Lydia Broadnax to Thomas Jefferson, 2 June 1819

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George Wythe's former servant, Lydia Broadnax, writes in distress in 1819 to Thomas Jefferson, to say that William DuVal (Wythe's executor) has sold her house in Richmond, Virginia, despite provisions in Wythe's will to provide for her after his death.[1]

The result of this letter is unknown, although Broadnax's will (dated 1820) states that she is to buried in the back of her property in Richmond.[2]

Letter text, 2 June 1819

Richmond 2d June 1819.

Dear Sir
It has been some considerable time since I last took the liberty of addressing you and should not now trouble you was it not through necessity—you no doubt recollect that my late master (Judge Wythe) on his death left me a house and lot to support me & gave me money to build a house to reside in.—Mr Duval was left executor and instructed by my Master to see that justice was done me—he has however Without my Consent sold the house and lot which was to have supported me which has left me entirely destitute and dependant on the Charity of others.—I have not the means to prosecute him and know not what Course to pursue old as I am to support myself—Mr Duval it seems is determined not to do any thing in the business.—I have shewn my late masters will to several Lawyers of this place and they inform me he had no authority to sell the house and lot until my death.—Dependant as I have become I hope that you will again assist with something if not for my sake for the sake of my deceased master.—

Be pleased to direct your answer inside to me and outside to Daniel Call Esqr
I am very respectfully your most obed. servt

Liddy Brawnix [sic]

See also


  1. "To Thomas Jefferson from Liddy Broanix, 2 June 1819," Founders Online, National Archives.
  2. Andrew Nunn McKnight, "Lydia Broadnax, Slave, and Free Woman of Color," Southern Studies 5, nos. 1 & 2 (Spring/Summer 1994): 23.

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