George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Fairfax, 28 June 1755

From William Fairfax

Wmsburg 28th June 17551


I rec’d your Favor of the 7th inst. which I Show’d to our particular Friends. We rejoyce at your safe Return with the necessary Cash wanted to begin your Progress and are concernd at the G—s unreasonable Impatien⟨ce and⟩2 the unmerited Censure of our Want of public Zeal to answer all his Demands. We allow He may know his Wants, and We are the Judges to know our Ability in the Supply. If We are misrepresented home, our Correspondents will acquaint Us therewith and give Us an Opportunity to acquit our Selves of any unjust Complaints3—G: Fx writes to Me, that He thinks himself obligd to go as far as Will’s Creek in quest of and to get Enquiry of his Plowman and Horses, unduly taken from the Plow and carried away without a Valuation and perhaps without Remedy.4 Will any military Officer take Such a violent Method in Great Britain with Impunity! If so, I do not understand what I read in the Articles of War.5 We shall be a little impatient till We can know You have passd the rugged, and Sometimes thought, impassable Mountains calld the Allegany and have descended into the fertile Plains of the Ohio, driving back the French to their narrow Limits in Canada—The Ho. of Burgesses are now in Debate and forming a Lottery Bill as the most probable Means of raising Money to defray the public Contingencys, Others imagine a Land-Tax would be more Effectual.6 Our latest advices inform that the King embarqu’d for Hanover the 29th of April—The Duke at the Head of the Regency.7 A French Squadron from Brest Sayld to the Wtern Parts of Ireland, Sr Edwd Hawke & Adml Boscawen gone after them.8 The Bearer Capt. Shaw lately from England, last from So. Carolina is recommended by the Duke as an Officer worthy of General Braddock’s Regards and goes to receive his Commands.9 I can10 doubt but your Merit prevents You from being Maltreated on Accot of your endeavoring to vindicate your Countrymen wherein They may be fairly vindicated. Please to make my kind Complts to Capt. Cholmondly, Lt Locke11 and Such other Officers as appear to think Me worthy of their Remembrance. Yr Mother & Family are well and Send their Several Greetings, desiring often to know of yr Welfare & Progress. I am dear Sr Your faithful & affecte Friend &c.

W: Fairfax


1William Fairfax was in Williamsburg at this time apparently to attend the council meetings for the current session of the General Assembly. See GW to William Fairfax, 5 May 1755, n.1.

2The manuscript is torn here. The material in angle brackets is taken from Hamilton, Letters to Washington description begins Stanislaus Murray Hamilton, ed. Letters to Washington and Accompanying Papers. 5 vols. Boston and New York, 1898–1902. description ends , 1:67–68.

3For General Braddock’s disillusionment with the colonists, the Virginians in particular, and his comments on this subject to British officials, see GW to William Fairfax, 7 June 1755, n.2.

4For George William Fairfax’s efforts to recover his two horses and his plowman Simpson, see ibid. Fairfax arrived at Winchester on his way back from Fort Cumberland before 26 July (see William Fairfax to GW, 26 July 1755) and returned to the House of Burgesses by 6 Aug.

5The Articles of War contained the basic rules and regulations by which the British army was disciplined and administered from day to day. Frequently updated, they covered a broad range of activities including divine worship, mutiny, drunkenness, quarrels and duels, the care of arms, enlistments, leaves, unit returns, billets, sutlers, provision of carriages, and civil offenses. By a recent act of Parliament the Articles of War for the first time explicitly applied to all American forces acting in conjunction with the British army.

6On 30 June the burgesses passed “an Act for raising the Sum of Six Thousand Pounds by a Lottery, for the further Protection of his Majesty’s Subjects against the Insults and Encroachments of the French.” On 5 July they approved another military defense act. This authorized the raising of additional funds by one-time taxes of 1s. 3d. on every 100 acres of land and 2s. on each tithable slave plus an extra duty of 10 percent on all slaves imported during the next 3 years. Of these monies £2,000 was appropriated for three new ranger companies to patrol the colony’s frontiers, £600 to strengthen the garrison at Fort Cumberland, and £10,000 for Braddock’s expedition (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 , 288, 290; 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 453–68).

7King George II (1683–1760), who visited his German electorate with some regularity, left London for Hanover on 28 April and did not return until 16 Sept. In his absence the regency was dominated by his only surviving son, William Augustus, duke of Cumberland (1721–1765). Although neither regent nor heir apparent, Cumberland was head of a council of advisers without whose consent nothing could be done by the regent, Princess Augusta, widow of George II’s eldest son and mother of the heir to the throne, Prince George, later King George III (1738–1820).

8This unfounded rumor apparently derived from some of Dinwiddie’s London correspondents, who in letters of 29 April 1755 informed him that the ministry was alarmed by a report that 22 French ships were sailing to the west coast of Ireland “with a considerable No. of Forces to make a Descent on that Kingdom” and “that Adm’ls Hawke and Boscawin were sail’d after them” (Dinwiddie to Braddock, 28 June 1755, ViHi: Dinwiddie Papers). No French warships, in fact, left Brest until 3 May when a convoy of 14 ships of the line and 4 frigates, carrying 78 companies of French regulars, sailed for Canada. Edward Boscawen (1711–1761), who had been commissioned a vice admiral in Feb. 1755, left Plymouth on 27 April with a squadron of 11 ships of the line and 2 frigates to intercept this important convoy off the North American coast. On 8 June he captured 2 French ships with 10 companies of regulars aboard, but the other vessels escaped. Sir Edward Hawke (1705–1781), a vice admiral since 1748, did not take to sea with a squadron until July of this year.

9This officer was probably Lachlan Shaw, who resigned a commission in the 25th Regiment of Foot on 20 June 1753 and on 25 Nov. 1754 became a lieutenant in Capt. Raymond Demeré’s South Carolina Independent Company, a position that he held at least until 1760. From South Carolina Shaw brought £2,000 in bills of exchange, the final payment of the £6,000 that the South Carolina Assembly had appropriated for Braddock’s expedition in April. Shaw, however, did not reach Braddock until shortly after the battle of 9 July and found the general dying and Robert Orme “at a loss to know what to do” with the bills (Orme to Dinwiddie, 18 July 1755, in Koontz, Dinwiddie Papers description begins Louis Knott Koontz, ed. Robert Dinwiddie Correspondence illustrative of his Career in American Colonial Government and Westward Expansion. Berkeley, Calif., 1951. description ends , 747).

10A diacritical mark appears above “can” in the manuscript, which may indicate that the word was intended to be “can’t” or “cannot.”

11Capt. Robert Cholmley (Cholmondeley; 1726–1755) of the 48th Regiment, a native of Whitby in Yorkshire, was in the vanguard of Braddock’s army on 9 July and was among the first to die at the Battle of the Monongahela. Lt. Robert Lock of the 44th Regiment was wounded at the battle but recovered to continue serving in the regiment as a lieutenant until 1764.

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