The Museum Collection
Letter from Thomas Bolling to William Bolling Concerning William Galt
Description: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.