George Washington Papers

To George Washington from George William Fairfax, 3 August 1778

From George William Fairfax

Bath [England] Augt 3d 1778

My Dear Sir

By Genl Burgoynes great Politeness & kindness, I am not only made happy, by the fullest, and most Satisfactory Account I have had in three Years, of the Health and Situation of my Friends in Virginia, but also am enabled to make my acknowledgements for your kind Attention, under the apparent neglect of four years silence on my part.1 I recived your Letter informing me of your appointment,2 and as I know that it was impossible for you to attend to your own extensive affairs, I immediately wrote, to beg you would empower Mr R:C: Nicholas, or some other Person of integrity to transact my business, I also wrote to Mr Lund Washington in answer to one from him, covering some Bills of Exch.3 As the communication was then in some degree open, I am much surprized that those Letters should have miscarried, as I was careful not to touch upon any improper subject. I am sorry to hear that Belvoir is going to decay, but hope if the House is kept light and dry, it cant suffer much. I wish the few Pictures left in it had been removed to Mount Vernon. I am apprehensive my Interest has suffered greatly, and tho’ tis late, must now intreat, that you’l do me the favor to Depute Mr Nicholas, Colo. Lewis of Fredericksburg, or some Gentn of Character to inspect the Manager & Stewards Accot and proceedings. your power is full & adiquate to what I desire, you know the impossibility of my appointing an Attorney, as Witnesses are always required to prove the Execution here to make it valid, this I hope will be my excuse for giving you the trouble of Deligating the Power you have.4 My situation here is truely pitiable, as the Chancery Suit that brought me over, is as far from a conclusion as ever, owing to the Villainy of my Sollicitor, who had taken up several thousands pounds, upon one of my Estates in Yorkshire while I was in America, which He had Mortgaged for Money applyed to his own use, while my Cause was suffered to be dismiss’d for want of proceeding in, the knowledge of this transaction is but lately discoverd, so that I’ve only just now obtained an Order from the Court of Chancery, to have my Papers, Title Deeds &c. deliverd up to me, in order to my renewing the Suit, which tis incumbent upon me to do, ⟨Or⟩ I shall not only loose one Moiety of my recoverd Estate at Reedness, but ⟨be⟩ Saddled with the whole Costs of a Chancery Suit of twenty Years standing.5

Pardon my good Sir, my troubling you with the Minutie of my Affairs, it may be a matter of consequence, that my Friends should be informed, that I have good reason for my Stay in England, & this opportun⟨ity⟩ through the Channel of a Gentn of honor is not to be missed, & as a proff that tis’ not, be assured, that I’ve wrote more than ten Letters to You & Mr Nicholas relative to my business, and with all necessary caution, it was therefore wanton cruelty only, that could have occasioned their being stoped.6

Upon our finding ourselves absolutely Cut off from a remittance from V——a we thought it necessary to retrench Expences greatly; I was ordered, at the same time to drink these Waters, heither we came, without any intention of ⟨illegible⟩ here, but finding the Place beautiful & convenient, we were induced to take and Furnish a small House in which we have resided since May was two years. This Spaw has contributed greatly to my Health, my poor Wives is so dreadfully bad that She has little enjoyment of life.

Genl Burgoyne was so obliging as to find Us out in my Cott[age], and to deliver your favor into my hand. accept my hearty thanks for it, and the pleasing information it contained of Lord Fx Mr Carys and other Friends health. When opportunity offers, be pleas’d to present my Affect: respects to his Lordship, and all other Friends, as if I had named every individual, Mrs Fx joins me in Affect: regards to you, and amiable Lady, Mr & Mrs Custis, We lament their loss of Children.7 I am Dear Sir Your Affect: and Most Obedt Humble Servt.

AL (copy), DLC:GW.

1Lt. Gen. John Burgoyne had carried GW’s letter to Fairfax of 11 March.

2Fairfax was referring to GW’s letter of 26 July 1775.

3None of these letters have been identified.

4For GW’s account of his attempts to delegate the power of attorney that Fairfax had given him in 1773, as well as a general review of his management of Fairfax’s affairs, see GW to Fairfax, 30 June 1786 ( Papers, Confederation Series description begins W. W. Abbot et al., eds. The Papers of George Washington, Confederation Series. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1992–97. description ends , 4:135–41).

5Reedness is a town about twenty miles south-southeast of York in what was formerly the West Riding, but is currently the Goole district of the East Riding, of Yorkshire, England.

6The most recent letter from Fairfax to GW that has been found is dated 2 March 1775.

7The first child of John Parke Custis and Eleanor Calvert Custis, a daughter, was born in 1775 and died in infancy. Their other daughters, born in 1776 and 1777, had, however, survived.

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