While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


TOWNSEND, NATHANIEL (1804–1864). Nathaniel Townsend, merchant and Republic of Texas diplomat, son of Nathan and Dorcas (Gardner) Townsend, was born in Oneida County, New York, on June 24, 1804. Because of his ill health his parents sent him in 1828 to Natchez, Mississippi, to join his brother. There he married Maria Roach in 1829; they had four children. In 1834, on one of his trips from Mississippi to St. Louis, Townsend met Stephen F. Austin and became interested in Texas. After an exploratory trip, he moved his family to San Felipe de Austin, where he set up a general store. His business was burned when the Mexican army passed through in March 1836. On April 2, 1837, Townsend was named consul at New Orleans for the Republic of Texas by President Sam Houston; he served in that position until September 20, 1838. He moved to Austin in 1839, when the town was selected as the national capital. About 1841 he built a frame store on what is now Congress Avenue and stocked drugs, groceries, hardware, harness, and plows. After his wife died in New Orleans, he sent his children to school in the East, and on a visit to them he married Angeline Townsend at Williamstown, Massachusetts, on September 11, 1847. The family returned to New Orleans for three years, and in 1850 Townsend again began merchandising in Austin. His business prospered. He constructed a mansion between Seventeenth and Eighteenth streets and staffed it with a retinue of slaves. Because of his poor health he returned to New York during the Civil War. He died there in 1864 and was buried at Holland Corner.

Alma Howell Brown, "The Consular Service of the Republic of Texas," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 33 (January, April 1930). Annie Doom Pickrell, Pioneer Women in Texas (Austin: Steck, 1929).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, "TOWNSEND, NATHANIEL," accessed June 07, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fto33.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...