The Museum Collection

Letter from Thomas Bolling to William Bolling Concerning William Galt

ID #: 1073.1.5
Creator: Thomas Bolling
Date: November 29, 1800
Format: letter, three pages
Source: Gift of Mrs. Archer Jones
Collection: Poe Foundation, Inc.
Place of Publication:
Publish Date:
Thomas Bolling refers to John Allan's uncle as "Old skinflint."
Page 1
The portion of this page of the letter pertaining to William Galt reads:

"I shall this day pay off your % with Biscowe & Galt. Biscoies % is $35.15.5% & to Old Galt $65.15.16. you will perhaps be unsurprised when I have to inform you that I have engaged with the Old skinflint again, when I came up yesterday Morning he asked if it was not time for P. W. Royce to Come down for my Negroes Cloathing I told him that I expected that he or W. Ragland would be down this Day, but that I was done with him, that I had cald upon him for Your % & mine, that I intended to sell my Tob. Pay him of our..." [continued on next page]
Page Two
The portion of this page pertaining to William Galt reads:

"Acct. & have nothing more to do with him, he appeared to be much surprised, & a more anxious Man, you never saw, than he was, to have me continue my dealings with him, however I told him, I was much vexed at my last Years % & that I could not deal with him any longer and went up to Polloci, when I got there, he refused to furnish me with any article, but at the running rates, of course I could not engage with himn, as that was his mode of dealing, and fortunately as I thought, when returning, I met D. Ragland who told me, that W. Galt called him in, & told him to indeavor with me to take my Goods of him, if he should meet with me, I accordingly went the Old Man told me that I must not leave him, that he would be bound I should have no fault to find with my % after taking them up, he assured me that I should my price Goods a 100 from the prime cost and gave me 33/6 for my Tob. Which was 16 more than any other person would give, & I could not tell where to apply, after leaving Polloc, Ragland is pleased with the Goods. Give my kind Love to my Dear Little Willm A Bolling and tell him in addition to his Order (or rather request), I have sent him a Cap which hope will please and will be Delivered to him by W. Dudley Ragland if the Shoes Does not fit they can be changed."
Page Three
The portion of this page pertaining to William Galt reads:

"Puttie Gla Jr. & only one Bunch of Nail Rod, as it is quite too large, & smaller is not now to be had in Town for W. R. & one of W. Galts young men, has been all over the Town of Richmond and I can not get any smaller, I thought it best to send one bunch, tho it was too large. I am in great haste with most Afft. Love to you all…"
Address and Remnant of Wax Seal
Note from Donor of Letter
Image 1 of


This letter provides information about what Richmonders thought of Edgar Allan Poe's "Uncle Bill" William Galt, the uncle of Poe's foster father John Allan. Scottish-born merchant William Galt made his fortune in Virginia and invited his nephew John Allan to go into business in Richmond as well. Judging by this letter, written by the grandfather of one of Poe's University of Virginia classmates, Thomas Bolling, the established "aristocratic" planter class of Richmond society felt a degree of contempt towards the newly wealthy merchant class Galt represented. Letters like this provide researchers valuable insights into the world in which Poe lived.

In this letter dated November 29, 1800, from Thomas Bolling to his son William Bolling, the elder Bolling complains about William Galt, referring to him as "Old skinflint" and expresses his wishes never to conduct business with Galt again.

When William Galt died, he left most of his fortune to John Allan, who used some of the inheritance to purchase a Richmond mansion into which he and his family (including Edgar Allan Poe) moved in 1825.