Joseph Clay papers
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Joseph Clay papers

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Georgia Historical Society
Creator: Clay, Joseph, 1741-1804.
Title: Joseph Clay papers
Dates: 1765-1923
Extent: 1.0 cubic feet (2 boxes, 1 microfilm roll)
Identification: MS 0152

Biographical/Historical Note

Joseph Clay (1741-1804) came to Savannah from England in 1760. He was a planter engaged in rice cultivation and a businessman associated with several firms throughout his career. He was a member of the Council of Safety, 1775; Deputy Paymaster General of the Southern Department, 1777-1782; delegate to the Continental Congress, 1778-1780; Treasurer of Georgia, 1782; and trustee for the establishment of the University of Georgia, 1785.

Scope and Content Note

The papers in this collection include five volumes of Clay's letter books, 1766-1802, four of which were published as Letters of Joseph Clay...1776-1793: Collections of the Georgia Historical Society, volume 8, 1913. There were some omissions in the publication which are marked with parentheses in the originals. Letter book 5, 1785-1802, has not been published. The letter books relate to Clay's business as a merchant and his work as Deputy Paymaster General.

There are three folders of letters and miscellaneous papers, 1765-1923, including papers of his son, Joseph Clay, Jr. and his great-great-grandson, William Law Clay. Correspondents include General Nathanael Green, Seaborn Jones, Edward Telfair, Israel Whelan, John Wereat and Jonathon Cochran. The correspondence is arranged chronologically.

Microfilm of the letter books and correspondence items 6-12 is available, roll #C-152-01.

Index Terms

Bonaventure Cemetery (Savannah, Ga.)
Clay, Joseph, 1741-1804.
Clay, Joseph, 1764-1811.
Clay, William Law, active 1863.
Genealogies (histories)
Indians of North America.
Letter books.
Letters (correspondence)
Mosby, John Singleton, 1833-1916.

Physical and Technical Access Restrictions

The letter books and part of the correspondence (items 6-12) are too fragile to use. Microfilm copies and The Letters of Joseph Clay should be used instead of the originals.

A microfilm reader is required to access the letter books and some correspondence.

Administrative Information

Custodial History

Item 6 was purchased from Schindler's Antique Shop in Charleston, SC; item 8 was purchased from Carnegie Book Shop in New York; item 11 was purchased from Forest H. Sweet, Battle Creek, Michigan; item 12 was purchased from Schindler's Antique Shop, Charleston, SC.

Preferred Citation

[item identification], Joseph Clay papers, MS 152, Georgia Historical Society, Savannah, Georgia.

Acquisition Information

Purchased, 1953 (Item 6); Gift of W.C. Hartridge, 1952 (Item 7); Purchased, 1954 (Item 8); Gift of Augusta Clay, 1958 (Item 10); Purchased, 1953 (Item 11); Purchased, 1952 (Item 12); Gift of Hunter and Augusta Clay, 1958, 1970 (Folders 2, 3)


Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

Copyright has not been assigned to the Georgia Historical Society. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Division of Library and Archives. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Georgia Historical Society as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the researcher.

Separated Material

Artifacts were separated and cataloged with the Georgia Historical Society Artifacts Collection. View digital images of artifacts at the end of this collection inventory or search the Digital Image Catalog for further information.

Publication Note

Four of the letter books were published as Letters of Joseph Clay...1776-1793: Collections of the Georgia Historical Society v.8, 1913. There were some omissions in the publication which are marked with parentheses in the originals. Letter book #5 was not published.


Encoding funded by a 2012 Documenting Democracy grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

Container List




21Letter book, 1766 February 20-1783 April 28
Letter book is too fragile, use microfilm C-0152-01.
2Letter book, 1780 January 4 and 1780 January 6-1783 April 23
In addition to letters, the book includes notes on the phases of the moon and planting of crops, 1782; numeration; Resolutions of Congress, February 5-9, 1778 regarding Auditors for the Continental Army; Resolutions of Congress, May 27, 29, June 2, 1778 and August 18, 1779, regarding pay of Continental Army.
Letter book is too fragile, use microfilm C-0152-01.
3Letter book, 1784 February 16-June 3
Letter book is too fragile, use microfilm C-0152-01.
4Letter book, 1789 April 13-1793 February 1
Letter book is too fragile, use microfilm C-0152-01.
5Letter book, 1785 September 24-1802 November 23
Letter book is too fragile, use microfilm C-0152-01.
1Correspondence and other papers
Items 6-12 are too fragile, use microfilm C-0152-01.

