Accession number(s): 2023.36
Material: Iron gall ink on laid paper
Date: November 5, 1790
Country: United States
Maker: Patrick Henry
Provenance: Patrick Henry (1736-1799) to unknown to Dalshire International to Patrick Henry Memorial Foundation
Description: This document, written and signed by Patrick Henry, records his receipt of seventy-five British pounds, eighteen pence, and eight shillings from Harry Innes as delivered by Matthew Walton. It is likely this was one of the last documents written by Henry before leaving the Virginia House of Delegates at the end of the year.
Harry Innes (1752-1816) was born in Caroline County, VA. He attended the College of William & Mary, where he read law beginning in 1772 with George Wythe. He was admitted to the bar in 1773 and began his legal practice in the frontier of Virginia.
In 1778, Governor Patrick Henry appointed Innes deputy attorney for Bedford County. In 1779, the Virginia legislature appointed Innes as commissioner to settle claims to unpatented lands around Abingdon. In that same year, Governor Thomas Jefferson appointed Innes escheator for Bedford County, and he began liquidating properties of Loyalists who had left the colony. His success in those endeavors (and perhaps his brother James Innes’ election to the Virginia House of Delegates representing James City County) led on March 27, 1782 to Harry Innes’ being appointed as superintendent over the commissioners of six southwestern Virginia counties: Bedford, Campbell, Charlotte, Halifax, Henry and Pittsylvania.
Innes would soon travel the Wilderness Road over the Cumberland Gap and seek his fortune in what had been called Kentucky County until being split into three counties in 1780. In the fall of 1782, Virginia’s legislature elected Innes as an Assistant Judge of the Supreme Court of Judicature for the District of Kentucky. At this time, the citizens of these three counties began fighting for independence from Virginia to create the new state of Kentucky. Harry Innes, opposing Patrick Henry, supported the creation of the state. Innes was a member of eight of the ten conventions held between the United States, Virginia, and Kentucky to discuss statehood. He later served as president of the first electoral college for the choice of governor and lieutenant governor under the first state constitution.
President George Washington on September 24, 1789, nominated Innes to the United States District Court for the District of Kentucky, to a new seat authorized by 1 Stat. 73. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on September 26, 1789.
Matthew Walton (1750-1819) served as member of the Danville Conventions held in what was formerly Danville, VA (but is now Danville, KY) in 1785 and 1787. He served as member of the first state constitutional convention in 1792, which established the state of Kentucky. Walton later served as member of the Kentucky House of Representatives in 1792, 1795, and 1808 before being elected as member of the US House of Representatives on March 4, 1803, serving until March 3, 1807.
According to the receipt, Walton delivered the money from Innes for use in the estate of Anne Christian, who died several months earlier. The money was likely going to Henry’s role as executor of her will, i.e, purchasing items for her children and enslaved workers, and possibly paying off some of her debts.
Annie Henry Christian (1738-May 4, 1790), born Anne Henry, was a colonial pioneer who documented the journey with her husband William Christian (c.1742-1786) and their children westward to Kentucky. Annie was a sister to Patrick Henry.
Henry introduced Annie to his friend William Christian, who studied law under Henry, and the two married in 1768. After acquiring land claims in Kentucky for his service in the French and Indian War, Christian’s family and a number of their enslaved people traveled the Wilderness Road to Kentucky in the spring of 1785. They settled near present-day Louisville. Annie’s letters to family, friends, and business associates during this time provide insight into westward movement of the 18th century America and life in the wilderness.
After her husband’s death, Annie attained the legal status of “feme sole” which meant that she could enter into contracts, buy and sell property, and be sued in court. She also operated a salt mine of her husband’s.
Annie returned to Virginia with five of her children in September 1788. She became ill with tuberculosis in the spring of 1789, dying in Norfolk in May 1790. Before her death, Christian told her brother that if anything happened to her, she wanted Patrick and their brother-in-law Col. Samuel Meredith, Jr. (1732-1808) to raise the children in eastern Virginia. Her wishes were carried out, and soon after her death, her only son John (Johnny) lived under the care of Patrick Henry, including at Red Hill.