George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Gizzage Frazer, 16 March 1773

From John Gizzage Frazer

King William C[our]t Ho[use] Mch 16th 1773


I shou’d have spoke to you on Sunday last as you returned from Williamsbg concerning your suit against me in our Court, but had desired Mr Wm Aylett to speak to you when at Wmsburge and not hereing from him prevented me: I am not able at this time to discharge my Debts, meeting with several misfortunes at Sea and elsewhere has occasioned it, and am now prevented from going about my business, keeps me from geting in anyway to discharge my Debts so soon as I wish. I have a Letter of License on foot only to give me Liberty three year’s to pay up, which I am sure of doing if I have my Liberty and Health; every Gentleman I have applyed to yet has willingly signed it, and hope you will signify as much to Mr Lyons or me by a line,1 wch will infinitely oblige y⟨r Hble Servt

J. G. Framutilated

ALS, DLC:GW. The letter is mutilated and the closing and signature in angle brackets are taken from Hamilton, Letters to Washington description begins Stanislaus Murray Hamilton, ed. Letters to Washington and Accompanying Papers. 5 vols. Boston and New York, 1898–1902. description ends , 4:187.

John Gizzage (Grizzage) Frazer of King William County had been a partner of Richard Trimlett in the West Indies trade. Their business was at West Point, at the confluence of the Pamunkey and Mattaponi rivers, but the business was bankrupt and the partnership dissolved in 1770. Frazer is probably the John Gizzage (Grizzage) Frazer who later served in the Revolution. See Papers, Revolutionary Series description begins W. W. Abbot et al., eds. The Papers of George Washington, Revolutionary War Series. 22 vols. to date. Charlottesville, Va., 1985—. description ends , 1:201.

1“Sunday last” was 14 Mar., the day GW dined at King William Court House on his way home from Williamsburg.

William Aylett (1743–c.1781) of Fairfield, King William County, was a member of the House of Burgesses. A letter of license was a written agreement, signed by all the “creditors of a failing or embarrassed debtor in trade,” granting him an extension of time for payment of his debts; it allowed him in the meantime to carry on his business in the hope of recuperation and protected him from arrest, suit, or other interference during this time (Black’s Law Dictionary description begins Henry Campbell Black. Black’s Law Dictionary: Definitions of the Terms and Phrases of American and English Jurisprudence, Ancient and Modern. Rev. 4th ed. St. Paul, 1968. description ends ). Frazer seems to have been in prison at this time. In ViHi: Custis Papers is a bill from King William County clerk Edward Berkeley to GW for expenses accruing from the suit against Frazer from April to August 1773. Included are a “Capias,” or writ of attachment or arrest, and special bail. The bill was receipted on 8 June 1774 by J⟨no.⟩ Watkins who received the money from James Hill. For earlier reference to Frazer’s debt, see James Hill to GW, 14 May 1772. For later developments in Frazer’s case, see William Aylett to GW, 26 Feb. 1775, and GW to Aylett, 6 Mar. 1775.

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