George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Dolphin Drew, 13 February 1784

From Dolphin Drew

Berkeley C[oun]ty [Va.] Feby the 13th 1784.


Mr Albion Throckmorton a young Gentleman of my Acquaintance purchas’d late last Fall a Lease of one Collet one of your Tenants of about 200 Acres upon Bullskin. Since this Mr Throckmorton to his great Surprize has discoverd that Collet had no right to sell him the Lease, it being against one of the Covenants.1 As however Mr Throckmorton has paid Collet his Money & enter’d upon the premises & made some preparations for a Crop, he requests that your Excellency will suffer him to keep the Lease; or if it be agreeable, he wou’d be very glad to purchase the same in Fee simple.2 He likewise desir’d Me to mention to your Excellency that there is another Lease adjoining this originally leas’d to one Bowlie, which the Tenant wou’d sell him with your permission & he wou’d gladly buy; but this too he wou’d rather purchase in Fee.3 As Mr Throckmorton is young & quite unexperienced in Matters of this kind, he desird that I wou’d write to your Excellency respecting the above & request an immediate Answer. I am, Sir, with great Respect Yr most ob. hble Servt

Dolphin Drew


Dolphin Drew began his practice of law in Berkeley County, Va., at the time it was formed in 1772.

Before his twenty-second birthday in 1754, GW had acquired seven parcels of land in Frederick County, Virginia. Four of these tracts totaling nearly two thousand acres were on Bullskin Run, which became a part of Berkeley County (now West Virginia) in 1772. For a full description of GW’s early land acquisitions in Frederick County, see Papers, Colonial Series description begins W. W. Abbot et al., eds. The Papers of George Washington, Colonial Series. 10 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1983–95. description ends , 1:48. GW divided his Bullskin land into ten lots and in the late 1760s and early 1770s leased the lots to tenants. For GW’s sale in 1771 to Philip Pendleton of 180 acres of his Bullskin holdings, see GW to James Nourse, 22 Jan. 1784, n.3.

1Moses Collett leased a 200–acre section of GW’s Bullskin land in 1773. On 1 Oct. 1783 GW’s estate manager Lund Washington wrote GW: “Moses Collet is Dead and his family intends to move over the mountain in the spring they have sold their Lease, to a Mr Throckmorton and meant to give him Possession this Fall. ... I did not see Mr Throckmorton but I desired some of his acquaintances to inform him if he had not already obtaind your consent my opinion was that he never woud, and I told the Colletts, that you woud not agree to any such transfer” (ViMtvL). Lund Washington went on to describe the ill consequences he envisioned should GW approve the transfer of the lease to Throckmorton. See also GW to Isaac Collett, 25 Feb. 1784. Albion Throckmorton (died c.1795) was originally from Gloucester County, Virginia. In 1785 he married Mildred Washington (c.1766–1804), the oldest daughter of GW’s cousin Warner Washington (1722–1790). The Collett who was attempting to sell the lease was Isaac, the eldest and only surviving son of Moses Collett (see Isaac Collett to GW, 22 Feb. 1784).

2GW responded on 25 Feb. to Isaac Collett’s letter of 22 Feb., to say that he would not consider allowing Collett to sell his lease until Collett paid the back rent that he owed. On 27 April 1784 Lund Washington received from John Steen the £30 that Isaac Collett owed for the rent from 1780 through 1784, and in 1786 Steen paid for himself the £6 annual rent on the lot (Battaile Muse Papers, NcD).

3For GW’s explanation of his refusal to sell a part of his Bullskin land to Throckmorton, see GW to Dolphin Drew, 25 Feb. 1784. No one named Bowlie appears in GW’s accounts as leasing his land on the Bullskin. Bowlie may be a misreading and misspelling of “Reiley” (see John Reiley, Ledger B description begins Manuscript Ledger Book 2, 1772-93, in George Washington Papers, Library of Congress. description ends , 71).

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