Thomas Falconer Correspondence

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Thomas Falconer Correspondence


Thomas Falconer (1805-1882) was an English jurist and explorer who immigrated to the Republic of Texas in 1840. In 1841, he joined the Texan Santa Fe Expedition as an observer. On the trail towards New Mexico, the expedition leader decided to take some of the party to San Miguel to gather provisions, while the rest remained in camp; Falconer, whose horse had been stolen, stayed in camp. The camp party was attacked multiple times by Native Americans, almost starved to death, and when the other party finally returned as prisoners of the Mexicans, they were also arrested. The group of explorers was taken to Mexico City, where Falconer was immediately released at the demand of the British minister. He published his account of this experience in the 1842 book <em>Expedition to Santa Fe: An Account of Its Journey from Texas through Mexico, with Particulars of Its Capture</em>. Falconer would go on to publish more accounts of his travels and return to work as a judge in England until his death. <br /><br />The Thomas Falconer Collection includes correspondence related to this ill-fated journey to Santa Fe. The letters from Falconer describe his involvement in the expedition and give a glimpse into both the life of an explorer on the frontier and the experience of being a prisoner. The sketches and amount of detail in his writings lend themselves well to his future occupation as a chronicler of explorations. Letters from other correspondents indicate the larger political implications of the expedition and its connection to the contemporary relationship between Texas and Mexico. The political motivations of the expedition are evident in one of Falconer’s letters, in which he states that he was told that the expedition’s purpose was for trade, when in fact it was to capture Santa Fe. The expedition was unofficially initiated by the then President of Texas, Mirabeau B. Lamar, in an attempt to gain control over the lucrative Santa Fe Trail and further develop the trade links between Texas and New Mexico. <br /><br />You can also view these items on the University of North Texas’s <a title="Portal to Texas History" href="" target="_blank">Portal to Texas History</a>.


Thomas Falconer


Thomas Falconer Correspondence, Special Collections, Smith Library Center, Southwestern University. You can view the finding aid <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>.



Collection Items

Letter from C.E. Detmold to Edward Trelawny, dated Jan. 8, 1842
Letter from C. E. Detmold in New York to Edward Trelawny at Putney Hill near London. It discusses his fears for Thomas Falconer's safety as he has heard that the "Texian" Santa Fe Expedition had been captured by Mexican forces and touches on British…

Letter to Thomas Falconer, dated June 28, 1846
Letter from unknown author from Washington [D.C.] to Falconer thanking him for a letter and an article from the Washington Review. The author hopes that the "vexatious" war with Mexico will be cut short and references the border dispute between…

Photo portrait of Thomas Falconer, dated Aug. 1854
Photograph of Thomas Falconer wearing judge's robes and a wig, seated next to a table with books. Handwritten text on the back says: "Thomas Falconer, Judge of County Court, August 1854." Falconer was a member of the 1841 Texan Santa Fe expedition.

Letter from Thomas Falconer to Alfred Austin, dated Jan. 12, 1842<br /><br />
Letter from Thomas Falconer to "My dear Austin" in London. The letter was written in the third month of Falconer's captivity and posted from San Luis Potosi, Mexico. The letter recounts how he became part of the Santa Fe Expedition in June 1841 and…

Letter from Thomas Falconer to John David Falconer, dated Dec. [Jan.] 5, 1841
Letter from Thomas Falconer to John David Falconer, dated Dec. 5, 1841, but the December is probably a mistake for January since Falconer was captive in Mexico in December 1941. The letter chronicles Falconer's trip by steamboat down the Ohio and…
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