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Henry Foxall

Henry Foxall (1758-1823) was an iron supplier for Thomas Jefferson. Foxall was born in Monmouthshire, England, on May 24, 1758. He learned the iron foundry trade in England and Ireland before coming to Philadelphia in 1797.

Upon arrival in America, Foxall set up or purchased the Eagle Iron Works in partnership with Robert Morris, Jr. This partnership was dissolved in 1800 when Foxall moved to Georgetown and set up the Columbia Foundry, a business he owned until his retirement in 1815. Additionally, Foxall was instrumental in setting up a foundry in Richmond in 1809, for which he was paid $5,000 by the state of Virginia. This foundry was principally set up to make cannons for the government, an operation that Foxall also engaged in, in Georgetown.

Foxall supplied Jefferson with three main items: cast iron window sash, used in the all-weather passage and the Mulberry Row stable, cast iron fireplace backs, and cast iron stoves. Also, Foxall might have made some of the stew-holes in the kitchen. Jefferson did order 24 semi-circular cast iron sash from Foxall on November 12, 1806. Fourteen of these are in the all-weather passage, and an additional two are located in the stable at the end of Mulberry Row. The location of the remaining eight are unknown. Possible locations include other regions of the stable that no longer exist or possibly Poplar Forest, as construction there was going on at the time the sash was ordered. The fireplace inserts Jefferson received from Foxall were possibly ordered in person as no written order exists; however, a payment for these items, and an order for additional side pieces for these inserts do exist. The stoves Foxall made for Jefferson are after a design that Jefferson provided according to the ideas of a Swedish nobleman, the Earl of Buchan. The stoves were very efficient, providing more heat for the wood burned than a conventional fireplace or even a Ben Franklin stove.

For all of the items provided to Jefferson, Foxall received a total of $348.101/2, according to entries in the memorandum books; however, this amount takes into account payment for only one stove purchased by Jefferson. Jefferson apparently wanted more than one stove, although no accounts of further orders exist after he received the first one from Foxall. It is not certain whether any further stoves were ordered, or if information concerning additional stoves has simply been lost.

Foxall also provided cast iron for the Capitol in Washington. Benjamin Latrobe is somewhat critical of Foxall's work in several letters, yet concludes that there is no other person he would have do the work. He does say that Foxall's cannons are much better crafted than his peacetime work.

Foxall returned to England for a short while after retiring in 1815, and married a second time – his first wife had died several years before – and then returned to Georgetown. In 1823, he again visited England, where he died on December 11 at the age of 66.

Primary Source References

1803 April 29. "Gave at Foxall's works 5.D."1

1804 July 9. "Sent by Jos. Daugherty to Mr. Foxall for clock weights 20.24."2

1806 June 28. "Delivered Joseph Daugherty 440.D. to pay the following debts. ... Foxall iron backs & sides 103.86 ...."3

1807 May 21. "Note that May 6. & by checks of that date committed to Jos. Daugherty there was paid as follows to Henry Foxall. castings 150.20 ...."4

1809 February 6. "Henry Foxall castings for myself 150.465 ...."5

1811 April 4. "Inclosed to Henry Foxall for himself 13.40 castings."6

1812 March 15. "The remittance to John Barnes is for the following persons ... Henry Foxall for a stove 55.465 ...."7

1812 March 16. (Jefferson to Foxall). "I have a large dome-room of 24.f. diam. which needs a stove, but a large one."8

- Monticello Research Report, 1/91

Further Sources


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