, 1:43.
  10. Ibid, 1:204.
  11. Ibid, 1:36.
  12. Betts, Garden Book, 22. Manuscript and transcription at Massachusetts Historical Society.
  13. MB, 1:268.
  14. Ibid, 1:298.
  15. Ibid, 2:277.
  16. Ibid, 1:281.
  17. Ibid, 1:353.
  18. Ibid, 1:346.
  19. Ibid, 1:351.
  20. Ibid, 1:370.
  21. Ibid, 1:365-366.
  22. Lewis was a member of the Albemarle County Committee elected to enforce the embargo of British trade. Ibid, 1:389.
  23. Ibid, 1:405.
  24. Ibid, 1:413.
  25. Ibid, 1:416.
  26. Ibid, 1:443.
  27. Ibid, 1:444.
  28. Ibid, 1:448.
  29. Paid for getting a soldier to sign up. Ibid, 1:450.
  30. This land is part of Montalto. Ibid, 1:452.
  31. Ibid, 1:461.
  32. Ibid, 1:463.
  33. Ibid, 1:466-467.
  34. Ibid, 1:472.
  35. Betts, Garden Book, 87. Manuscript and transcription at the Massachusetts Historical Society.
  36. MB, 1:477.
  37. Ibid, 1:483.
  38. Ibid, 1:533.
  39. Ibid, 1:535.
  40. PTJ, 9:389.
  41. MB, 1:750.
  42. Ibid, 1:753.
  43. Ibid, 1:768.
  44. Betts, Garden Book, 155.
  45. Family Letters, 68.
  46. Ibid, 86-87.
  47. MB, 2:835.
  48. Ibid, 2:912.
  49. Ibid, 2:915.
  50. PTJ, 28:326.
  51. Ibid, 28:438.
  52. Betts, Farm Book, 47. Manuscript and transcription at Massachusetts Historical Society.
  53. Ibid, 87. Manuscript and transcription at Massachusetts Historical Society.
  54. MB, 2:953.
  55. Ibid, 2:1001.
  56. Ibid, 2:1007.
  57. Ibid, 2:1021.
  58. Ibid, 2:1171.
  59. Ibid, 2:1226.
  60. Family Letters, 361.
  61. Ibid, 371.


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