George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Roberts, 2 September 1787

From William Roberts

Fredricks Burge 2d of Septr 1787

Dear Sir

This is to inform You that I am at My Brotherinlaws Alfords at Colo. Pages Mill From Whome I Am informd by, that You Send Some Time Ago to Intemate as Much as if I was To Seeke Your Imploy Once More it Mite be Possable To be Reinstated once More at home.1 for Living As Long in Your Imploy as I Did it became as Natral to Me as Altho I had been Raisd on the Place. thare Fore if Your Exsellency has A Mind To Imploy Me I am Ready & Willing To Serve You as Fathefull as I alwais have Dun on previsers Youl Give My £80 per Year & My Old Preveledges. & in Regard to Poltery Wold Desier to Rase No More then for our own use—My Brother Alford Informs Me of An Action in Alexandria Cort Which has Been Gavin Against Me to the Amount of £12 Which I am Liable to be Executed for Which has Detaind Me from Coming on the Besoness my Self if you See proper to Imploy Me & Settle the Sute thats Gaven Against Me that I Shant be Destrest I will Come & Enter Into a Contract for a Term of Years or My Life time was it to be Ended as Happy As Formaly. the first place I Am Not in a Compasety to Move My Self Without Selling a Neg⟨ro⟩ Boy Whome I Shold be Sorry to part from thare fore if youd Move Me up As You have a Good Teem & Lend Me £10 it Shold be paid in My first Qrs pay.

I Shold be Raley Glad to be once More in Your Good & Honast Imploy For Whare I have Livd Last I have been Yousd with De⟨frau⟩d & Rail Arbitery Purposess of thare own which I Am Determend to Fly From As Soon As Possable From Sir Your Most Obediant And Humble Servant

W:M. Roberts

N.B. Pray Sir Be So Kind as To favour Me With your answer By Mr Taylor.2


GW reluctantly discharged the skilled miller in 1785 after Roberts had “become such an intolerable sot, and when drunk so great a madman” that GW could not bring himself to “bear with him any longer” (GW to Robert Lewis & Sons, 1 Feb. 1785). GW and Roberts corresponded as late as the summer of 1799 about the possibility of Roberts’s returning to Mount Vernon.

1Mann Page, Jr., of Mannsfield near Fredericksburg, visited Mount Vernon as recently as 12–14 July 1786 (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 5:7–8). Alford is probably Thomas Alford (Alfred), formerly William Roberts’s apprentice at Mount Vernon.

2Mr. Taylor may be Alexandria merchant Jesse Taylor who dined at Mount Vernon on 23 Sept., the day after GW returned from Philadelphia (ibid., 188).

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