George Washington Papers

To George Washington from David Stuart, 10 December 1790

From David Stuart

Alex[andri]a [Va.] 10th Decr 1790

Dear Sir,

I have just time to inform you, that the business of the rents between Mr Alexander & the estate of Mr Custis for the twelve years possession of it, was adjudged two days ago—I am sorry to inform you that it has exceeded every idea I had formed on the subject, and I believe that of every reasonable man—The two men nominated by me were Mr Pollard & Mr Moss1 those nominated by Alexander Mr Thomas West & one Middleton, a common overseer on Ravensworth2—My two men for allowing £100 pr year, West was for £200, and Middleton for £300—Thus matters stood the first day, when Mr Fairfax was chosen by the four to determine between them3—I thought it a lucky choice for me, concieving that as Mr Fairfax rented a great deal of Land, he could have no extravagant idea of the value of it—I besides thought the unexceptionable characters of my men would have had weight, particularly as I knew of Mr Fairfax’s high opinion of one of them Mr Moss—I made every representation in my power, respecting the little profits I had received from the lands & the poverty of them—notwithstanding however every thing of the sort, Mr Fairfax accorded with Mr West & Mr Middleton in giving £2900—Middleton having acquiesced in Mr West’s opinion—Thus the award was made up—As Coll Simms is fully acquainted with every instance relative to this unhappy affair, I must for want of time (the stage being on the point of setting out) refer you to him for further particulars. I am Dr Sir with great respect Your affecte Serv:

Dd Stuart


This letter concerns Stuart’s protracted negotiations with Robert Alexander on behalf of the estate of John Parke Custis. For the background, see Stuart to GW, 14 July, 12 Sept., 3 Dec. 1789, 11, 15 Mar., 2 April 1790, GW to Stuart, 21 Sept. 1789, 23, 28 Mar., 11 April 1790, and Edmund Randolph to GW, 23 Dec. 1789.

1Thomas Pollard (b. 1741), a Fairfax County landowner, had served on the Fairfax Committee of Safety in 1774 and on the Truro Parish vestry from 1774 to 1784 (Rutland, Mason Papers, description begins Robert A. Rutland, ed. The Papers of George Mason, 1725–1792. 3 vols. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1970. description ends 1:lxxxviii). John Moss (1750–1809), a Fairfax County landowner, served on the Fairfax County board of overseers of the poor, 1788–91 (ibid., lxxxii).

2Thomas West, the eldest son of John West, Jr., represented Fairfax County in the Virginia house of delegates in 1784–85 (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 5:216). Thomas Middleton was an overseer at Ravensworth, a Fairfax County plantation owned by William Fitzhugh of Chatham (1741–1809).

3Stuart probably means Bryan Fairfax.

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