1832: James Clay to John Henry Clay

This letter was written by James Clay (1787-1847), the son of Edward (or Edwin) C. Clay (1744-1820) and Magdalene Trabue (1748-1815) of Person County, North Carolina. Edward C. Clay was an uncle of Senator Henry C. Clay of Kentucky. James Clay married first, Lucy Rogers (1790-1860) in 1810. He married second, Phoebe Johnston (1790-1866) in 1819. There is some dispute as to James Henry’s death date and location. Some family records say North Carolina, others Missouri. As James had a brother-in-law named John Miller who started the town of Millersburg, Missouri, I think it’s likely he died in Missouri in 1847 as some sources record.

James wrote the letter to John Henry Clay (1812-1849), a son by his first wife, Lucy Rogers. Lucy Roger’s brother was Byrd Rogers (b. 1790), referred to an “Uncle Byrd” in this letter. The grandfather, who by his Last Will and Testament gave John H. Clay some property in the form of slaves, was John Rogers III of Person County, N.C. – the father of Lucy and Byrd Rogers.

Family records suggest that John Henry Clay’s mother did not die until 1860. If true, then it seems likely James Clay and his first wife Lucy were divorced prior to his marrying again in 1819. It appears from this letter that Byrd Rogers was considered John Henry Clay’s legal guardian until he reached the age of 21. In this letter, James Clay gives fatherly advice to his son with respect to the hiring out of slaves that were given to John Henry Clay by the terms of his grandfather’s Will.

Stampless Cover

Page 1

Page 2


[Addressed to Mr. John H. Clay, Rockingham Court House, North Carolina]

Milton, Caswell County, N. C.
October 7th 1832

Dear son,

I received your letter and was glad to hear that you was well, and myself and family is well and I was at your uncle Burds about three weeks ago as I return from the North and he and his family was all well.

You state to me respecting your settlement between you and our unkle Byrd you had better come down as soon as you become of age or by the last of this month and see him, and make a settlement with him, wheather he has got the money or not to pay you. You can take his note and wate untill I come home or take your unkle John Richmond’s & William’s that they gave him for the money that they borrowed from him and take your negros in your possession. If you have to hire them out again or let them remain where they are, but you take there notes in your name and then it will be considered as your property. But you can give him a receipt for the money that you received from him or his note and the negros as he, being your guardian, you will have to give him a receipt for what you receive. But don’t give him a receipt to give up your property. If you should die without a lawful heir, your grandfather’s will won’t bind you to give up your property after you become to the age of twenty one years old, wheather you have an heir or not. I should been veary glad that you could have come down before I went to the South. But I will try and come by if I can when I start. I have nothing more to write at present but remain yours untill death.

James Clay


2 responses to “1832: James Clay to John Henry Clay

  • caroline quintarelli

    Can you tell me anything about how you came by this letter? I am a descendant of James and J H Clay.

  • Griff

    This was one of the many letters made available to me by an acquaintance who offered it for sale on e-bay after I transcribed it for him. If you can add any family information related to the letter that might help family members doing research on the Clays, please do so. Also, please let me know if I have stated anything in error regarding the Clays or my transcription of the letter.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

"Though distant lands between us be"

Civil War Letters of Monroe McCollister, Co. B, 6th OVC

"Tell her to keep good heart"

Civil War Letters of Nelson Statler, 211th PA

"May Heaven Protect You"

14th Connecticut drummer boy's war-time correspondence with his mother

Moreau Forrest

Lt. Commander in the US Navy during the Civil War

Diary of the 29th Massachusetts Infantry

Fighting with the Irish Brigade during the Peninsula Campaign

"Till this unholy rebellion is crushed"

Letters of Dory & Morty Longwood, 7th Indiana

"I Go With Good Courage"

The Civil War Letters of Henry Clay Long, 11th Maine Infantry

"This is a dreadful war"

The Civil War Letters of Jacob Bauer, 16th Connecticut, & his wife Emily

Spared & Shared 16

Saving History One Letter at a Time

Lloyd Willis Manning Letters

3rd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery, Co. I

The Yankee Volunteer

A Virtual Archive of Civil War Likenesses collected by Dave Morin

William Henry Jordan

Co. K, 7th Rhode Island Infantry

No Cause to Blush

The Bancroft Collection of Civil War Letters

William A. Bartlett Civil War Letters

Company D, 37th Massachusetts Infantry

The John Hughes Collection

A Virtual Archive of his Letters, 1858-1869

The Civil War Letters of Rufus P. Staniels

Co. H, 13th New Hampshire Volunteers

This is Indeed A Singular War

The Civil War Letters of Henry Scott Murray, 8th New York Light Artillery

The Letters of James A. Durrett

Co. E, 18th Alabama Infantry

Spared & Shared 15

Saving History One Letter at a Time

The Civil War Letters of George Messer

Company F, 107th Illinois Volunteer Infantry

Jeff's Prayers are as Effective as Abe's

The Civil War Letters of George S. Youngs, 126th New York Vols

Soldiering is a Very Uncertain Game

The Civil War Letters of Lemuel Glidden, Co. K, 145th Indiana Infantry

Tough as a Pitch Pine Knot

Letters of John Whitcomb Piper, 4th Massachusetts Heavy Artillery

An Honorable Peace

The Civil War Letters of Frank B. Knause, 6th Michigan Infantry & Heavy Artillery

Looking for a Rebel to Give him a Pop

Letters to & from Sgt. John Henry Ward, 93rd PA Inf

Civil War Letters of William H. H. Kinsey

Co. H, 28th Illinois Infantry

Spared & Shared 14

Saving History One Letter at a Time

The 1863 Diary of Thomas Wilbur Manchester

A Rhode Island Soldier in the American Civil War

The Daniels/Stone Digital Archives

A Collection of Family Civil War Era Letters & Ephemera

Spared & Shared 13

Saving Civil War History One Letter At A Time

Dear Nellie

Civil War Letters of Thomas L. Bailey

Homefront Letters to Mark Rankin

Co. B, 27th Massachusetts Vols.

These Troubling Times...

The Civil War Letters of William H. Walton, Co. B, 3rd New Hampshire

Reluctant Yanks

The Civil War Letters of Joseph F. & B. Franklin Orr, Co. F, 76th Ohio Infantry

Hunting rebels as a dog would a fox....

The Civil War Letters of George W. Scott of Co. I, 46th Massachusetts (Militia)

The Civil War Letters of William Hunt Goff

Company H, 24th Massachusetts

The Charles Wetmore Broadfoot Letters

Aide de Camp to Gen. Theophilus H. Holmes

Spared & Shared 11

Saving History One Letter at a Time

Billy Yank & Johnny Reb Letters

Civil War Letters Transcribed by Griff

To the Front

The Civil War Letters of David Brett, 9th Massachusetts Light Artillery

Dear Jack

Letters received by Dr. John William Crapster O'Neal

For the Union

Civil War Letters of William Freeland, Co. F, 132nd New York Infantry

%d bloggers like this: