Maj Thomas Melvill, Jr

Maj Thomas Melvill, Jr

Birth
Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, USA
Death 8 Aug 1845 (aged 69)
Galena, Jo Daviess County, Illinois, USA
Burial Galena, Jo Daviess County, Illinois, USA
Memorial ID 147713959 · View Source
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Major Thomas Melvill Jr. was the oldest son of Major Thomas Melvill Sr. (1751–1832) of Boston, Massachusetts. The elder Thomas was a member of the Sons of Liberty, a participant in the Boston Tea Party, a major in the American Revolution, and the paternal grandfather of writer Herman Melville. His son, Thomas Melville Jr. was the uncle of Herman Melville. (The final -e on the family name was added by Herman’s father Allan Melville. Neither Herman’s grandfather nor his uncle used it.)

Born in Boston, Thomas Jr. went to France about 1795, where he associated with elite American expatriates, grew wealthy by negotiating French government bonds, and dabbled in diplomacy and literature. His first marriage (to Francoise Marie des Douleurs Fleury) enabled him to advance in the French banking world, but he lost most of what he made and returned with his family to the U.S. just before the War of 1812. He opened a commissary to serve a new army cantonment in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and at first did well financially, though he lost his wife and two of their children in 1814. His father bought the family a mansion in Pittsfield in 1816, and Thomas and his four surviving children moved into it. In 1815 he married Mary Anna Augusta Hobart, with whom he would have eight children. He tried farming, did poorly, and was twice imprisoned for debt (in 1821 and 1835). In 1837 he moved to Galena, Illinois, “where he seemed out of place with his Frenchified manners and clothes. He worked in a friends’s store, became a chamber of commerce officer (1840), embezzled from his partner, but was not prosecuted.”

Herman Melville visited his uncle Thomas in Galena for a few weeks in 1840. After Thomas’s death, Herman wrote a memoir of his uncle and the farm in Pittsfield where in 1836 Herman had stayed as a lad of seventeen. “[My uncle] was then gray haired, but not wrinkled; of a pleasing complexion, but little, if any, bowed in figure; and preserving evident traces of the prepossessing good looks of his youth. His manners were mild and kindly, with a faded brocade of old French breeding, which . . . impressed me as not a little interesting, not wholly without a touch of pathos.”

Sources: Wikipedia; “The Herman Melville Encyclopedia” ( 1995); and Raymond Weaver, “Herman Melville: Mariner and Mystic” ( 1921).



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  • Maintained by: wayne
  • Originally Created by: Lin
  • Added: 11 Jun 2015
  • Find A Grave Memorial 147713959
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Maj Thomas Melvill, Jr (26 Jun 1776–8 Aug 1845), Find A Grave Memorial no. 147713959, citing Greenwood Cemetery, Galena, Jo Daviess County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by wayne (contributor 46954396) .