Richard Richardson was a bricklayer and later an overseer at Monticello. Thomas Jefferson hired him as a bricklayer in 1796, then sent him to Philadelphia to learn stonecutting and plastering. Richardson later moved to Jamaica where he inherited a sugar plantation, but returned to the U.S. a few years later to work for Jefferson again.

Primary Source References

1797 June 12. (Mary Jefferson Eppes to Jefferson). "I am not able to tell you whether Mr. Richardson is going on well, they to day, began to raise the walls of the hall, the other rooms are done."[1]

1798 January 25. (Jefferson to Thomas Mann Randolph). "Richardson (whom I expect here daily) wrote me word he had hired 3. hands for me, & expected to get some more. they are to work with John. you will of course take Isaac when you please."[2]

1798 February 15. (Jefferson to Thomas Mann Randolph). "I have to acknolege the receipt of yours of Jan. 28. & 30. & Feb. 3. that of the 30th. came by Richardson. mine to you have been of Jan. 11. & 25. & to Martha Feb. 8. ... "[3]

1798 April 18. (Jefferson to John Barnes). "Gave order on Barnes in favr. Richardson for 10.D."[4]

1798 April 19. (Jefferson to Thomas Mann Randolph). "Richardson is here under inoculation: he is now in the fever, and so far doing well. his anxiety to learn the art of plaistering induces him to wish to pass as much of the summer here as possible. he was employed in cutting stone till lately, & will return here in the winter to perfect himself in that business. he wishes to send mr Duke a brick from this place as a model, & proof how much too careless our workmen are in making theirs."[5]

1798 May 1. (Jefferson to John Barnes). "Gave an order on Barnes in favr. Richd. Richardson for 10.D."[6]

1798 May 17. (Jefferson to Martha Jefferson Randolph). "P.S. since writing the above, Richardson has called on me. he has recieved a letter from mr Duke expressing doubts whether he shall be able to go & do mr Randolph’s work. he has therefore determined to leave this place in the first vessel, and you may expect him in 3. or 4. weeks to be with you ready for work, & much improved, from what he has seen & done here."[7]

1798 May 20. (Jefferson to George Jefferson). "[A] workman (Richardson) to whom I owed 11. D. 72 c wishing to recieve it in Richmond I have given him an order on you. I am afraid I am near the bottom of my funds in your hands ...."[8]

1798 November 17. (Jefferson to James Madison). "Mr. Richardson has been detained by several jobs indispensable to the progress of the carpenters, & to the securing what is done against the winter."[9]

1799 January 23. (Jefferson to Martha Jefferson Randolph). "I have heard nothing from mr Richardson about the hiring of labourers & consequently am anxious about my summer operations."[10]

1799 March 26. (George Jefferson to Jefferson). "We received your letter of the 18th. by Mr Richardson, to whom we paid your draft of five hundred dollars—we send you by him 2 Gross of the best Corks which is all that we can procure of that quality and are doubtful if an inferior kind will answer ...."[11]

1799 April 1. (George Jefferson to Jefferson). "I intended to have written you by Mr. Richardson myself ... I have received a bill of lading from Mr. Barnes of 18 Packages shipped for you the 12th. ultimo—yet they have not arrived. The chimney piece is forwarded."[12]

1799 April 18. (Jefferson to George Jefferson). "[T]he corks by mr Richardson are received, & the packages by the little Jim are said to have arrived at Milton last night .... and if my nailrod (which I understand by Richardson is come from Carolina to Richmond) should come in time, I should wish him to have a preference for it ...."[13]

1800 January 18. (Thomas Mann Randolph to Jefferson). "Your affairs go on well at Mont’o. but Powell has not arrived: Richardson has, with seven good laborers at an average a little under 20£."[14]

1800 February 11. (Jefferson to Martha Jefferson Randolph). "I had one also at the same time from mr Richardson giving me the details from Monticello."[15]

