George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Robert Cary & Company, 1 June 1774

To Robert Cary & Company

Williamsburg June 1st 1774.


Your Letter of the 5th of Mar: by Captn Peterson came to my hands in this City1—In answer to it I shall briefly observe that, I am sorry my drafts in behalf of Mr Custis came to hand at an unseasonable time; but as his Guardian, I could let no consideration of a Debt due from me to you, Influence me in a purchase which I thought, and others advis’d, as tending much to the Interest of my ward2—To remove however as much as in my power lays, at this time, the Inconvenience you complain of, I have executed the Bond, and other Papers necessary for the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, in order to enable you to receive the Money in the Bank of England;3 and I have only to beg of you upon this occasion, to do it at such a time, and in such a manner, as will tend most to my benefit; as I have no other motive for Investing myself with this Money, but to apply it in discharge of my Debt to you.

The Balle so soon as I can with convenience, shall be remitted to you, & I flatter myself it would not have been long before this would have been finally dischargd but for a fatal stroke which we have lately receivd in the destruction of our Wheat by a Frost (the like, at this Season, never known) which happen’d on the 4th Instt, & which has fallen very heavy upon me as I shall loose the better half of more than one thousand acres which I had growing in Wheat, equal (before this accident) to my most flattering hopes.4

The Inventory of the Goods administer’d, is returnd in the form drawn by Mr Waller, the Preamble to which is rather more full than need be, in order to keep pace, in some measure, with the Requisition & Bond, which seems to demand more than is requisite, as there is nothing unadminister’d but the principal Sum in the Bank of England.5

As I happend to meet with your Letter at this place, where I was attending our Assembly (and Mrs Washington with me) I am enabled thereby to return the requisition (executed) to the aforesaid Court without loss of time. I have also after reserving a few Hhds of Mr Custis’s Tobo for Mr Hanbury (according to promise)6 directed Mr Hill to put all the residue, together with the whole of mine, on board the Rising Sun to your address—the qty, Mr Hill himself cannot yet ascertain, as it is not Inspected. So soon as I do know it, I will write for Insurance thereon.7

Before I conclude (as the whole of my force is, in a manner confind to the growth of Wheat, & Manufacturing of it into Flour) permit me to ask how Flour of a good quality would Sell in London? what would be the Freight of it there? and Commission? and, whether if our Commerce with Great Britain is kept open (which seems to be a matter of very great doubt at present) you would choose to accept of a Commission to sell an Hundred, or two hundred Barrels at a time; as I could meet with convenient freight (for it will not do to be put into Tobacco Ships the heat thereof being too great, and apt to Sower, or render the Flour musty)—your answer to these queries will much oblige Gentn Yr Most Obedt Servt

Go: Washington

ALS, CSmH; ALB, DLC:GW. The ALS is docketed: “Virginia 1 June 1774 Colo. G. Washington Recd 13 July 74 per [James] Esten Fol. 387 & 388.”

1Letter not found.

2In December 1773 GW drew £3,679.5 on John Parke Custis’s account with Robert Cary & Co. to purchase for Custis from William Black the plantations Romancoke and Pleasant Hill. See GW to Cary, 10 Nov., n.3 and 5 Dec. 1773.

3The Bank of England stock valued at £1,650 sterling, which had become a part of Martha Parke Custis’s inheritance at the final settlement of the estate of her father, Daniel Parke Custis, in 1761, passed to Martha Washington at her daughter’s death in 1773. In order to have Cary sell the stock for him, GW had Peyton Randolph and Robert Carter Nicholas join him on 31 May 1774 in executing a bond for £4,000 to the archbishop of Canterbury as protection against the surfacing of a will of Daniel Parke Custis, who died intestate. The transcription of the bond in CD-ROM:GW is taken from a certified copy (typescript) of the bond deposited in DLC: Washington Family Papers. Also transcribed in the CD-ROM:GW from the same source is a typescript of the order of 16 July 1774 of the archbishop of Canterbury appointing Martha Washington administratrix of Daniel Parke Custis’s estate. GW supplied this statement: “An Inventory of the Estate of Daniel Parke Custis Esquire deceased which came to my hands, or the hands of my Attorney under the general Letters of Administration of the said Decedent’s Estate granted by the Arch Bishop of Canterbury in the year 1774. Inventories of the Virginia Estate having been returnd to the Court in that Colony where Administration was there Granted to me—and the money due from the Merchants in England to that Estate, having been also accounted for to the General Court of Virginia—viz. One Thousand Six hundred and Fifty pounds—in the Bank of England. Martha Washington.” This copy of the statement, in GW’s hand and signed by Martha Washington, is in the Mitchell Library of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. It is undated, but in his letter book, immediately below his copy of this letter to Robert Cary & Co., GW made a copy of the statement and dated it “Virginia 1st June 1774.” In the Custis Papers (ViHi) are three additional documents pertaining to the Bank of England stock. One, from a Mr. Stevens and dated at “Doctors Commons,” 8 Aug. 1774, reads: “Mr Stevens presents his Compliments to Messrs Carey and Co. and inclosed sends them a Requisition for the swearing Mrs Washington Administratrix with the Will annexed of the Goods unadministred of the Honourable John Custis Esquire deceased ⟨mutilated⟩ with Instructions for the due execution thereof.” The other two are undated documents bearing the seal of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury. The first of these is docketed “John Custis Esquire deceased Instructions for the execution of the Requisition;” the other is docketed “Instructions for the Execution of the Requisition or Commission for swearing Mr Daniel Parke Custis Executor of the Will of his late Father John Custis ⟨Esqr.⟩ deceased.” It is not known when these were sent to GW, but he wrote to Lund Washington on 10 May 1776: “Long before I left Virginia, I directed it [the bank stock] to be sold, writing to Messieurs Cary and Co., who had always received the dividends, to negotiate the matter: In consequence they sent me a power of Attorney, and a great deal of formal stuff for Mrs Washington and myself to execute before the Governor. This we did, literally as required, and transmitted; since which the Directors of the Bank have prescribed another Mode, and I have had forwarded to me another set of Papers to be executed also before the Governor, which has never been in my power to do, as they arrived but a little while before I set out for the Congress last Spring.” The bank stock was not sold until after the Revolution. See GW to Wakelin Welch, 27 July 1784, and note 2 of that document.

5The copy of the Custis inventory has not been found, but see Settlement of the Daniel Parke Custis Estate, 20 April 1759–5 Nov. 1761. See also note 3.

7No letter to Cary indicating the number of hogsheads sent in Capt. Jacob Peterson’s Rising Sun has been found.

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