From Fielding Lewis
Feby 7th 1757.
I recd yours by Mr Buchanan with the Cash to purchase Mrs Buckners Carpenter, but as I am apprehensive there is a Morgage, or some other incumberance as I well know that Estate is much indebt, it will be prudent to Act cautiously least there should be any dispute hereafter; I have already enquir’d about the Carpenter and have been inform’d that he will be sold some time hence but who has the Selling of him I know not, shall be as speedy as possible in letting You know how I succeed.1
Yours by Lieutent Williams I recd with the Cash inclos’d;2 if I fail in the purchase of Buckners Carpenter, I will immediately send mine to your House to carry on your Building till another can be got.3 I am Yr most Humble Servant
John & his Lady went from hence Yesterday on their way to Mr Bushrods.4
ALS, PHi: Gratz Collection.
Fielding Lewis (1725–1781) of Fredericksburg was married to GW’s sister Betty.
1. The letter “by Mr Buchanan” has not been found. Buchanan may be James Buchanan, a Falmouth merchant who was a member, along with GW and Lewis, of the Fredricksburg Lodge of Masons. GW sent Lewis a total of £107 10s. “to purchase a Carpenter” (Ledger A description begins Manuscript Ledger Book 1, 1750-72, in George Washington Papers, Library of Congress. description ends , 35). This Mrs. Buckner is probably Mary Timson Buckner (d. 1787), widow of the Thomas Buckner of Caroline County who died c.1756. She later married Samuel Buckner (d. 1764), also of Caroline County. Besides renting one slave carpenter in 1756 GW bought a slave carpenter named Kitt in February 1755 at a sale of one of the Buckners of Caroline County (ibid., 19, 37). In 1764 GW also bought a slave from the estate of the deceased Samuel Buckner (ibid., 173, 174).
2. GW’s letter “by Lieutent [John] Williams” has not been found.
3. When GW signed the lease for Mount Vernon in December 1754 the home house was a 1½-story frame building measuring 33 × 47 feet with a chimney at either end. It had four rooms and a main hall on the first floor and at least four bedrooms on the second. In 1758 the house was “raised” to 2½ stories and was extensively refurbished. In the spring of 1757 GW ordered from England a number of carpenter’s tools and 222 pounds of paint (see GW to Richard Washington, and enclosed Invoice, both 15 April, and Richard Washington’s Invoice, 20 Aug. 1757).
4. On the cover of the letter, Lewis wrote: “I have given your Express Ten Shillings wch I have charg’d You with, he applying for it being out of Cash.” John Bushrod, the father of John Augustine Washington’s bride, Hannah Bushrod Washington, lived at Bushfield on Nomini Creek in Westmoreland County.