George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Allan Macrae, 3 September 1754

From Allan Macrae

Dumfries Sept. 3: 1754

Dr Colo.

Mr Wright returnd from Wmsburgh on Monday night,1 & would have immediatly have Waited on You, but I knew Your Good nature, & hatred of Ceremony will excuse it, as he had no Letters for You, or indeed to any others tho. he called on both the Colo. Fairfax’s for their Commds[.] He was kindly recd by the Governr, Who told him there Coud be nothing done till the rising of the assembly, when he Shoud be rememberd, & is the Case with all those, who were in waiting for Comissns; I am very Sensible the kind reception Mr Wright met with, is chiefly owing to your kind & generous Recomendation, which justly challenges his, & my gratefull acknowledgements: I hope he will be able to Shew, it was not a Misplacd Generosity, but that a Commissn is only the necessary reward of Merit.2

Mr Wright brings nothing more remarkable than that the assembly has Voted £20.000 to be rais’d by a poll tax of 5/–2/ whereof to be paid in Decr, & the other 3/ or 30 lb. Tobo to be paid in June next. We Cant tell how it is to be applyd, Or by Whom Disposd. The assembly ’twas thought woud rise this day.3

I Shoud be glad to know Mrs Fairfax is quite recover’d, & that the Ladys are as you wish them to ⟨be⟩—pay my acceptable Complimts to the Ladys & Gent. of the regimt & am—usque ad: as far as you please Dr Colo. Yr Most Oblig’d & Obedt Servt

Allan Macrae

Its said Letters from the Atty indicate some hope of yet succeeding in having the pistole affair determined [in] favr of the Country, & that he is establisd in his attorneys place. Its thought this favourable turn of his affairs is owing to the alacrity with which the assembly Voted the 10.000£ as appeard by the Journals of the House Sent to Brittain.4


Allan Macrae (d. 1766) emigrated from Scotland to Virginia about 1750 and became a prominent merchant and later a trustee of Dumfries in Prince William County. The town was founded in 1749 and located on Quantico Creek just above its mouth on the Potomac River. It flourished before the Revolution as a center for tobacco factors, mostly Scots, and was the county seat from 1762 to 1822. By 1800 Quantico Creek had so silted up as to end the town’s life as a port.

1GW sent William Wright to Williamsburg from Alexandria with his letter to Dinwiddie of 21 Aug., and Wright was back in Dumfries on 2 Sept.

2By 11 Sept. Wright was given a commission as ensign effective 20 July, making him senior ensign in the regiment. See Robert Dinwiddie to GW, 11 Sept. 1754, n. 10.

3For the fate of this bill, see William Fairfax to GW, 5 Sept. 1754, n.2. This assembly rose on 5 Sept. (JHB, 1752–1755, 1756–1758 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 , 204).

4The “Atty” was the attorney general of Virginia, Peyton Randolph (c.1721–1775), then member of the House of Burgesses for the College of William and Mary, later speaker of the House of Burgesses and first president of the Continental Congress. The “pistole affair” began in 1752 when Lieutenant Governor Dinwiddie introduced a fee of 1 pistole for every land patent signed by him. This act elicited stiff resistance from land speculators and the burgesses—“the Country”—who appointed Peyton Randolph as their agent to go to England to get the fee disallowed. In retaliation Dinwiddie dismissed Randolph as attorney general. On 24 June 1754 the Privy Council in London declared its support for Dinwiddie with several important reservations, one of which was its order for the reinstatement of Randolph in his “place” as attorney general (Greene, “Pistole Fee,” description begins Jack P. Greene, ed. “The Case of the Pistole Fee: The Report of a Hearing on the Pistole Fee Dispute Before the Privy Council, June 18, 1754.” Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 66 (1958): 399–422. description ends 399–422). The £10,000 was authorized by the Virginia Assembly in Feb. 1754 to finance the 1754 campaign that ended with the Fort Necessity capitulation (6 Hening description begins William Waller Hening, ed. The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619. 13 vols. 1819–23. Reprint. Charlottesville, Va., 1969. description ends 418).

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