George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Capel & Osgood Hanbury, 12 June 1759

To Capel & Osgood Hanbury

Virginia 12th June 1759


It will be needless I presume, unless it be for Formsake, to tell you so long after the thing has happend, of my Marriage with Mrs Martha Custis; you doubtless have heard of it before this can reach you, but as I thought proof might be requisite I sent over the Ministers certificate (which I was told was sufficient testimony) to Messr Cary & Compa. and to that I also refer you for your further satisfaction on this point.

I must now desire that you will please to address all your Letters which relate to the Affairs of the Deceasd Colo. Custis to me as by Marriage I am entitled to a third part of that Estate, and invested with the care of the other two thirds by a Decree of our Genl Court which I obtaind in order to strengthen the power I before had in Consequence of my Wifes Administration.1

Your several Letters of last Year that are unanswerd bearing date the 6th July, 12th Septr and 26th Decr now lye before me, and I shall take notice of them accordingly;2 but give me leave in the first place to condole with you—& I do it very sincerely, on the Death of yr Relation and Partner, John Hanbury Esqr.—The 28 Hogsheads Tobacco Shipd you pr the King of Prussia has not only fallen short very greatly of the Sales of those Consignd Mr Cary, but even of your own Sales in other Years which I am the more Surprizd at as Tobo was scarce that year and I assurd by the Managers of that belonging to the Estate that it passd thro. their hands in the same good Order as usual, and that it was of the same kind and Quality.3

I hope your next will account for the Tobo taken in the Anna Pink which I think has long remaind in an undeterminate State.4

Dunbars Lawsuit is again brought to Virginia—what the Reports might be that were spread to your prejudice I really know not, for my own part I shoud never harbour a Suspicion of any Gentn who is chargd with the management of a Suit of that Importance—It woud be very dis-engenuous, & dishonourable— give it no worse a name—first to undertake; and then neglect a Cause that so nearly Affects the Interest of a distant friend, and Antient Corrispondant and therefore you stand fully acquitted in my Eye.5

The exceeding Short Crops of Tobo last Year render’s it impractacable for me to Ship you any this Summer6—next, as things wears a favourable aspect at present I shall possibly have it in my power to do it. but give me leave to add here, that Duty to the charge which I am entrusted as well as self Interest will induce me to abide by the Merchants who Shews the greatest Exertion in the Sales of my own and the Estates Tobo which will be made under the same direction, and without altering the kind or manner of treating it unless you can advise a better method of making it sell well.

I cannot help expressing some little Surprize at not receiving your Acct Currt with the Estate when I find it requird in almost every Letter that has been wrote you since Colo. Custis’s Death and as often promisd by you—I must once more require in the strongest terms that it may be sent half yearly from the time of that Gentlemans Death, that by comparing these with his Books I may be able to make out clear and Satisfactory Accts to Our Genl Court and that they also be punctualy sent Spring and Fall for the time to come.7 I am Gentn Yr Most Obedt Hble Servt

Go: Washington

LB, in GW’s hand, DLC:GW.

John Hanbury & Co., along with Robert Cary & Co., handled nearly all of the business for the Custises in England for many years. The head of the firm, John Hanbury (1700–1758), a Quaker, was a prominent and influential London merchant whom Daniel Parke Custis engaged to defend his interest after the Dunbar case was revived in London in 1750. (For the Dunbar case, see doc. I, n.5, in Settlement of the Daniel Parke Custis Estate, 20 April 1759–5 Nov. 1761.) After John Hanbury’s death his partners continued the firm under the name of Capel & Osgood Hanbury. Robert Cary & Co. wrote Martha Custis on 17 July 1758: “Mr John Hanbury departed this Life the 23d Ulto & while he lived we coud not ask for the Enlargement of your Consignments [of tobacco], but now as things are Differently ⟨cir⟩cumstanced we may safely do it & as such we hope ⟨in⟩ the future to receive all your Crops, for it is Evidend the less hands Tobacco goes in the greater Probability there is of keeping up a Living Price & therefore must naturally be productive of our Friends Interest” (ViHi: Custis Papers).

2The three letters from the Hanburys in 1758 are in the Custis Papers, ViHi. Martha Custis wrote John Hanbury & Co. three times in 1758, on 30 April, 1 June, and 1 September. A copy of her letter of 1 June is in the Custis Papers.

3Daniel Parke Custis shipped the twenty-eight hogsheads to John Hanbury & Co. in the King of Prussia before his death (Martha Custis to Hanbury, 1 June 1758). Hanbury sold twenty of these hogsheads in December 1757 for £288.19.9 and the other eight for £138.10.1 in 1758 (Hanbury’s account with Daniel Parke Custis, 1 Sept. 1759, in ViHi: Custis Papers).

4Martha Custis sent seventeen hogsheads of tobacco in the pink, Anna, in the spring of 1758 (ibid.). The Anna was captured by the French at Bayonne and seven days later retaken by three privateers out of Bristol. The claims of the privateers were not settled until after the end of the year. The seventeen hogsheads were sold in April 1759, and the Custis estate netted only £64.3.9. See the three letters GW had “before me” (n.2); the summary of the Custis estate’s current account, 24 June 1757 to 1 Sept. 1759, in note 2 of Capel & Osgood Hanbury to GW, 1 Oct. 1759; and GW to Capel & Osgood Hanbury, 10 Aug. 1760, n.2.

5For the Dunbar case, see doc. I, n.5, in Settlement of the Daniel Parke Custis Estate, 20 April 1759–5 Nov. 1761. The partners of John Hanbury, who handled the case for Daniel Parke Custis and later for Martha Custis as it was being reviewed in London, wrote Martha Custis on 12 Sept. 1758: “Wee are Inform’d that Thee has been told by Some Person in the Country, that Something (what Wee Can’t Learn) might have been done by us, that was not done. Wee Shall be glad to know if ⟨th⟩ee had any Such Information, & what it was, that thereby Wee may have an Opportunity to Convince Thee, That that Person knew Nothing of the Matter, or else did it with a Veiw to prejudice us in thy Esteem. Wee Can truly Say no Endeavours was Wanting in that affair, & very Thoughtfully & Anxiously attended it, and will Continue to Render the Family in this or any other affair all the Service in Our Power” (ViHi: Custis Papers).

7Capel & Osgood Hanbury enclosed its account with Daniel Parke Custis and his estate to 1 Sept. 1759 in the letter to GW of 1 Oct. 1759. It showed a balance due from the Custis estate of £11.13.6.

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