Item 6: Jonathon Cochran to Joseph Clay, 1765 February 23
Regarding ordering commodities.
Item 7: Joseph Clay to Nathanael Greene. Savannah, 1782 August 28
Notes he will get his papers and accounts in order before leaving his office of Deputy Paymaster General; foresees land speculation in Georgia; recommends Richard Wylly.
Item 8: Joseph Clay to Nathanael Greene. Savannah, 1783 March 15
Regarding conveyance to Mulberry Grove Plantation; harsh acts of assembly to those under Act of Confiscation and Banishment; Commissioners appointed to settle Georgia-South Carolina boundary; Indian treaty; probability of peace treaty; incursions by Floridians.
Item 9: John Wereat to Joseph Clay. Mount Hope, 1789 May 26
Regarding audit of Clay's claim against James Hume and terms for liquidating claims against confiscated estate. Bears undated footnote from Augusta regarding: receipts from U.S. Commissioners and expenses of William Glascock on recruiting services in August 1776.
Item 10: Joseph Clay to Seaborn Jones. Savannah, 1798 March 12
Regarding collection of judgments against several persons for debt.
Item 11: Joseph Clay to Seaborn Jones. Savannah, 1801 March 20
Regarding judgments against Preston's estate, against George Walton for debts contracted before the war, and against others.
Item 12: Joseph Clay to Israel Whelen. Savannah, 1801 November 14
Regarding purchase of tobacco to be used by Clay for presents at a treaty to be held with the Indians.


2Correspondence and other papers

Certificate of Richard Wylly. Chatham County, 1787 March 30
States the oath of office for Assistant Justice of Chatham County has been administered to Richard Wylly. Signed by Joseph Clay and William Gibbons.

Joseph Clay to Edward Telfair. Savannah, 1793 October 29
Enclosed a rough draft of the case of the executors of James Jackson, late of London, deceased v. Clay, Telfair & Clark, survivors.

Joseph Clay, Jr. to Seaborn Jones, 1788 May 7
Confirms request for Jones to appear at trial on May 20.

Ann Clay (Mrs. Joseph Clay) to her son-in-law, William Wallace, 1819 March 19
Contains family news.

Tax return o the estate of Joseph Clay, 1863 May 26

Charles C. Jones to Joseph Clay, Jr. Augusta, 1878 January 11
Notes he is sending Clay an autograph of his ancestor, but no enclosure contained.

Thomas Carolyn Clay to his son, William Law Clay. Tivoli plantation, 1870 July 7

Statement that William L. Clay has been admitted as a member of the law firm of Erwin, du Bignon & Chisholm. Savannah, 1892 February 1
Signed by Robert G. Erwin, Fleming G. du Bignon, and Walter S. Chisholm.

Joseph D. Weed to William L. Clay. Noroton, Ct., 1895 August 27


3Correspondence and other papers

Passport for Brig. Susan of New York, David Copeland, Master, issued by the President of the United States, 1836 July 22
Signed by Andrew Jackson, President and John Forsyth, Secretary of State with presidential seal.

Printed document titled, "A schedule of all the articles and subject of taxation, under the provisions of the Act of Congress...for defense and government of the Confederate States...", 1863 September 24
Signed by William Law; October 19, 1863, signed by J.M.B. Lovell. Both documents signed by J.B. Ripley, Assessor.

Savannah Public High School Annual Certificate, 1882 July 1
Awarded by Boy's High School to William Law Clay for attendance, deportment and diligence.

Resurvey of Tivoli tract in Bryan County by William Hughes, surveyor, 1886 April 17

Cancelled check, order of Williams Brothers & Company, Inc. to W.D. Simkins and Company, Savannah. Norfolk, Virginia, 1889 November 17

Receipt to Athens M. Co. for bonds. Athens, 1899 April 16

Announcement of Plant System of Railway, 1902 January 1
Announcing appointment of W.L. Clay to General Counsel for the plant system.

Park and Tree Commission, City of Savannah to W.L. Clay. Savannah, 1923 November 14
Conveys title to lot in Bonaventure Cemetery.

Deed to W.L. Clay for Lot No. 11, Sec. A, Bonaventure Cemetery, 1923 November 8

Bill of lading for shipment of potatoes to W.D. Simkins & Co. from Williams Bros, undated

Clay genealogy tracing back to Charlemagne

Unidentified and undated survey of tract of land

Certificate of representation to W.L. Clay in American Elite and Sociologist

Lithograph, "Middletown, From the East Side of Connecticut River"

Photograph, "Bombardment of Fort Sumter, April 12 th & 13 th, 1861" copy

General John Singleton Mosby photographs

Joseph Clay Monument photographs, Colonial Park Cemetery, Savannah


4Correspondence and other papers

Bond. Joseph Clay to Allen S. Izard of Charleston, S.C., 1879 January 15
Mortgaging the credit portion of purchase money for Recess Plantation in Beaufort, S.C.

Agreement between Joseph Clay and the Savannah Bank and Trust Company, 1885 May 13
Regarding the balance due on above mortgage.



16-12C-0152-01. Letter books and correspondence
A-0152-001 Folding spectacles View online.
A-0152-002 Green hinged case for spectacles View online.