From John Augustine Washington
Bushfield [Westmoreland County, Va.]
4th Apl 1784
My dear Brother
I had flattered myself long before this to have paid my respects to you at Mt Vernon, and some time in this Month my Family intended a Visit—but many things have hapned to prevent the execucion of my plan heatherto—first the Frost which continued very late, & when the weather was brakeing up a little, we got the Melancholy Acct of the untimely death of my Son Augustine, whose loss affected me a gooddeal, as I had entertain’d very high expectations from him, he had nearly finished his Education, was bless with abilities, to quallify him for any of the Learned Professions—and possesed as sweet a disposicion as ever a Youth did, I intended this fall or at the farthest next spring to have sent him to Edinborough to study Phisick 1—I wish to God Mrs Washington could have borne this loss as well as myself—but the shock was too great for her infirm frame to bear with any tolorable fortitude, upon the first communication she fell into a Strong Convulsion which continued for some time, and when that went of, she lay for near four hours in a state of insencibility, when her reason returnd, her grief did also and she had a return of the Fit. she is now in a very low state both of Boddy and mind, I thought that the most likely way to quiet her mind, was to get her Children about her, Corbin has been down some time, and as soon as Potomack opened I wrote to Bushrod to come as far as Baltimore in the Stage where I would have horses sent (after allowing as many days as I thought it would take for my letters to reach him and for him to get to that place)2—my Servant and horses have been gone of three weeks this day, & I can hear nothing of them which has induced me to send of another messenger to inquire after the first. I was about 10 days past attacked with the Gout the Fit I believe has been slight, tho for part of the time it was with difficulty I could hobble across the Floor with the assistance of Crutches, at present my foot is easy, but I am not able to ware either Shoe or Boot—should Bushrod return shortly, as soon as he has spent some days with his Mama and recovered from the fatigue of his Journey, he and Corbin and my Self will do ourselves the pleasure of waitg on you, unless I should hear that you are gone to the northward, I think I have been informed you intended to Philadelphia this Month—if you do go, I should be happy to get information at Hooes Ferry or Mr Laur[enc]e Washingtons as I will regulate my comeing accordingly.3
I most sincerely congratulate you, on the suckcess that has attended your unw[e]aryed diligence for 8 Years past, and on yr retirement to domestic happiness—that you may long injoy good health and every blessing this world can affourd is my most ardent wish in which Mrs Washington most cordially joins me, as also in our Love and best wishes to my Sister—I am with every Sentimen of true Affection My dear Brother Sincerely Yours
John Auge Washington
ALS, PHi: Gratz Collection.
GW’s favorite brother John Augustine Washington (1736–1787) lived at Bushfield.
1. George Augustine Washington, born in 1767, was the youngest of John Augustine Washington’s three sons. On 16 Feb. 1784 the father wrote his oldest son Bushrod Washington (1762–1829), who was studying law in Philadelphia: “before this reaches you, you may have heard of the untimely and accidental death of yr poor Brother Augustine—a young Man at Delemans Academy trifling with a loaded gun ⟨she⟩ went of[f], and yr Brother setting before the fire reed the whole load in his breast of which he expired in a few minutes, this Acct was transmited [to] us by express on the 11th inst.” (DLC: Bushrod Washington Papers). Hannah Bushrod Washington was the mother of the slain youth.
2. Corbin Washington (c.1765–c.1799) soon after this settled on Walnut Farm, originally a part of his father’s Bushfield plantation. In 1787 he married Hannah Lee (1766–c.1801), daughter of Richard Henry Lee. John Augustine and Hannah Washington also had two daughters: Jane (1759–1791), the wife of William Augustine Washington (1757–1810), who was the son of GW’s half brother Augustine Washington (1720–1762), lived at Blenheim in Westmoreland County; and the younger daughter Mildred Washington (c.1760-1796), who later married Thomas Lee (1758–1805), son of Richard Henry Lee, probably was living at home at this time.
3. John Augustine Washington was at Mount Vernon in early June. See GW to John Augustine Washington, 30 June. See also John Augustine Washington to GW, c.24 July. Hooe’s ferry crossed the Potomac at Cedar Point. He here is probably referring to Lawrence Washington (1728–c.1809) of Chotank; both the ferry and the Chotank area lay between Mount Vernon and Bushfield. In the McKay catalog no. 2723, there is listed as item 696 a letter from GW to John Augustine Washington dated 27 Mar. 1784.