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Presidential appointment signed by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison - 1807 - In an antique frame


Price: $12,950.00. See below for the payment process for this item.

Presidential Commission signed by President Thomas Jefferson and Secretary of State James Madison appointing Alexander Moore as Register of Wills effective November 18, 1807.

In an antique frame with UV-protecting, non-reflective conservation-grade acrylic. On an off-white mat in an elegant silk moire pattern.

Includes the document and the folio that carried it, which also bears James Madison’s signature. (You can also see the word “FREE.”) The “free franking” privilege predates the establishment of the republic itself. The Continental Congress bestowed it on its members in 177 5.

The folio is dated June 4th, 1807 and was also signed by Richard Forrest, State Department clerk under Jefferson.


Thomas Jefferson, President of the United States of America,

To all who shall see these presents Greeting:

Know Ye, that reposing special Trust and Confidence
in the Integrity, Ability and Diligence of Alexander Moore, of
Columbia District, I have nominated, and by and with the advice and
consent of the Senate do appoint him Register of Wills for
the County of Alexandria in the said Columbia District; and do
authorize and empower him to execute and fulfil the duty of that office
according to Law; and to Have and to Hold the said office,
with all the powers, privileges; Emoluments thereto of right appertain-
-ing unto him the said Alexander Moore, during the pleasure of the
President of the United states for the time being

[Seal of the United States]

In Testimony whereof, I have caused
these Letters to be made patent, and the Seal of the United
States to be here unto a fixed. Given under my hand
at the City of Washington the Eighteenth day of Nov. in the
year of our Lord one thousand Eight hundred and Seven
and of the independence of the U. States of America the
Thirty Second.

Th Jefferson [Signature]

—By the President,

James Madison [Signature] Secretary of State


[Folio Address Panel]




Department of State
James Madison
Alexander Moore Esquire

[Handwriting in margin]
Qualified June 6th, 1807


[Handwritten notations]

Department of State
June the 4th 1807


I am directed to enclose you a Commission
of Register of Wills for Alexandria County in the
District of Columbia, which I hope will get safe
to hand.                I have the honor to be
                                    very respectfully
                                    your Obt. Serv.
Richd Forrest


Alexander Moore Esq.

Provenance: The Coyle Family, descendants of William Radford, Admiral of the Civil War (1809-1890), and stepson of explorer William Clark.

  • Folio: 12.75” x 15”
  • Letter: 10” x 15”
  • Frame size: 26.5” x 32.5”

Shipping: $55. Please allow two weeks for shipping.

Payment process: $500 paid now and the rest wired within three business days. 

We will supply the buyer with wire instructions. If the sending institution charges a fee for sending the wire, that amount should be added to the total to be sent so that it nets to $12,505 (including shipping). If payment isn’t completed, we’ll return the $500 and contact the next person who wanted to buy it.

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Historical background on the appointment

The Register of Wills was essentially what the probate office does today. They receive, validate, and execute wills and where no will is available (intestate) oversee the administration process. 

Moore's name appears in Alexandria's early records several times.

And his appointment is included in this communication from Jefferson to the Senate.

Historical background Moore and his family

Alexander Moore (1786–1843) was a lawyer and served as the Register of Wills for the “County of Alexandria, Virginia, which was then part of the District of Columbia.

He was the son of Margaret Tebbs (1757–1834) and Cleon Moore (1752–1815[1]). Cleon Moore was an attorney licensed to practice in Fairfax County, Virginia. In July 1777 he mustered in as a Captain in Grayson’s Regiment, Continental Troops[2]. On 11 September 1777, he was wounded at the Battle of Brandywine, Pennsylvania, and in on 28 June 1778 fought at the Battle of Monmouth, New Jersey. He resigned on 5 July 1778.

About the time of Alexander’s birth, the Moore family moved to Alexandria, Virginia, where Cleon served as Clerk of the Court and later as a lawyer and “Notary Publick.” In 1801 President John Adams nominated “Clion Moore Esqr of Alexandria to be Register of wills for that County”[3] and President Thomas Jefferson officially appointed him. (Moore was also a gifted musician who taught private lessons. One of his patrons was George Washington, who hired him to teach his nephew, George, at Mount Vernon[4] and wished to rent one of his properties to Moore and his family.[5])

Alexander, one of (possibly) six children born to Margaret and Cleon Moore, followed in his father’s footsteps into the practice of law and in 1811 he married Ann M. West in Alexandria, Virginia[6].

On 18 November 1807, President Thomas Jefferson nominated Alexander Moore to the Register of Wills for the “County of Alexandria in the said Columbia District” which was approved—the same office his father held.

This commission contains the signatures of Thomas Jefferson as well as James Madison, then serving as Secretary of State. (Madison’s signature appears on both sides of the folio.) Of note, the Commission lists the date in Gregorian calendar as well as “and of the independence of the U. States of America the Thirty Second [year, 1775].”

[1] The U.S. National Archives lists Cleon Moore’s birth as being born in 1752 and dying in 1808. Multiple trees on genealogical forums list dates of 1748–ca. 1818.

[6] District of Columbia, U.S., Compiled Marriages, 1801–1825.



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