George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Robert Cary & Company, 10 March 1768

To Robert Cary & Company

Mount Vernon March 10th 1768.


This Letter will, I expect, be delivered to you by Mr Walter Magowan, who for many years has livd in my Family a Tutor to Master & Miss Custis, and now comes to England to get admittance into Holy Orders—Any little Civilities therefore which you may occasionally shew him during his short stay there, or assistance give, woud be very obliging as he is perfectly a Stranger, and may need a little Introduction, althô he comes provided with proper Certificates &ca to the Bishop.1

He has Fifty pounds Sterling due to him on Acct of his last years Wages, which please to pay and charge equally to Master & Miss Custis—Besides this you will please to advance him any Sum on the particular Acct of Master Custis not exceeding Forty pounds Sterlg with which he is to purchase Sundry Books &ca for the young Gentleman and other things for his Musick Master2 &ca who having commissiond Mr Magowan on this head desird he might have a credit to answer the purposes—Whatever money therefore you may advance in consequence of this order you will please to charge as I have just directed because I shall know what Sum to Debit each party with, & what to give him Credit for, when I come to settle with Mr Magowan upon his return wch is intended to be in a very short space of time.

Having a very good oppertunity a few days ago directly from my own door to the Madeira & back I desird Messrs Scott, Pringle, Cheape and Company to send me a Butt of Wine, & one or two & ⟨other⟩ trifling things, and draw upon you for the amount which I hope will be paid.3

Captn Johnstown is arrivd, but having been Sometime in York and James River I have not got my Goods by him, though hourly expect them.4 At present I shall add nothing more than that I am Gentn Yr Most Hble Servt

Go: Washington


1Walter Magowan, who had been the schoolmaster of the Custis children, was promised in 1767 the rectorship of Frederick Parish, Frederick County, upon his ordination by the bishop of London. At his return from England, however, he instead became rector of St. James Parish at Herring Bay in Anne Arundel County, Md., from where he was a frequent visitor to Mount Vernon. See GW to Jonathan Boucher, 26 Jan. 1769.

2During the 1760s and 1770s the German music master, John Stadler (Stedler; died c.1799), traveled around the Northern Neck of Virginia giving music lessons to the children of well-to-do planters. Philip Fithian, tutor of Robert Carter’s children at Nomini Hall, wrote this of “Mr Stadley the Musician” in July 1774: “I love this good German, He used to teach in New York & Philadelphia—He has much simplicity & goodness of heart—He performs extremely well—He is kind & sociable with me” (Farish, Fithian’s Diary description begins Hunter Dickinson Farish, ed. Journal & Letters of Philip Vickers Fithian, 1773–1774: A Plantation Tutor of the Old Dominion. Williamsburg, Va., 1943. description ends , 182). The next year Landon Carter of Sabine Hall noted in his diary that “old Stadler, the musick master,” had dined with him and had amused himself reading Carter’s books (Greene, Landon Carter Diary description begins Jack P. Greene, ed. The Diary of Colonel Landon Carter of Sabine Hall, 1752–1778. 2 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1965. description ends , 944). An experienced soldier, Stadler served during the Forbes campaign of 1758 as a lieutenant in John Armstrong’s Pennsylvania regiment and in 1759 as an assistant to Capt. Harry Gordon in the building of Fort Pitt. In 1776 on GW’s recommendation he was made first engineer in the southern department of the Continental army with the rank of captain and later in the year entered the Virginia service as an engineer with the rank of lieutenant colonel, a position he held for less than a year before resigning (see Stadler to GW, 13 April 1777, 4 May 1778, DLC:GW, and Stadler to GW, 25 Oct. 1791, 15 Feb. 1792, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters).

3GW ordered the wine on 23 February. The word “other” is taken from Fitzpatrick, Writings description begins John C. Fitzpatrick, ed. The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745–1799. 39 vols. Washington, D.C., 1931–44. description ends , 2:483.

4See Invoice from Robert Cary & Co., 29 Oct. 1767. GW received the goods at Mount Vernon on 16 Mar. 1768 (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 2:50).

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