by Constance Hall Jones
Thomas Norcliffe Jones’s United States Citizenship petition and naturalization papers
Transcript of Naturalization Petition.
At a circuit Superior Court of Law and Chancery for the County of Henrico and City of Richmond, held at the Capitol in said city the 1st day of June, one thousand eight-hundred and forty.
Thomas N. Jones, Stone Mason, a native of Wales, this day declared an oath that it is bonafide his intention to become a citizen of the United States, and to renounce forever all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign Prince, Potentate, State or sovereignty whatever & particularly to Victoria Queen of Great Britain and Ireland.
- Robinson C.C. [Clerk of Court]”
Notes on this document:
Regarding Thomas’s stated occupation, in the 19th century, just as in the 21st, the issue of unchecked immigration was a hot political issue. In that era, just as it is today, it behooved an immigrant intent on remaining in this country to make himself appear as beneficial to his adopted home (and those already established in it) as possible. It is unlikely the old guard of Richmond’s merchant class would have been enamored with a well-financed upstart commission merchant boasting established relationships with shipping and export businesses from London and Liverpool, Madeira, Barbados to Nova Scotia. They would have viewed such an entrepreneur as unwanted competition. A stone mason, on the other hand, was viewed as a skilled laborer who could bring a much-valued trade craft to a growing city. Thomas Norcliffe Jones probably never held a stone chisel in his entire life, but it is worth noting that his uncle, William Ellis Jones of Brynterion (back home in Wales), owned a slate quarry. William of Brynterion employed a great many stone masons, and so it is likely Thomas was at least familiar with the terminology of the trade and could convincingly fake an interview on the subject of his occupation.
Regarding the legality and authenticity of the document, John Robinson was a judge and clerk of court in Richmond, VA, until his death in 1850.
Source: Joseph Sabin, Bibliotheca Americana: A Dictionary of Books Relating to America from its Discovery to the Present Time, vol. XVII. (Sabin, New York, 1888). 396.
Source: Robinson, Moncure (1802-1891) at Swem Library Special Collections, The College of William & Mary.
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Transcript of Naturalization Award Papers.
“At a Circuit Superior Court of Law and Chancery for Henrico County and the City of Richmond, on the common law side – held June 21st, 1843.
Thomas N. Jones, stone mason, a native of Wales, this day applied to the Court to be admitted to become a citizen of the United States; and it appearing by the records of this Court, that on the first day of June, 1840, the said Thomas N. Jones declared an oath in the said Court, his intention to become a citizen of the said United States, and to renounce forever all allegiances and fidelity to any foreign Prince, Potentate, State or Sovereignty whatever, and particularly to Victoria, Queen of Great Britain and Ireland; and it being now proved to the satisfaction of the Court by the oaths of Thomas B. Carter and Daniel Francis, citizens of the United States, who were examined on oath as witness that the said Thomas N. Jones hath resided in this State one year at least, and during that time has behaved of a good moral character, attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States, and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the same, he the said Thomas N. Jones declared on oath in open Court, that he will support the Constitution of the United States, and that he doth absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign Prince, Potentate, State or Sovereignty whatever and particularly to the aforesaid Victoria, Queen of Great Britain and Ireland; and whereupon the said Thomas N. Jones is admitted a Citizen of the said United States.
- Robinson C.C. [Clerk of Court]”
A folded paper wrapper around the document bears the following writing, “Qualification & admission of Theo. N. Jones as a citizen of U. States.
June 21, 1843.
Fee 1:00 Cty paid. J.R.”
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Purchase contract for the property at Duvall and Second Street, Richmond, VA., between Bernhard Briel and his wife Sally, and Thomas Norcliffe Jones.
“This indenture made this twenty seventh day of April in the year one thousand eight hundred and forty, Between Bernhard Briel and Sally his wife of the County of Henrico of the one part, and Thomas Jones of the City of Richmond of the other part. Witnesseth, that the said Bernhard Briel and Sally his wife for and in consideration of the sum of nine hundred and fifty dollars to them by the said Thomas Jones in hand paid, the receipt whereof the said Bernhard Briel and Sally his wife do hereby acknowledge have granted, bargained, and sold and by these presents do grant, bargain, sell and convey unto the said Thomas Jones his heirs and assigns, a certain lot or parcel of ground situate, lying and being in the City of Richmond and in Duval’s addition to the said City on the Road or Street leading out to the Richmond poor house, and containing twenty-nine feet seven inches front on the said Road or Street and running back in parallel lines one hundred and twenty two feet, and being the South Western tenement and portion of the lot of ground conveyed to said Briel by Peter Winston and wife by deed dated the 15”. day of September 1835 and recorded in Henrico County Court, (the North Eastern tenement and twenty-five feet five inches the balance of the ground conveyed by said deed having been conveyed by said Briel and wife to Daniel Murphy by deed dated 13”. April 1840 and recorded in said Court, reference being had thereunto will fully appear.) To have and to hold the said lot or parcel of ground with the appurtenances thereto belonging unto him the said Thomas Jones his heirs and assigns, to the only proper use and behoof of the said Thomas Jones his heirs and assigns forever. And the said Bernhard Briel and Sally his wife for themselves, their heirs, executors and administrators, do hereby covenant and agree to and with the said Thomas Jones his heirs and assigns, that they the said Bernhard Briel and Sally his wife and their heirs, the said lot or parcel of ground with its appurtenances, unto him the said Thomas Jones his heir and assigns, against them the said Bernhard Briel and Sally his wife and their heirs, and against all persons whomsoever, shall and will, by these presents, forever warrant and defend.
In Witness whereof the said Bernhard Briel and Sally his wife have hereunto set their hands and affixed their Seals on the day and year first in this Indenture written.
Signed, sealed and delivered in the presence of
Bernhard Briel (signature) (Seal)
Sally Briel (X mark) (Seal)”
The reverse of the page, at the top, reads,
“City of Richmond to wit:
We Thomas Cowles and (illegible) Bailey Justices of the peace in the City aforesaid, in the State of Virginia, do hereby certify that Sally Briel, the wife of Bernhard Briel, parties to a certain deed bearing date on the 27”. day of April 1840 and hereto announced, personally appeared before us in our City aforesaid, and being examined by us privately and apart from her husband, and having the deed aforesaid fully explained to her, she the said Sally Briel acknowledges the same to be her act and deed and declared that she had willingly signed, sealed and delivered the same and that she wishes not to retract it. Given under our hands and seals this 27 day of April 1840.
Thomas Cowles (Seal)
(illegible) Bailey (Seal)”
The reverse of the page, at the bottom, reads,
“This Indenture was acknowledged in the Clerk’s Office of Henrico County Court on the 28”. day of April by Bernhard Briel a party to the same and with the certificate of private examination and relinquishment of Sally Briel dower (wife of the said Bernhard Briel) before two Justices of the peace for the City of Richmond committed to record.
Teste. Loftin N. Ellett C.H.C. (Clerk of Henrico County)”
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