George Washington Papers

To George Washington from George Mason, 12 June 1756

From George Mason

Dogues Neck June 12th 1756

Dear Sir

I take the Liberty to address You on Behalf of my Neighbour & Your old School-fellow, Mr Piper;1 who, without duly considering the Consequences, when he was at Winchester enlisted as a Sarjeant in Capt. Mercer’s Company; he has been down to consult his Father upon it, & finds him excessively averse to it, & as his principal Dependance is upon the old Man (besides the Duty naturally due to a parent) his disobligeing him in an Affair of this Nature cannot but be highly detrimental to Him—I need not then say that it wou’d be an Act of Humanity in Colo. Washington to discharge him. Mr piper tells Me that he has never Yet been attested, which seems so essential a part of the Enlisting that I conceive he cou’d not be legally detain’d against his Will, but has still a Right to depart upon returning whatever Money he may have received—this I only hint, & submit it to Your better Judgement—Be that as it will, Mr Piper woud much rather chuse to receive his Discharge from You as a Favour than insist upon it as a Matter of Right—It wou’d be superfluous to add that Your good Offices to Mr Piper on this Occasion will ever be esteem’d the greatest Obligation on Dr Sir Yr most obdt Servt

G. Mason


George Mason (1725–1792), GW’s lifelong neighbor, was at this time a vestryman of Truro Parish and trustee of the town of Alexandria. His new house, Gunston Hall, was not yet completed, and he was probably still living at his old home on Dogue’s Neck at Sycamore Point, a short distance southwest of his new dwelling.

1GW’s former schoolmate was David Piper, who lived on a 350–acre tract of land on the upper side of Occoquan Creek at what was sometimes called Baxter’s Bay (Release of David and Ann Cox Piper to James Ingoe Dozer, Fairfax County Deeds, Book D, 747–51, Vi Microfilm). This land was on Dogue’s Neck (Mason’s Neck), on the Potomac River between Occoquan and Pohick creeks. David Piper served as a surveyor of roads in Fairfax County from 1758 to 1763 and, although nominated to several other county offices, seems to have been rejected in all cases, possibly because of a contentious character; during the late 1750s and early 1760s his name appears constantly in court cases as either plaintiff or defendant. When Piper died (c.1766), he still owed GW one pound, which he had borrowed in Williamsburg in 1763 (Ledger A, 170).

Piper was probably the son of John Piper of Westmoreland County, who named two sons, Jonathan and David, in his will probated in 1759. The elder Piper owned land in Washington Parish, Westmoreland County, near GW’s birthplace. GW is said to have attended school at the nearby Lower Church of the parish, built at the point where Mattox Creek enters the Potomac River.

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