George Washington Papers

III. Report of the Commissioners to Settle the Estate, c.October 1759


Report of the Commissioners to Settle the Estate

[c.October 1759]

In Obedience to the Order of the General Court made the 28th of April in the Year 1759 we have allotted and Assignd Mrs Martha Washington her Dower in the Lands and Slaves of her late Husband Daniel Parke Custis Esqr. deceasd as will appear by a Schedule hereunto annexd (marked A.)1

We have also Stated a general Account of the Estate of the said Daniel Parke Custis2 Esqr. decd from the several Inventories thereof and having compard the same with the Sales of the Estate as carefully as we were able it being Impossible to do the same with exactness by Reason of the many Lumping Articles in the said Inventories We discoverd several Errors on both sides the Account, but the same being equal within Fifty shillings was to the prejudice of George Washington Esqr. we with his consent to prevent stating the whole Account over again have agreed to Report the Account (markd B)3 hereunto annexd as the General Account of the said Estate.

We have likewise ⟨in⟩ the Schedule hereunto annexd (markd C) stated the seperate Accounts4 of ⟨the⟩ said George Washington in right of his Wife and of John and ⟨Martha Custis the⟩ two Children of the said Daniel Parke Custis according to ⟨the Division⟩ of the Estate made between them which in our op⟨inion is the fair⟩est and most equal Division thereof th⟨at coul⟩d be m⟨ade as the Accou⟩nts have been so intermixd that it ⟨wo⟩ud be ⟨impossible to distinguis⟩h the several Articles with any certainty.

dated Signd Peyton Randolph
Bernard Moore
Burwell Bassett
Philip Whitehead Claiborne5

D, ViLxW: Washington’s Account Book; Df, ViHi: Custis Papers. This is the first of the documents relating to the settlement of the Custis estate that GW copied in the account book described in the Editorial Note, 20 April 1759–5 Nov. 1761. It is mutilated in part and faded. Missing words and letters are supplied in angle brackets from the copy in the Custis Papers. Mercer’s copy, which seems to be a draft that he made for the commissioners’ approval and signature, begins with the reference to the general account of the estate rather than with a reference to the assignment of Martha Washington’s share, as in GW’s copy. At the end of Mercer’s copy another writer makes a new beginning in which he refers to the schedule of Mrs. Washington’s dower in land and slaves in much the same words as those used here. The draft is in John Mercer’s hand; a number of insertions, or word changes, in that copy are in GW’s hand; and the new beginning at the bottom of the Mercer copy or draft is in the hand of a third person. The copy in the Account Book is, of course, in GW’s hand.

1This is doc. III-A. For a description of Martha Washington’s dower rights, see doc. II, n.3.

2The general account of the estate is doc. III-B.

3In the draft, “A” was written over to make it “B.” The “several Inventories” on which the general estate account was based were the individual county inventories (doc. III-A–1).

4These are docs. III-C–1, III-C–2, and III-C–3. In the draft “B” was written over to make it “C.”

5Peyton Randolph was attorney general of the colony. The planters Philip W. Claiborne and Bernard Moore, both of King William County, and Burwell Bassett of New Kent County, were all indebted to the Custis estate for large loans from Martha Custis. Bassett also was Martha Washington’s brother-in-law. See doc. III-B and notes.

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