George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Robert Adam, 22 November 1771

To Robert Adam

Mount Vernon 22d Novr 1771


In case of your going to England I should be obliged to you for using your Endeavours to purchase for me the Rights of Captns Robt Stobo & Jacob Vanbraam, to part of the 200,000 Acres of Land claimd by the Officers and Soldiers under Governor Dinwiddies Proclamation of the 19th of Feby 1754 which, by a late determination of the Governor and Council will be, if got at all, Nine thousd Acres to each of these Gentlemen.1

For neither of these shares would I give above an hundd pounds Sterlg at the Utmost because there is, in the first place a chance of our never getting the Land at all as it cannot yet be foreseen what difficulties we are to meet with from the Members of the Proprietary Governmt to the Westward of us; who have, it is said obtaind an actual Grant of the Country we are Surveying In2—In the next place if we do get them it is under every disadvantage and discouragement that the nature of the thing can possibly be attended with for instead of getting one half of the Land Contiguous to Pittsburg as we were entitled to do by Proclamation & where it would be valuable we are obliged to go 300 Miles below, and take the Land in large Tracts by wch means, & the Nature of the Country, we must necessarily Include a large portion of bad Land as we are confind to 20 Surveys & have made 10 of them in the most extensive bodies of good Ld we cd find & have not got near one third of our qty which besides the hardship of compellg us to receive, will be attendd with much difficulty & great discontent at a division as it is almost impossible to divide the good & the bad in eql proportn amg the differt Claimts; add to this, that we are obligd to be at a dble expence; first in Survg the whole qty & then each Man saddled with the charge of layg of his own part seperately wch by the by appears to be subjected to the Manifest Inconvenience of being held in the Nature of a joint Interest & consequently no Man ascertaind of his particulr spot till the whole are ready & willing to divide, for which reason it is, I incline to buy, in order that this Inconv[ienc]e may be lessen’d by the principal Shares getting into fewer hands, & because hitherto the principal share of the advance (which has been upwards of £200) and almost the whole trouble has fallen upon me, otherwise I must have given up every hope of my own—Under these Circumstances which are justly and truely related I think those who have contributed nothing towards bearing the trouble, or expense of this business (among whom Stobo & Vanbraam are two) cannot expect much for their Shares & therefore I would give a trifle in order to take the chance of gaining as well as loosing as I must carry on the Work—Whatever Sums you agree for (& I have no doubts of yr purchag upon the best terms you can) I have desired Robt Cary Esqr. & Co. to pay;3 & I shall be much obligd to you for any trouble you may be at & will thankfully repay all expences.

I have furthr to request the favr of yo., if it shd happen in yr way, to procure me a good Gardner; they, as well as other Tradesmen are frequently I am told to be had upon Indenture—Captn Jno. Johnstoun I know used to bring in more or less every yr in this manr, and sell them in the Country. I do not want one of yr fine fellows—a Man that can lay of a Garden, & will work hard in it afterwds, & who knows how to Sow Seeds in their proper Seasons is all that I desire. In short a good Kitchen Gardner is what I want—If he understd something of Fruit Trees & could Graft and Innoculate so much the better.4

The Gun herewith sent please to have handsomely Stockd—let the Stock be of the same Bend, & Substance at the Britch as the old one—The Barl to be sealed and properly cleansd on the Inside & to have a new Lock of a piece with the Barl—the whole to be done in a compleat mannr—with a pair of Bullet Moulds.

A Neat Slip Cane, with a gold head (not expens⟨iv⟩e) with my Arms engravd thereon—Also a Plate with my Arms engravd & 4 or 500 Copies struck—A White Agate Stone fixd in the gold Socket sent with the Custis’s Arms engravd thereon for Mr Custis to whom it is to be chargd5—Heartily wishg you a pleast Voyage &ca I am with gt Esteem Dr Sr Yr Most Obedt Servt

Go: Washington


GW sent to London by Adam his letters to George Mercer, 7 and 22 Nov., to Robert Cary & Co., 22 Nov., to Robert Stobo and to Jacob Van Braam, both 22 Nov., and to Osgood Hanbury & Co., 14 December. The text of the letter to Stobo and to Van Braam is printed here in note 1 and that to Cary as note 3. The text of the letter of introduction to Hanbury is: “The bearer of this Mr Robt Adam, a Mercht of Alexandria on Potomack River & a friend and Acquaintance of mine going to London I have taken the liberty of recommending him to your Notice, and shall think myself obligd in any Civilities you may shew him being Gentn Yr Most Obedt Hble Servt G. Washington” (ALB, DLC:GW).

1See GW to George Mercer, 7 November. GW made the following copy in his letter book of his letters to Robert Stobo and Jacob Van Braam of this date: “Your claim to a share of the 200,000 Acres of Land under Governor Dinwiddies Proclamation has been entered, and the Governor and Council have settled the proportion’s which shall fall to each Man’s Lott (according to the Rank he enterd the Service with) by which each Field Officer is allowed 15,000 Acres—each Captain 9,000—each Subaltern 6,000—each Cadet 2,500—A Sergeant 600—a Corpol 500—and each private soldier 400 Acres a piece.

