George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Fielding Lewis, 29 December 1772–28 February 1773

From Fielding Lewis

[c.29 December 1772–February 1773]

Dear Sir

The post just leaving Town I have only time to inform you that I have rented your Houses & the Land between the road & River to Mr Fitzhugh for £22.10.0 per Ann: with liberty to get Fencing from the Land Mr Hunter want the other field next to him I shall go over in order to agree with him tho’ I think the better way is not to rent the other part nor will I conclude the bargain ’till next post when I may know yr opinion.1 I shall observe yr directions with regard to the Mr Mercers Negro⟨s⟩ am on my way to the Sale now.2 Corn is plenty the price 12/6 no purchasers, no wheat to be sold, I have parted with all my bread & Flour at 15/ Cash Credt to Apl Court have heard Flour has fallen something at No[r]folk tho’ I dont believe it the price wheat has rais’d at Philadelphia & Baltimore consequently Flour cannot fall shall write you next post I am Dr Sir yr most Affectionate Hume Servt

Fielding Lewis

ALS, ViMtvL. Lewis was “on my way” to James Mercer’s sale of slaves, the first of which was set for 29 Dec. 1772 and the second, for 3 Feb. 1773. Because the entry in Ledger B description begins Manuscript Ledger Book 2, 1772-93, in George Washington Papers, Library of Congress. description ends , 92, suggests that he had rented “the other field” to James Hunter, Sr., in January before the February sale, it is assumed that he was on his way to the sale of 29 Dec. when he wrote this letter.

1The following advertisement appeared in Rind’s Virginia Gazette (Williamsburg) on 5 Nov. 1772: “To be Sold, Rented, or Exchanged, for back lands in any of the northern counties in this colony,

“A TRACT of six hundred acres, including about two hundred of cleared land on the north side of Rappahannock river, opposite to the lower end of Fredericksburg. On this tract (a little above the road) is one of the most agreeable situations for a house that is to be found upon the whole river, having a clear and distinct view of almost every house in the said town, and every vessel that passes to and from it. Long credit, if desired, will be given, the purchaser paying interest from the sale; and an indisputable title will be made. For further particulars enquire of Col. Lewis in Fredericksburg, or the Subscriber in Fairfax. GEORGE WASHINGTON.” William Fitzhugh rented Ferry Farm for two years, in 1773 and 1774, for £22.10 per annum; and James Hunter rented “a field adj[oinin]g” for the year 1773 for £10 (Ledger B description begins Manuscript Ledger Book 2, 1772-93, in George Washington Papers, Library of Congress. description ends , 65, 92). Both Fitzhugh and Hunter farmed land adjoining Ferry Farm.

2The 29 Dec. sale featured “THIRTY SIX choice SLAVES,” among which were “an elderly but very valuable HOUSE SERVANT, capable of waiting on a Gentleman’s Person, managing a Garden and Stud, and used to drive a Coach” (Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon; Williamsburg], 10 Dec. 1772). Because of short notice, the sale was poorly attended and another sale was scheduled for 3 Feb. 1773 when additional slaves were offered (Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon; Williamsburg], 7 Jan. 1773). No evidence has been found that GW purchased a slave at either sale.

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