1800 February 19. (George Jefferson to Jefferson). "I should before this have sent you Mr. Anthony’s receipt for the 28 bundles of nail-rod that are down, and which I have delivered—but he is from home, and his Clerk refuses to grant a receipt, as he says he has received no instruction upon the subject. ... There are only 40 bundles left on the way which I hope will be shortly down; the balance Mr. Richardson informs me he has sold Mr. Randolph."[16]

1800 March 31. (Jefferson to Richard Richardson). "In your’s of the 21st. you acknolege mine of Feb. 17. since that I wrote to you on the 16th. and 25th. inst: the last was merely to inform you of the departure of a box of plants and 4. casks of plaister of Paris. I would have Fagg’s plank immediately sorted by mr Perry. what is fit for flooring to be kiln-dried directly, that not fit for it to be spread by way of floor in the loft of the dwelling house. mr Perry should proceed with the floors the moment the plank is dry. ... the nail rod is all arrived at Richmond from Monticello. I would not have you delay plaistering the rooms for the plaister of Paris. especially my room which must be ready by the time I get home. tho’ I suppose the plaister will arrive in Richmond certainly in the course of this present week."[17]

1800 ca. April 19. (Thomas Mann Randolph to Jefferson). "Lillie goes on with great spirit and complete quiet at Mont’o.: he is so good tempered that he can get twice as much done without the smallest discontent as some with the hardest driving possible. He will be in time with every thing .... Richardson is lathing your own apartment when he is not dressing and galanting: he made a great parade in preparing tools for the Canal and we fitted him up completely without one moments delay but I can see nothing done worth mentioning."[18]

1800 May 17. (Jonathan Mortan to Meriwether Jones). "You will be good Enough to make some inquiry for a young man of the name of Richard Richardson who was in New York in the year 1798 and had Come to that place on a visit from Philadelphia with Thomas Jefferson to learn the Stone Cutting business and said he was a going to Return with him again to Virginia ..."[19]

1800 December 22. (Richard Richardson to Jefferson). "Mr powel has Been up, he Came some few days after you, left this, to see you Before you left this, But you Being gone he mentioned he was at a loss to know, wheather he was to Come as a maried man or singel, which I told him it was to his own Choice, But that you had Expected him since the death of his wife to come as a single man, which he said he would and went Back to Bord out his Children .... I Carryed Mr lilley to the Shop this morning and told the Boys they was to Be under his direction .... till I see Mr powel or hear wheather he is a Comeing. if he does not I will Return direcly after Christmas, the prospect of geting of hands for labour another year, is not a veary good one I fear they Cant Be had In this part of the County.... the Job mentioned when you left this is not all Compleat, we took down the two Collums, that was to take down, and Raised one and a half of the two that was down, But, I find they was not marked, when taken down, I never Experience so troublesone a Job In my life, and found they must Be put together Before they are put up, to marke them, as they are to stand."[20]

1801 January 8. (Jefferson to Richard Richardson). "I recieved a few days ago your letter of Dec. 22. and on the 5th. inst. I wrote to mr Jefferson, and now inclose you an order on him for 550.16 D say £165–1. to be applied as follows. for Henry Duke for Simon £21-10 [for] Stepney 20-10, [to] Edmd. Goodwin admr. of Dickeson's estate [for] John 16-6 [for] Isaac 16-1, [to] the widow Duke for Mat 20-0, [to] Hendrick's estate for Moses 20-0, [to] yourself for Joe 19-0, do. on account 31-4 [total =] 165-1 = 550.16 D the last sum was intended to have been £30. exact as you desired .... I have not yet heard of Powell’s going up to stay: but have written to mr Eppes to press him off. I am not yet able to give you information as to Journey work here."[21]

1801 February 16. (Richard Richardson to Jefferson). "... But not having of my helth so as to admit of my going from home till now has ocasioned it my not writing to you Before now I was at your place since I wrote you or as I may say since new years day to know why Mr lilley did not Come down as he told me he would. his Reply was he depend on Mr [paiton] for Eight hands In which he disappointed him In they Could have Been got By me if he had of Come froward as I Requested of him to do .... Mr powel has gone froward or not you will Be good Enough to Informe me ...."[22]

