George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Battaile Muse, 3 November 1784

To Battaile Muse

Mount Vernon 3d Novr 1784.


Your letter of the 12 th of Septr only came to my hands a few days ago. You can best tell how far the collection of my Rents in Berkeley, Frederick, Fauquier & Loudoun would interfere with the business you have to execute for Colo. Fairfax.1 If it can be made to comport with his, and the Gentleman who employed you to look after it would signify as much I should be very willing to commit my smaller matters to your care—and would then, as soon as it should be in my power, transmit you a Rental of the Sums (as far as I can ascertain them) which are due.2

At any rate, as Mr Whiting is about to quit the tenement he holds of mine—as he is a good deal in arre⟨ars⟩ of rent—as common fame not only denomin⟨a⟩tes him a bad manager but one who is very much involved; which may occasion me a good deal of trouble if not loss, if his effects are suffered to be removed before the Sum which he owes me for rent is secured—I have to request that you will cause distress to be made before this event takes place unless he will give indubitable security for the payment of it in Six Months.

You will readily perceive by this, that my meaning on the one hand is not to loose the hold which the law gives me of his property on the premises unless he will secure me in some other manner—and on the other hand, not to distress him beyond what a prudent regard to my own interest & that security which justice requires makes absolutely necessary.

Enclosed you have a statement of the Acct between us. On the 25th of Decr next another rent will become due (making in the whole £199.8.0) the securing of which is also necessary.3 I am Sir Yr Very Hble Servt

Go: Washington

ALS, NjHi; LB, DLC:GW. The letter was addressed to Muse “in Berkeley County,” and GW wrote on the cover, “recommended to the care of Colo. Warner Washington.” The parts of two words torn from the manuscript are enclosed in angle brackets.

1When George William Fairfax left Belvoir in the summer of 1773 and went with his wife to live in England, GW assumed general supervision of Fairfax’s business affairs in Virginia, which Fairfax had left under the immediate management of a steward and rent collector. See George William Fairfax to GW, 10 June 1784, and notes. See also GW’s letter to Fairfax of 30 June 1786 in which GW reviews the history of his involvement, and lack of involvement, in Fairfax’s affairs since 1773. At the outbreak of the Revolution, Robert Carter Nicholas took over from GW the supervision of Fairfax’s American interests, and at Nicholas’s death in 1780, his son George replaced him. Muse at this time was the collector of Fairfax’s rents for George Nicholas.

2GW had difficulty establishing his rent rolls, and it was not until 18 Sept. 1785 that he sent Muse a list of his tenants in Fauquier and Loudoun counties. See GW’s letter to Muse of that date in which there is an enclosure identifying his tenants in all four counties—Frederick, Berkeley, Fauquier, and Loudoun.

3Henry Whiting had been renting a tract of GW’s Bullskin lands since the death in 1775 of his father, Francis Whiting. See John Ariss to GW, 5 Aug. 1784, n. 1. More than a year before GW wrote this letter to Muse, Lund Washington reported to GW: “Your Tenaments over the Ridge are clever and in good order with Fine Crops growing on them, White[in]gs excepted and that I think has the appearance of decay . . . your Brother Charles told me he thought it woud be no bad plan to secure Whitegs Rents, for he was thought to be in but bad cercumstances” (1 Oct. 1783, ViMtvL). By August 1784 Whiting was talking of giving up his lease. On 20 Aug. Whiting wrote GW a letter enclosing a statement of rents paid and owed. Neither the letter nor the enclosure has been located. When GW was at Charles Washington’s on 3 and 4 Sept., Whiting came to the house and paid GW £50.12, one year’s rent. This left him in arrears £149.8. In October 1785 Whiting paid £205.13.6 to settle his account. See Warner Washington to GW, 7 Aug. 1784, n.1, and GW to John Ariss, 8 Aug. 1784, n.3. See also Muse to GW, 15 June, 19 July, 16 Aug., and 6 Sept. 1785, and GW to Muse, 28 July 1785.

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