George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Andrew Morton, 1 February 1775

From Andrew Morton

Feby 1st 1775


I am at length arrived at Belvoir & (what may seem a little strange to you) have brought the Bond unexecuted. I waited long for Mr Baylor’s Return, but to no purpose! For when I came away, no Account could be given when he was expected. The Season advancing, & the Assurance I had from you, of my having a year’s Rent to pay, made it necessary for me to move without farther Delay.1

Major Lowry sensible both of my Ability & Integrity, wanted only a Partner to be my Security. Mr Baylor continuing absent, I should have applied to some other person, to fill the place designed for that Gentleman; but when I came to reflect on the Intimations you gave me, that my Settlemt here would be disagreeable to you, I could not, either with regard to you or myself, be desirous of a Lease.2 Far, very far be it from me, to give the least Umbrage to a Gentleman, who deserves so well of his Country & of Mankind in general: Therefore I am contented to hold the place only for a year, before the Expiration of which, I doubt not all Difficulties & every Prejudice will be removed For the time being, every Covenant I will faithful fulfill, & as to the future, I shall leave Matters to that Honor & Justice, by which you are distinguished.3 In the mean time I am, with all Deference Sir, Your most hum: Servt

A. Morton

ALS, ViMtvL.

1For correspondence regarding the bond that Morton was to give to GW to lease George William Fairfax’s Belvoir property, see Morton to GW, 17 Dec., and GW to Morton, 21 Dec. 1774.

2GW’s recently aroused disapproval of the Rev. Andrew Morton’s presence at neighboring Belvoir undoubtedly was related to a matter brought to the attention of the Virginia council in April 1774: “Edmund Pendleton Esquire having complained against Andrew Morton, Clerk, Rector of the Parish of Drysdale in the Counties of King & Queen and Caroline, & exhibeted there upon a Libell before the Governor & Council in his own Name & the Names of the rest of the Vestry of the said Parish for divers Immoralities for which they pray his Excellency & their Honours would, after Proof made of the Charges, pronounce Sentence of Deprivation against the said Andrew; it was ordered that a Citation issue to Summon him to appear before the Governor and Council to answer the several Matters of the said Complaint on the first Tuesday in June next; and that in the mean Time, and as soon as conveniently it may be done he be served with a Copy of the said Libel” (Exec. Journals of Virginia Council description begins H. R. McIlwaine et al., eds. Executive Journals of the Council of Colonial Virginia. 6 vols. Richmond, 1925–66. description ends , 6:556).

The scandal may also help explain why James Taylor, Jr., who was among other things county lieutenant of Caroline County, wrote GW on 12 April 1775 announcing the absolute refusal of Thomas Lowry and George Baylor to act as security for Morton: “Sir I mentd Mr Mortons affar to both Mr Boylor & Mr Loury and they Absolutely refuse entering into any engagements on that persons account, Mr Boylor says he never was applied to nor knew such a thing was expected from him ’till I mentioned it to him the evening we parted in our return from Richmond. I am Sir Very Respectfully Your Servt James Taylor Jr.” The outcome of the complaints against Morton in 1774 are not known, but he seems to have been dismissed by 1775. An account of his treatment of a Baptist minister in the journal of John Williams has tarnished his reputation for posterity: “Brother [John] Waller informed us about two weeks ago on the Sabbath Day down in Caroline County he introduced the worship of God by singing. While he was singing the Parson of the Parish would keep running the end of his horsewhip in his mouth, laying the whip across the hymn book etc. When done singing he proceeded to prayer. In it he was violently jerked off the stage; they caught him by the back part of his neck, beat his head against the ground, sometimes up, sometimes down, they carried him through a gate that stood some considerable distance, where a gentleman gave him something not less than twenty lashes with his horsewhip. After that they carried him through a long lane. At the end thereof they stopped in order for him to dispute with the parson. The parson came up and gave him abominable ill language, and away he went with his clerk and one more. Then Brother Waller was released, went back singing praise to God, mounted the stage and preached with a great deal of liberty” (Campbell, Colonial Caroline description begins Thomas Elliott Campbell. Colonial Caroline: A History of Caroline County, Virginia. Richmond, 1954. description ends , 224–25).

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