1801 February 25. (Jefferson to Richard Richardson). "Your’s of the 16th. has been duly recieved. it has not been in my power to enquire the price of journeymen here, as I have been very closely confined by business, and the buildings are so scattered here, that one does not know where to go for enquiry. I believe there will be a good deal of work done the ensuing season at this place, and am told workmen are more in demand here than at Philadelphia, where the demand is said to be very dull: I suppose therefore they will flock from there to this place. As I am to be fixed in this place, I give up all idea of carrying on any more stone or brick work myself. I have therefore accepted Whately’s proposal to undertake my shop &c himself, out & out, he to do the quarrying, hauling & every thing. of course I have nothing in which I could engage you. Lilly succeeded in getting as many hands as I wanted, and after finishing the clearing for mr Craven, will be employed this summer on the canal—I believe there will be little public work done here this summer: it will be chiefly private."[23]

1801 May 12. (James Traquair to Jefferson). "Yours of the 8th. instant I have just received:—if you should want a stone cutter in July you could not have applied in a better time,—I do not believe there ever was a better sett of Stone Cutters employed by one Man on this side the Atlantic than I have at present;—and by that time the Bank of Pennsa. will be near finished, so that it will be no inconveniency to me to spare you one of the best of them; and by that means R. Richardson may learn as much as I wished him when with me.—I expect you have recieved my last inclosing Mr. Stewarts Agreement."[24]

1801 May 18. (Richard Richardson to Jefferson). "[A] letter addrested to mr Jones of this place I think Conserns me. I think I must be the person to whome the inquirey makes mention of as I no of no one Else by my name who was with you at that time and of no person being at philadelphia with you about that time and after takeing leave of you In Philadelphia I went on to new york and saw this man whome it is said is dead I should be glad to have your advice on this subject it is worthey of my attention Should you think proper to give me your advice on this subject you will be good Enough to send me a Certificate to Certify that I was on with you to Philadelphia and about that time .... Ps you will be good Enough to remit me the balance due me as I shall be in great want."[25]

1801 June 1. (Jefferson to Richard Richardson). "I have duly recieved yours of May 18. and sincerely congratulate you on the legacy which has fallen to you from your relation in Jamaica. it would certainly be prudent for you to go without delay to recieve it. according to your desire I inclose you an order on Gibson and Jefferson for £40. ... I have ordered a passport in the usual form to be made out for you [in the] Secretary of state’s office, which I expect to recieve from the office in time to inclose herein."[26]

1801 June 1. (Jefferson to Richard Richardson). "I Thomas Jefferson do hereby certify that Richard Richardson to whom this paper is delivered is a native citizen of the state of Virginia, was brought up a bricklayer, that he came into my service as such in the year 1796. being then as I supposed about 21. or 22. years of age; and worked for me at my house in Virginia as a bricklayer every season from that to the close of the season of the year 1800. that in the autumn of 1797. he went by my advice to Philadelphia to learn the business of stonecutting and plaistering, and returned from thence again to work for me some time in the summer of 1798. [I have seen an] advertisement in the Virginia paper entitled the Examiner, published by Meriwether Jones at Richmond, notifying the death of a person of the name of Joseph Richardson in Jamaica, & that he had left his estate to the above named Richard Richardson who is therein designated by [such circumstances] as apply with great exactness to him, & to no other person. I further certify that the said Richard Richardson is a person of sobriety, industry, honesty & good demeanor ...."[27]

1801 July 20. (Richard Richardson to Jefferson). "I think I Shall Return this fall let the Consiquence be what it may as I find a disagreeableness .... I will write you when I get setteld as you may know where to address me a line from you at any time will be thankfully Received by your Humble St."[28]

1804 August 5. (Richard Richardson to Jefferson). "I Shall Be glad to hear how far advancd you have got your house and what has Become of James Dinsmore ...."[29]

