George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 8 January 1760]

Tuesday Jany. 8. Directed an Indictment to be formd by Mr. Johnston against Jno. Ballendine for a fraud in some Iron he sold me.

Got a little Butter from Mr. Dalton and wrote to Colo. West for Pork.

In the Evening 8 of Mr. French’s Hogs from his Ravensworth Quarter came down one being lost on the way as the others might as well have been for their goodness.

Nothing but the disappointments in this Article of Pork which he himself had causd and my necessities coud possibly have obligd me to take them.

Carpenter Sam was taken with the Meazles.

John Ballendine (d. 1782) of Prince William County, an enthusiastic promoter, builder, and operator of a series of mills, ironworks, and canals, had moved in 1755 to a site on Occoquan Creek about two miles above Colchester and now operated “an iron furnace, a forge, two saw mills, and a bolting mill” there (BURNABY description begins Rufus Rockwell Wilson, ed. Burnaby’s Travels through North America. 1798. Reprint. New York, 1904. description ends , 66). The “fraud” was a shortage in weight of an iron shipment from the Occoquan works to Mount Vernon. On 19 Dec. 1759 GW had paid Ballendine £44 12s. 3d. for 2 tons of bar iron, but he received only 3,556 pounds, leaving a balance of £8 5s. 7d. charged against Ballendine (LEDGER A description begins Manuscript Ledger Book 1, 1750-72, in George Washington Papers, Library of Congress. description ends , 69). GW wished to recover that sum in iron or cash and at the same time to teach Ballendine a lesson, but George Johnston (d. 1766) of Alexandria and Belvale, a distinguished lawyer and Fairfax County burgess, today told him that a suit in the county court would be expensive and that a conviction would have little, if any, effect on Ballendine, because he had been previously found guilty and punished severely in a similar case without producing any change in his behavior (Johnston to GW, 8 Jan. 1760, DLC:GW). Although Ballendine wrote GW 18 Nov. 1760, expressing a desire to send iron to make up the deficiency and thus to clear his name of all suspicion of dishonesty, the dispute was never settled (DLC:GW). GW continued to charge £8 5s. 7d. against Ballendine in his ledgers until about 1773, when he wrote the sum off as “lost” (LEDGER B description begins Manuscript Ledger Book 2, 1772-93, in George Washington Papers, Library of Congress. description ends , 7).

John Dalton (d. 1777), a merchant in Alexandria and one of the founders of that town, had supplied GW during the French and Indian War. Col. John West (d. 1777), uncle of John West, Jr., lived on the south side of Hunting Creek near the Potomac River, his house being about two miles by water and four by road from Alexandria (Va. Gaz., P&D, 24 Nov. 1774). He had succeeded his brother Hugh West as Fairfax County burgess soon after Hugh’s death in 1754 and served in the house until 1774 (JHB description begins H. R. McIlwaine and John Pendleton Kennedy, eds. Journals of the House of Burgesses of Virginia. 13 vols. Richmond, 1905–15. description ends , 1752–55, 197). He was a Fairfax County justice 1745–77 and a vestryman 1744–65 for Truro Parish, and after 1765, for Fairfax Parish. He married twice, having children both by his first wife, Mary, and his second wife, Margaret Pearson (John West’s will, 27 Mar. 1776, Fairfax County Wills, Book D–1, 25–33, Vi Microfilm; BROCKETT description begins F. L. Brockett. The Lodge of Washington. A History of the Alexandria Washington Lodge, No. 22, A.F. and A.M. of Alexandria, Va., 1783-1876. Alexandria, Va., 1876. description ends , 104). Because John West, Jr., lived in the same general neighborhood and died only a few months before his uncle did, the two men are often confused with one another. In the diaries, GW distinguishes between them by referring to the elder John West as colonel—apparently a militia title—and to his nephew as Mr. or Capt. John West. The title of captain may also have been a militia designation or may have derived from an earlier involvement in merchant shipping (Va. Gaz. 5 Mar. 1752; LEDGER A description begins Manuscript Ledger Book 1, 1750-72, in George Washington Papers, Library of Congress. description ends , 135).

Ravensworth was originally a patent for 21,996 acres of land granted to William Fitzhugh 1 Oct. 1694 (Northern Neck Deeds and Grants, Book 2, 14, Vi Microfilm). Lying west of Alexandria and north of Mount Vernon, this large area was now divided into several plantations and quarters belonging to various planters (see map of GW’s lands in MVAR, 1965, 25).

Sam, who was one of GW’s slave carpenters, recovered.

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