George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Bartholomew Dandridge, 16 February 1774

From Bartholomew Dandridge

New Kent February 16, 1774.

Dear Sir

I am sorry my Letter was so long on its passage to you as the most perfect Account of my proceeding with Black would not be very satisfactory. As I have not seen or heard from Mr Hill I took what I thought the best conveyance by a Gentleman who was going directly from hence to Fredericksburg & promised me he would deliver the Letter to Col. Lewis which he has since informed me he did with my request that it might be immediately sent to you.1 Col. Bassett was so kind as to send yours to me this Evening and promises to deliver this to Capt. Crawfurd You may depend on my care of the Bond, and compliance with every thing you desire, which will give me great pleasure if it proves any way serviceable,2 I had a Letter from Mr Wythe since I wrote to you in which he says, he did not know any thing more I could do with Black than I had done, unless it was to tender him the Bond you now have sent upon his complying with the Condition of it, I have not seen or heard from Mr Moore lately so that I cannot inform you whether Mrs Black’s mind is yet altered or not but tomorrow at King William Court I expect to hear something of the matter,3 I always concluded that Col. Byrd’s Trustees would not make a Conveyance to Black until he had complied with his bargain with you, and that I take to be your best Security for Mrs Black’s relinquishing her Dower, as she cannot but be sensible that it is greatly for her advantage to do it.4 Mr Wythe’s saying “she would not be intitled to Dower in the Lands in King William the legal titles whereof are in other Persons” seems inconsistent with his former Opinion,5 now Col. Moore’s Deed to his Trustees is found & must be a mistake, I have no doubt but she will be intitled to Dower in all except the Mill & 100 Acres of Land purchased of Seton, and altho. Mr Lyons has engaged that he & Col. Pendleton will join in a conveyance to you (of Romoncocke) he thinks it not necessary & I hope it is not. I shall apply to Mr Lyons & Mr Power tomorrow for performance of their promise of a Conveyance of the Mill &c.6

As it was necessary that the Serjeants & Soldiers who I contracted with for their Lands should make a personal application to the Governor, I desired them all to go down at the Court of Oyer & Terminer & not being there myself, sent a Letter by Mr Aylett desiring a person there to act on my behalf with directions what to do, but Mr Aylett was so careless to loose the Letter,7 and my not being there or any Person to act for me furnished them with an excuse for selling their Lands at a better price that then offered, few of them were honest enough to abide by their bargain with me, & the others were not informed how to direct their Warrants, but this last mistake I did not know of til now, when I heard that a sufficient number of Warrants had not been delivered to Mr Craig I sent some others, but he chose to return them as he apprehended it was too late for your purpose, I have but one Serjeants Warrant by me (in Augusta) which I inclose & which you are welcome to use if you have Occasion, if not, it will be no disadvantage to me to have it returned when it suits you, your keeping the others has been attended with no prejudice to me as I should not have used them, The Assemblys sitting will hinder as much time as I can spare from my other business or more, & I am a little at a loss what to do with my Warrants the Principal of which is a Lieutenants 2000 Acres.8

Be pleased to make a tender of my sincere Affection to my Sister, in which My Wife joins me Nancy & the Boys9 send their Duty to their Uncle & Aunt, I am Dr Sir Your very affectionate humble Servt

B. Dandridge

Be pleased to tell Mr Custis & his Lady that We sincerely congratulate them on their Nuptials & wish them all happiness.

N.B. I have generally thought that Mrs Black’s unwillingness to acknowledge her right was feigned for some mean purpose of Black’s, but sometimes I am inclined to think that she is afraid Black will by some means prevent her having a right to Dower in the Jas River land after she has acknowledged the other, this may be done, & he is capable of it.10

My Paper has accidentally got dirty & I have not time to write it over.


1Dandridge is referring to his letter of 30 Dec. 1773.

3Dandridge did not see Black at the King William courthouse on 17 Feb. but wrote to him the following day. Black replied on 26 Feb., reiterating his reasons for not complying with GW’s wishes, and stating that “Mrs Black is very easy whether ⟨she⟩ has or has not a Right of Dower in the K. Wm Estate. I am satisfy’d she would have been always ready to have acknowledged her Right, when she saw there was Reason for her so doing.” He added that “there are none yet who have heard my Reasons but think they were good ones” (Black to Dandridge, ViHi: George Bolling Lee Papers).

5GW quotes at length George Wythe’s missing letter in his letter to Dandridge of 12 Feb.; Wythe’s “former Opinion” is Wythe’s memorandum enclosed by Dandridge in his letter to GW of 30 Dec. 1773.

6For the problems relating to the transfer of ownership of the mill included in GW’s purchase of Romancoke plantation, see note 7 of George Wythe’s memorandum printed as an enclosure in Dandridge to GW, 30 Dec. 1773. See also Dandridge to GW, 2 April 1774. Jack Power was one of the trustees of Bernard Moore’s property; Peter Lyons was a trustee of Moore’s property as well as that of John Robinson.

7Mr. Aylett is probably John Aylett, Dandridge’s brother-in-law.

8See GW to Dandridge, c.12 Feb., n.5. Mr. Craig may be Alexander Craig.

9Nancy was probably Anne Dandridge, Bartholomew Dandridge’s daughter by his first wife, Elizabeth Macon Dandridge. Bartholomew Dandridge had three sons—Bartholomew, Jr., John, and William.

10In order to persuade Mrs. Black at last to sign the deeds surrendering her right to dower in the Robinson and Moore properties (see GW to Robert Cary & Co., 10 Nov. 1773, n.3), Black “entered into bond in the penalty of £2000. to Mr. [John] Blair as her Trustee, with condition that he would procure a legal conveyance of the Falls Plantation to intitle her to Dower” (Edmund Pendleton’s Opinion in Black v. Black, in Mays, Pendleton Papers description begins David John Mays, ed. The Letters and Papers of Edmund Pendleton, 1734–1803. 2 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1967. description ends , 2:430–33). But see also note 3.

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