George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Gilbert Simpson, 5 October 1772

From Gilbert Simpson

Lowdoun October the 5: 1772

Honoured Sr

I am informd you have not purchast Mr Fairfaxs and Thralkels Lands the which I was in hopes you had for then I Should have Expected to have Leest Summore a joining to my loot which is Quite two Small as it is1 but Sr I hope thes lines will Find you in perfect good helth and bee kindly Receivd by your honour it is now I am going to inform you Sr of what I have been perposeing and thinking of perposeing to you as you have a plenty of good lands lying out at red Stone and unsetled I would undertak to Settle it in pardnership with you on terms of this kind which is for me to find three or foor workeing hands and as many breeding mairs and the same number or more of Cous and other Stock in perpotion Sr if you Should think proper to join this with the Same Quntity of hands and Stock and Could Confer the Charge of the Same to me I Should think it my greatest duty to discharge the Same with the utmost Care and onnesty and as the land is so good for indion Corn and meadows I make no dowt but it would in a Fwe years add Sumthing ⟨worth⟩ to your Fortune and a Reasonable Compency of good liveing to my Self Sr if these lines Should have the good Sucksees to fiend you as I hope they will in a little time I pray you would send me answer by the first opertainity2 So Sr I remain your humble Servant

Gilbt Simpson


As a youth Gilbert Simpson, Jr., lived on Clifton Neck where his father leased land from GW. Simpson himself rented a parcel of land at Mount Vernon in 1760. After living for some time in the Pohick area of Fairfax County, Simpson moved, probably in about 1769, to Loudoun County, where at this time he was leasing land (Ledger A description begins Manuscript Ledger Book 1, 1750-72, in George Washington Papers, Library of Congress. description ends , 81, 300). Before Christmas 1772, GW and Simpson formed the partnership that Simpson is suggesting here, and in late March or early April 1773 Simpson went out to Washington’s Bottom on the Youghiogheny, with supplies and three slaves to begin clearing land and plant corn as a first step in settling GW’s Pennsylvania land. Simpson’s wife had refused to accompany him, and Simpson quickly became dissatisfied. He informed GW that he would not move to Washington’s Bottom after all and returned to Loudoun County in June 1773. See Simpson to GW, 26 Dec. 1772, 11 April, 20 May, 14 June 1773, and GW to Simpson, 23 Feb. 1773; see also note 2. Whether because of GW’s angry words or because his wife had a change of heart, or for other reasons, Simpson went back to Washington’s Bottom in the early fall 1773, taking his family with him. See Simpson to GW, July, 31 Aug., 1 Oct. 1773. In his letters to GW during the next eighteen months when he was not asking for money to pay the costs of building the mill on the Youghiogheny, Simpson was defending himself against GW’s charges of extravagance and inefficiency (Simpson to GW, 4 May, 20 Aug., 24 Sept., 9 Nov., 18 Dec. 1774, 6 Feb. 1775). The mill still was not finished in 1775 when GW left to become commander of the American forces in Boston, and Lund Washington recorded only one payment for GW from Simpson during the war (Ledger B description begins Manuscript Ledger Book 2, 1772-93, in George Washington Papers, Library of Congress. description ends , 138). In 1784 shortly after his return home, GW began writing Simpson of his intention to put an end to what he considered a very unsatisfactory partnership, and in September 1784 GW went up to Washington’s Bottom, settled his accounts with Simpson, and advertised the mill and land for rent (see GW to Simpson, 13 Feb., 10 July 1784, and Simpson to GW, 27 April, 31 July 1784; see also Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 4:1–25).

1“Thralkel” is probably Threlkeld. For reference to the land in Loudoun County that Bryan Fairfax offered to GW, see Fairfax to GW, 20 Jan. 1772, n.1.

2In 1769 William Crawford completed the survey for GW of a 1,644–acre tract of land on the Youghiogheny River near Pittsburgh, the first land that GW acquired to the west of the Alleghenys, known as Washington’s Bottom. See GW to Crawford, 17 Sept. 1767, n.2, and Crawford to GW, 7 Jan. 1769. Neither GW’s response to Simpson’s proposal nor the text of the document forming the partnership between the two for developing Washington’s Bottom has been found, but Simpson’s letter of 26 Dec. 1772 reveals that by that time he and GW had agreed on terms. See source note.

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