George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Richard Henry Lee, 21 October 1773

From Richard Henry Lee

Belle View the 21st of October 1773


My brother & myself had proposed paying our respects to you at Mount Vernon, but were prevented, by being informed, that on the day we proposed seeing you, it was probable you would be set off for Williamsburg. And again, yesterday I failed to meet with you in Fredericksburg, whither I went for that purpose.1 You have inclosed your brothers will, with the Attorneys opinion on the back of it—By which you will see that he thinks the late Mrs Lee not answerable for any part of her husbands debts. This renders it improper for Colo. Lees Executors to pay the half of the demand you have formerly mentioned without having a further consideration of the matter.2 I suppose the enquiry can best be made, where resort may most easily be had to the Acting Executor—If therefore you are willing, let each of us state the case as we conceive of it to Colo. Mason, and let him have the Will to determine on. I am willing to be bound by his opinion, & if he says it must be so I will pay you immediately. If this is your pleasure, signify it to me, and I will send my state to Colo. Mason forthwith.3

My compliments if you please to your Lady. I am, with regard, Sir Your most obedient servant

Richard Henry Lee

ADfS, ICHi. Lee docketed the draft: “Richard H. Lee to Geo. Washington 21. Octr 1773.”

1GW set off for Williamsburg on 19 Oct. and was in Fredericksburg on 20 and 21 October. See GW to Lee, this date. Lee’s brother mentioned here is Col. Philip Ludwell Lee.

2Lee is discussing the will of GW’s half brother Lawrence Washington, whose widow Ann married Col. George Lee. Both George Lee and his wife had been dead a number of years, and Richard Henry Lee was one of George Lee’s executors. For GW’s involvement in paying some of the debts owed by Lawrence Washington’s estate, see note 4 in Cash Accounts, March 1773. A copy of Lawrence Washington’s will, dated 20 June 1752, is in DLC:GW, but there is no attorney’s opinion written on the back of it.

3Lawrence Washington’s acting executor was John Carlyle of Alexandria. No record of any payment to GW by Richard Henry Lee has been found.

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