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Thomas Skinker letter

Identifier: SC 01826

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Content Description

A single four page letter written by Thomas Skinker to associate Dr. Nathaniel Vanderwall Clopton of Virginia from whom he describes renting enslaved people. The letter concerns topics relating to slavery including the annual hiring of named enslaved people and details about an injured enslaved person.


  • Creation: 1839 January 16

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to all researchers. Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, such as the Virginia Public Records Act (Code of Virginia. § 42.1-76-91); and the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (Code of Virginia § 2.2-3705.5). Confidential material may include, but is not limited to, educational, medical, and personnel records. If sensitive material is found in this collection, please contact a staff member immediately. The disclosure of personally identifiable information pertaining to a living individual may have legal consequences for which the College of William and Mary assumes no responsibility.

Conditions Governing Use

Before reproducing or quoting from any materials, in whole or in part, permission must be obtained from the Special Collections Research Center, and the holder of the copyright, if not Swem Library.

Biographical / Historical

Thomas K. Skinker (1805-1887) was born in Fauquier County, Virginia. He moved to St. Louis, Missouri in 1838 where he purchased property he named Ellenwood. Skinner also owned a plantation in Brandon, Rankin County, Mississippi, in which he held enslaved people. The letter is addressed to Dr. Nathaniel Vanderwall Clopton (1786-1855) who was from Morgansburg, Virginia and worked as a physican in Fauquier County, Virginia. Clopton was also a veteran of the War of 1812. During the American Civil War (1861-1865) Skinker was required to sign an oath of loyalty to the Union Army as a person who owned enslaved people.

The letter contains accounts of Skinker hiring enslaved people owned by Clopton and subsequent prices and details including a refrence to the Mississippi dollar. Skinker also comments on two seperate enslaved poeples' physical and mental conditions in regards to their labor value. Skinker mentions several enslaved people by name thorughout the letter. At the end of the letter, Skinker breifly mentions his family.


0.1 Linear Feet (1 legal size folder)




The Thomas Skinker letter is arranged by item.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased with the Nelle Richardson Tonkin fund.

Guide to Thomas Skinker letter
William & Mary Special Collections and Research Center staff
2023 February
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Research Center Repository