From John Dandridge
Richmond Octr 27th 88.
I take the liberty of drawing your attention a little to the subject of the Debt due you from my Fathers Estate—I have now in my possession a tract of Land in Gloucester County, entirely level, situate on the navigable waters of north river, but a small distance from the Bay & containing four hundred acres: The soil is very rich & strong—It was sold under a mortgage, to my Father, foreclosed, & I became the purchasor of necessity—I have also the balance of a Tract of land of about 1400 acres, situate on Elkhorn creek, in Fayette county & the soil of the best quality, besides a considerable quantity of meadow land—Now, Sir, the present situation of trade & commerce, internal as well as foreign is such, & such the exhausted state of our currency from the former & continued extravagance of Individuals, that no one who deals in that way, can give the value of these lands in money: Any kind of exchange would be leaving me in the same situation, if no worse: Wherefore unless a crediter will take them I know not what I can do—Either of the Tracts I should suppose to be worth one thousand pounds; the first I am sure is—The purpose of this Letter is to know if either of them will answer your convenience—If they will, I shall be very happy to make a conveyance according to your directions at any time.
You will be so good as to present my affecte duty to my Aunt, my love to my Sister1 & Cousins & respect to the Major. I am Sir, with respectful Esteem, Yr Sert
John Dandridge (d. 1799), the son of Mrs. Washington’s brother Bartholomew (1737–1785), was a lawyer in New Kent County, Va., and a member of the Virginia assembly.
The Gloucester County, Va., land consisted of a tract of some four hundred acres on Back River, a branch of the North River. GW described it in the schedule of property attached to his will as “second rate Gloucester low grounds. It has no Improvements thereon, but lyes on navigable water, abounding in Fish and Oysters” (ViFfCh). For Dandridge’s description of the land, see Dandridge to GW, 6 Dec. 1788. See also Warner Lewis to GW, 11 Mar. 1789. GW replied to Dandridge’s letter on 18 Nov. and in December requested Warner Lewis of Warner Hall in Gloucester County to appraise the property. Dandridge agreed to accept Lewis’s valuation of £800, and the land was transferred to GW as payment for the debt (GW to Lewis, 19 Dec. 1788, 24 May 1789, Lewis to GW, 26 Oct. 1789, GW to Dandridge, 26 Mar., 11 April 1789, Dandridge to GW, 6 Dec. 1788, 2 April 1789). During the 1790s GW made a number of unsuccessful attempts to sell the tract. See GW to Lewis, 5 Mar. 1790, to James Innes, 28 Sept. 1790, to Thomas Parker, 7 Feb. 1793, to Joshua Gale, 13 Feb. 1794, to Andrew Van Bibber, 4 Oct. 1795, to George Fitzhugh, 28 Jan. 1796, Van Bibber to GW, 28 Sept. 1795, Fitzhugh to GW, 14 Jan. 1796.
1. Dandridge had three sisters, Martha (Patcy) Washington Dandridge, Mary Dandridge, and Frances Dandridge. One of the sisters, most likely Martha Dandridge, had arrived at Mount Vernon in July 1788 and may have remained for some time (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 5:362; GW to Dandridge, 26 Mar. 1789). The cousins probably included Frances (Fanny) Bassett Washington (1767-1796), daughter of Burwell Bassett and the wife of GW’s nephew George Augustine Washington. The young Washingtons made their home at Mount Vernon where George Augustine acted as manager for GW. Dandridge undoubtedly also intended his greetings for the two youngest Custis children, who were living at Mount Vernon, and the other members of the family at Abingdon (see William Gordon to GW, 24 Sept. 1788, n.9).