George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Benjamin Reeder, 22 January 1791

From Benjamin Reeder

Maryland, Charles County 22 Jan. 1791


I have it in contemplation to sell the Reversion of between three and four Hundred acres of land near your seat in Virginia, and as it is Probable this land will not only suit you, but that you will give as much, or more for it, than any other Person I beg leave to make you an offer of it.1

It is land I obtaind by marriage with a Miss Slaughter And the old ladys life is to be reserved in it, you are well enough acquainted with the Probable incumbrance from the reserve, and, I Presume, with the Situation and Value of the land not to need a description on those heads. a Proper Title will be made if you Purchase.

As I have not the Honor to be known to you, it may not be improper to refer you to Gentlemen to whom I am known. To the Honble Mr Dan. Carroll Mr Stone & Mr Co⟨ntee⟩ I am a little Known.

I will be obliged by Hearing from you on the above Subject, and when I assure you that necessity makes me offer this Property for sale. I hope my candour will be an ⟨excuse⟩ for my obtruding. I have the Honor to be Sir your most obedt Hble sert

B. Reeder


Benjamin Reeder was a member of a family prominent in St. Mary’s and Charles counties in Maryland and owned eleven slaves in 1790 (Heads of Families [Maryland] description begins Heads of Families at the First Census of the United States Taken in the Year 1790: Maryland. 1907. Reprint. Baltimore, 1965. description ends , 53). He was married to Eleanor Slaughter Reeder, daughter of Thomas and Ann Clifton Slaughter.

1The land involved was a one-third undivided share of 555 acres within the fork of Little Hunting Creek, about three miles north of the mansion house at Mount Vernon and less than a mile from the Muddy Hole Farm. The land was purchased by William Clifton from Henry Brent in 1746 for £436 Virginia money. On 19 Aug. 1760 William Clifton and his wife Elizabeth Brent Clifton sold the tract to George Brent and Sampson Darrell as trustees for their daughter Ann Clifton Slaughter and the heirs of her body, a legal strategy for providing Ann with property independent of her estranged husband, Thomas Slaughter (Fairfax County Deed Book D–1 [1755–61], 769). The will of Ann Clifton Slaughter left the undivided tract to her three daughters: Elizabeth Brent Slaughter Hamersley, Eleanor Clifton Slaughter Reeder, and Mary Ann Seymour Slaughter Patton, the wife of James Patton. Benjamin Reeder’s effort to sell his wife’s anticipated share in the property to GW was unsuccessful, and he subsequently sold it to his brother-in-law James Patton (Mitchell, Beginning at a White Oak, description begins Beth Mitchell. Beginning at a White Oak . . . Patents and Northern Neck Grants of Fairfax County Virginia. Fairfax, Va., 1977. description ends 31).

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