George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Sarah Cary Fairfax and George William Fairfax, 12 August 1779

From Sarah Cary Fairfax and George William Fairfax

[England]1 August 12th 1779


Mrs Græme a Lady of large property in South Carolina, the Place of Her Nativity, who has been in England the last sixteen years, is returning to America, and as She hopes to pass Yr Camp, if She is so happy to be permited to go home, has requested that we would give Her a line of introduction, to Yr Excellency, which would be unnecessary if You was as well acquainted with Her merits as we are.2

She has been our near Neighbour, and intimate friend, the last three Years, and tho’ a fellow sufferer, contributed to the keeping up our spirits, under the calamities of the times. Mr and self will be greatly oblig’d, by Yr favoring Her with your advice and protection, and if You’l be pleasd to honor Her with an hours convirsation, She is qualifyed to inform You fully of our health, the humility of our present situation, and all that relates to us.

We frequently have the satisfaction to see, by the Papers, that Mrs Washington is well, in Quarters with You, which gives us the greatest pleasure.

We wrote to You and Lady, by our nephew W. Lee, about two months since,3 but as He went by the Madeira, tis possible this may kiss Yr hand before He arrives,4 therefore must beg the favor of You, to present our Affectionate respects to good Dear Mrs Washington, and belive us Sir Your faithful Friends, and Affectionate Hbl. Serts

[Sarah Cary Fairfax] and [George William Fairfax]5

AL, DLC:GW. GW docketed this letter, “From Mrs Fairfax,” but the text of the letter indicates that it was from both Sarah Cary Fairfax and George William Fairfax, and GW docketed the probable enclosure “Geo: Wm Fairfax Esq. June & Augt 1779.”

1Although the Fairfaxes gave no indication of where they wrote this letter, they were resident in England.

2The Fairfaxes are probably referring to Anne Mathewes Graeme (d. 1792), of Charleston, S.C. She was the daughter of Anthony Mathewes, Jr. (d. 1756), a planter from John’s Island, S.C., and the widow of David Graeme (d. 1777), who had served as the attorney general of South Carolina under the royal government from 1757 to 1764. Anne Mathewes and David Graeme were married in 1759 in Charleston. David Graeme had traveled to England in January 1764 and was there until October 1768.

3The Fairfaxes probably enclosed a similarly worded copy of George William Fairfax’s 25 May letter to GW—dated “Bath June 1779” and signed “GW. F”—to which they appended an addition dated “Aug. 79,” reading: “Our friend Mr Nicholas writes me word, that the Legislature has appointed Messrs Willis and Peyton Commissioners, & Managers of my Estate, & that one if not both had deposited Money pursuant to an Act in the Treasury so that I trust it will not be repugnant to any Law of that State to assist a distress’d Lady passing through to her Native One, indeed our Situation is truely deplorable, having yett to gett my Title Deeds & Papers out of the hands [of] one of the most villanous of Men, in Order to renew my Action, & to gett a Sum of Money that He unjustly detains in his hands, I have taken the Liberty to give Mrs Græme (the Lady that We have jointly recommended to you,) a draft on you for Forty or Fifty pounds Virginia Currency, in Case She, or her travelling friends Messrs Neufville’s should be in want of Money to gett to their Native State So. Carolina. they are young Gentn that merit any Civilities that may be shewn to them, in their way home, and I shall take it as a favor if you’l, advise them which Rout to take. Our united Compts and best wishes attend you, your Lady, Family and friends.” A note on the cover reads: “By the favor of Mrs Græme” (DLC:GW).

4William Lee was planning to take up residence in Virginia (see George Fairfax to GW, 25 May, and n.2 to that document). On 13 Sept. 1779, the Massachusetts council issued William Lee a passport to travel to GW’s headquarters in New York and “waite his Excellencys further Orders.” On 20 Oct. at West Point, GW endorsed the passport: “The bearer Wm Lee Esqr a native of Virginia, was to my knowledge, sent young to England for his education; & returning to his Estate in that Commonwealth with ample testimonials thereof to me, is at full liberty to pursue his Journey” (ADS, NNGL, on deposit at NNPM).

5Two dashes appear on the manuscript in place of each of the Fairfaxes’ signatures.

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