George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Joseph Valentine, 21–23 November 1770

From Joseph Valentine

Novr 21st [–23] 1770

Sir

I this day set off Mr Guys1 Vessell with your negros she did not get hear So soon ass I Expected them by their Letter by ten days they tel me they ware drove to Norfolk a Coming over the Bay they Bring you 500 Bushels of oats

the freight 3d. pr Bushel £ 6. 5.0
and 16 negros @ 15/ pr head 12. 0.0
<mutilated> 1 <39> lb. of Cotten 1.15.0
and 167 lb. of wool from King Wm @ 35/ 2.   .0
Sam Kitt Cupit parros Ceaser moll Bettey ha<nna>h Lucey moll dafney doll Brumswick & Jamy fanney old Brumswick <& alce> 16 & 6 Children poll Billey Suckey <Cloe> Rachal & Janey 22 in all—Sir whilst I was writeing the other Letter that Comes by the vessell and <the> above <heare> parros went off though he seemd to be ass willing and Ready to Come ass any off the Rest I went immediate in serch for <him> but Cant find or h<ear> any thing of him sence the negros & their things fild up the <Vessell> so full that their was not Room to put any thing Else a board the vessel wai<ted> the after noon and night for me to try if I Cud get parros but ass I Cud not they Came off with the Rest which is 15 of the Bigest and 6 Children2—please to Let me no what I must do with parros if I do get him.

I thought it not proper to pay the freight tel the negros and other things was deliverd please to give them an order on me for the money if you dont pay it—we have got Sum of our tobaco prisd but I Cant heare of any Ship <yet that will mutilated> it to mr Carey our tobaco fired so bad that it turns out in striping very porely—our Famileys has ben very Sickley this fall have no more to add at present but Remain Sir your most hble Sert

Jos. Valentine3

ALS, ViHi: Custis Papers. The letter was sent, “<By> post to A<le>xandra.”

1This was probably Henry Guy, a Northampton County merchant.

2GW was bringing up some of his dower slaves from his dower plantations in Tidewater Virginia, some of whom he was to put upon his new Ferry farm at Mount Vernon. Ferry farm was made up of the 200–acre tract purchased from John West, Jr., in September 1770, the 200–acre plot acquired from John Posey at his October 1769 sale, and the disputed 6–acre strip containing Posey’s ferry, which GW rented from Posey on 23 April 1770 until he could purchase it in June 1772. On 11 June 1769 GW wrote Posey asking the price of the 200 acres Posey had purchased in 1759 from Charles Washington. GW told Posey that he wanted the land because he had “it now in my power to Rent out some Lands which I hold near Williamsburg but durst not do it . . . unless I coud be upon a certainty of a place (in this Neighbourhood, where I want to draw all my force to) to put some of the Hands upon; there being too many to distribute among my other Quarters.” The General Court had just given permission, in May 1769, for GW to rent his dower lands in York County (Ship Landing and Bridge Quarter) to John Parke Custis. See Petition to the General Court, c.4 May 1769, n.5. Many of the names of slaves appearing in this letter can be found on the lists of the dower slaves in Settlement of the Daniel Parke Custis Estate, 30 April 1759–6 November 1761, doc. III-A and Appendix F, printed above.

Parros (Peros), who ran away from Valentine rather than to be put on the ship to Mount Vernon, seems to be the same Parros who ran away from Dogue Run farm at Mount Vernon in 1761 and who had lived at Mount Vernon from 1761 through 1764; he undoubtedly is the same “Peiras” who appears later on a 1771 list of GW’s slaves at Claiborne’s in King William County. The Cupid mentioned in this letter is not the slave of that name who ran away with Parros in 1771; the runaway was not a dower slave (Advertisement of Runaway Slaves, 11 Aug. 1761; Slaves Belonging to George Washington and John Parke Custis, enclosed in Burwell Bassett to GW, 25 Dec. 1771; and the tithable lists for 1761–66). Of the sixteen adult slaves named in Valentine’s letter, eight (Cupid, Caesar, Moll, Hannah, Bettey, Lucy, Daphne, and Doll) appear on GW’s 1771 Truro Parish tithable list as living on the new Ferry farm. An Alce also appears for the first time among the house servants and Sam Kit may be the Sam who appears for the first time on the 1771 list of workers at the ferry. The six children would not appear on the tithable lists until 16 years of age. Sam Kit and several of the other slaves from the dower plantations also appear on GW’s 1786 list of slaves at the Ferry farm as does Brunswick (denoted as “Ruptured”) on Dogue Run farm (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 4:280–82). GW’s tithable list for 1771 shows a total of fourteen more slaves in Truro Parish than in 1770. See Memorandum: List of Tithables, 16 July 1770 and 14 June 1771.

3On the cover of the letter GW has made a list of different currencies and the amounts of each.

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