“The Solliciting this matter with some other expences that have attended the prosecuting of our Claim have cost a few Individuals upwards of £200 already and instead of getting one half the Land contiguous to the Forks of Monongahela (now Fort Pitt) where they are of some value, we are obliged to go down the Ohio near 300 Miles lower and take the Land in twenty Surveys, by which means, and the Nature of that Country which you know is very hilly and broken, we shall be obliged to include a large portion of bad Land so as not only to render the Grant of little value but will create a good deal of discontent at a division as it is absolutely impossible to make an equal distribution of the good & bad, nor divide it by Lott as differt Ranks are entitled to different quantities, and when all is done what plague and trouble we are yet to meet with from the Proprietors of the New Governmt to the Westward of us whose Grant Includes every Inch of the Land we are expecting under our Order of Council I know not time only can Reveal it.

“The expence attending this Grant of Ours, is in a manner but Just beginning as we have not Surveyed a third part of the Lands yet, and are laid under the Inconvenience & hardship of first exploring the Country, then Surveying our whole quantity in twenty Surveys, and after that each Man his particular quantity seperately—A Grievance we have labourd much to get removd, but could not, It is therefore Incumbant upon you to appoint an Agent here to attend to your Interest in these Lands; who should be enabled to contribute your proportion of the expence, for without money the business cannot go forward even if the way was Smooth much less where there are difficulties in every Stage of it.

“What I have here said will just serve to give you some Idea of this Affair; to relate the whole proceedings, with the troubles and Vexation’s that have accompanied them in Stating our Claims, drawing Petitions, presenting Memorials &ca &ca would require a Volume and afford little entertainment I shall therefore only add that I am Dr sir Yr Most Obedt Servt Go: Washington.

“Note, A Letter of the same date of the above, and word for word with it, I also wrote to Captn Jacob Vanbraam—& sent them both—together with the foregoing & following by Mr Robt Adam” (ALB, DLC:GW).

2He is referring to the Walpole Company.

3The text of the letter to Robert Cary & Co. of this date is: “I have Commissioned the bearer of this Mr Robert Adam a friend and Acquaintance of mine and one who I beg leave to recommend to your Notice to purchase on my Acct the Rights of two Officers to certain Shares of a Tract of Land granted by Govr Dinwiddies Proclamation in 1754 to the Troops that engaged in the Service of this Colony at that time—If he does this he may possibly have a call for about One hundred and fifty pounds Sterling to pay for them which I beg the favour of you to advance him on my account, charging me Interest thereon; or, if you have any unwillingness to do this, I then request that the money may be paid out of Mr Custis’s money in your hands and I shall allow him Interest for it here.

“Mr Adam has also one or two other little Commission’s to execute for me which possibly may require from Ten to Twenty Guineas—this Sum you will please to advance on my Account also—among I have requested him to get me a Gardner, if one of an orderly, and Sober behaviour can be had upon good terms your advise in procuring of one may be of Service both to him and me and will merit my thanks as I am a good deal in want of one. Captns of Ships (Johnstoun in particular) I know make a practise of engaging Tradesmen of different kinds upon Indenture for four or five years and bring them over from whence I conclude a Gardner may be had in the same way but rather than fail I would give moderate wages—I do not desire any of your fine fellows who will content themselves with Planning of work, I want a Man that will labour hard, knowing at the sametime how to keep a Garden in good order and Sow Seed in their proper Seasons in ground that he has prepard well for the reception of them” (ALB, DLC:GW).

4Inoculation, or budding, is the process of inserting a bud from one shrub or tree under the bark of another in order to raise flowers or fruit different from those of the stock. Robert Cary & Co. were unable to secure a gardener for GW in London. See GW to Cary, 15 July 1772. See also note 3.

5Adam sent the following invoice to GW from London, dated 28 Mar. 1772:

“Sundries purchasd & sent by Mr Robert Adam in the Martha

Rawlins &ca
1 Cane 1. 0.0
Jno. Payne
A gold Cane head 4. 0.0
a pr of gold Pipes . 4.0
Engravg a Coat of Arms . 6. 
S. Valliscure
Engravg Arms on a Plate .14.0
To Strikg 300 Prints . 6. 
Wm Wilson
In a Case . 2. 
A neat fowlg ps. Londn proovd
4 feet blew Barl, ¾ bore
Bridle lock & brass furns. 4. 0.0
1 pr Bullet Moulds . 1. 
New stockg a fowling ps. & best dble bridle lock 1. 8. 
Cleang & Repg the old Lock . 2. 
 £12. 3. 

Note, The above Gun & Bullet Moulds for Mr Ld Washington” (ALB, in GW’s hand, DLC:GW).

Rawlins & Barron were tobacconists at 201 Borough; Stephen Vallescure was a jeweler at 2 Change Alley, Basinghall St.; and William Wilson & Co. were gunmakers at Minories, all in London.

Index Entries