1804 August 18. (Jefferson to Richard Richardson). "I recieved last night your favor of Aug. 5. and am glad to find you have got safely back, & have been succesful in your expedition to Jamaica. from your long silence we had begun to conclude you were dead. your resolution to sell out in that island is undoubtedly wise, and your choice of the Orleans territory for your destination is equally so. you will find the purchase however of Sugar lands there high. ... if you go before hand and select a spot of sugarlands, a great deal of which is now vacant, & be on the alert to get a grant of it, you may probably get the lands cheap .... the progress in my buildings, after which you enquire also, has been steady. you had finished all the bricklayer’s work before you left it."[30]

1804 August 24. (Richard Richardson to Jefferson). "I Receved yours of August the 15 which gave Me some Information Respecting new orleans ... Respecting your house and Its progress are highly pleasing to Me I wish you had Some of the Mahogganey that lays waisting with us for the Inside of your house."[31]

1809 December 27. (Burgess Griffin to Jefferson). "mr Richerson thinks it will take him 2 weekes yet to finnish the plastering he has never loste one day Since he began thar was not more than halfe lathes suffisiant for the work I think by keeping good fiers thare will not be any danger of the plastering ...."[32]

1812 December 10. (Jefferson to Robert Richardson). "I have occasion for some iron backs for my fire places at this place, of a particular size & form. ... I have to request you to have 7. cast as soon as convenient. ... as my waggon can bring them here [Poplar Forest] as a return load."[33]

See also Richard Richardson in Landscape of Slavery: Mulberry Row at Monticello.


  1. ^ PTJ, 29:428. Transcription available at Founders Online.
  2. ^ PTJ, 30:56. Transcription available at Founders Online.
  3. ^ PTJ, 30:114. Transcription available at Founders Online.
  4. ^ MB, 2:981. Transcription available at Founders Online.
  5. ^ PTJ, 30:282-83. Transcription available at Founders Online.
  6. ^ MB, 2:982. Transcription available at Founders Online.
  7. ^ PTJ, 30:355. Transcription available at Founders Online.
  8. ^ PTJ, 30:357. Transcription available at Founders Online.
  9. ^ PTJ, 30:579-80. Transcription available at Founders Online.
  10. ^ PTJ, 30:638. Transcription available at Founders Online.
  11. ^ PTJ, 31:85. Transcription available at Founders Online.
  12. ^ PTJ, 31:86-87. Transcription available at Founders Online.
  13. ^ PTJ, 31:93. Transcription available at Founders Online.
  14. ^ PTJ, 31:323. Transcription available at Founders Online.
  15. ^ PTJ, 31:365. Transcription available at Founders Online.
  16. ^ PTJ, 31:385. Transcription available at Founders Online.
  17. ^ PTJ, 31:474. Transcription available at Founders Online.
  18. ^ PTJ, 31:522-23. Transcription available at Founders Online.
  19. ^ Coolidge Collection of Thomas Jefferson Manuscripts, Massachusetts Historical Society. See also Richardson to Jefferson, May 18, 1801, in PTJ, 34:137-38, 34:138n. Transcription and editorial note available at Founders Online.
  20. ^ PTJ, 32:341-42. Transcription available at Founders Online.
  21. ^ PTJ, 32:413-14. Transcription available at Founders Online.
  22. ^ PTJ, 32:598. Transcription available at Founders Online.
  23. ^ PTJ, 33:67. Transcription available at Founders Online.
  24. ^ PTJ, 34:104. Transcription available at Founders Online.
  25. ^ PTJ, 34:137-38. Transcription available at Founders Online.
  26. ^ PTJ, 34:230-31. Transcription available at Founders Online.
  27. ^ PTJ, 34:231-32. Transcription available at Founders Online.
  28. ^ PTJ, 34:604. Transcription available at Founders Online.
  29. ^ Coolidge Collection of Thomas Jefferson Manuscripts, Massachusetts Historical Society. Transcription available at Founders Online.
  30. ^ Arthur Loeb Collection, Library Company of Philadelphia. Transcription available at Founders Online.
  31. ^ Coolidge Collection of Thomas Jefferson Manuscripts, Massachusetts Historical Society. Transcription available at Founders Online.
  32. ^ PTJ:RS, 2:96. Transcription available at Founders Online.
  33. ^ PTJ:RS, 5:485. Transcription available at Founders Online.