George Washington Papers

[undated diary entry]

Sales of the Pews in Alexandria Church—to whom—&ca.

Nos. Purchasers Price
4 Mr. Townsd. Dade £28.   
5 Colo. G. Washington 36.10
13 Mr. Robt. Adam 30.   
14 Mr. Robt. Alexander 30.10
15 Mr. Dalton 20.   
18 Mr. Thos. Fleming 21.5 
19 Colo. Carlyle 30.   
20 Mr. Wm. Ramsay 33.   
28 Messrs. Jno. Muir &ca. 36.5 
29 Mr. Jno. West Junr. 33.   
Average price £29.17

The new church at Alexandria was formally presented to the Fairfax vestry on 27 Feb. 1773 (POWELL description begins Mary G. Powell. The History of Old Alexandria, Virginia: From July 13, 1749 to May 24, 1861. Richmond, 1928. description ends , 87). By that date GW had paid the £36 10s. for his pew, and all of the pews were ready for use. But he was disturbed to learn that some of the vestrymen were proposing to refund the purchasers’ money and reclaim the pews as the common property of the parish, paying for them by a general tax on the parishioners. Such action, GW wrote to vestryman John Dalton on 15 Feb. 1773, would be “repugnant . . . to every Idea I entertain of justice . . . and the right of reclaiming the Pews by the Vestry . . . I most clearly deny; therefore, as a Parishioner who is to be sadled with the extra charge of the Subscription Money I protest agt. the Measure. As a Subscriber who meant to lay the foundn. of a Family Pew in the New Church I shall think myself Injurd” (DLC:GW). According to the vestry book, GW was not officially sold a pew in the church until April 1785 (FREEMAN description begins Douglas Southall Freeman. George Washington: A Biography. 7 vols. New York, 1948–57. description ends , 6:3, n.11).

The Camden-Yorke opinion and the list of pews in the church in Alexandria are written in the front inside cover of GW’s 1773 almanac.

townsd. dade: There were at least five Townshend Dades living at this time and their genealogies appear to be hopelessly confused and contradictory. This is probably Townshend Dade (d. 1781), the father of Rev. Townshend Dade, Jr. (born c.1740), minister of Fairfax Parish from 1765 to 1778.

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