George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Charles Carroll (of Carrollton), 11 August 1791

From Charles Carroll (of Carrollton)

Dougheragen [Anne Arundel County, Md.]
11th Aug. 1791

Dear Sir

I was honored with your letter of the 31st past, on the 3d instant; until then I was unacquainted with the defect of your title in the lands purchased of Clifton: I had always understood that my father had let the balance decreed to him remain in the hands of the Commissioners, from a different cause than the one assigned in your letter. He had instituted a suit in chancery against his partners in iron works for an indemnification of the losses incurred by Mercer’s attachment, & the subsequent decrees in Virginia, & was advised by his lawyer (Mr Thos Johnson) not to draw the money out of the Commissioner’s hands without the consent of his partners; that consent he could never obtain; Some of them returned no answer to his written application for their directions, & consent; others replied that they were no ways concerned in the transaction, & refused to give any direction about the money.

Immediately on the receipt of your letter, I wrote to Mr Cooke on the subject; subjoined you have a copy of his answer.1 I have this day written again to Mr Cooke requesting him to draw the deed of release to complete your title, and to Mrs Digges, desiring her to execute it with all convenient dispatch; to this request she can not possibly object, as the chancry suit between the late Mr Digges & my father has long since been compromised & settled.2

Mr Cooke, you will observe, is of opinion that a deed from Mrs Lee, heiress of Mr Ignatius Digges, is not essential to the completion of your title; I presume therefore, if his opinion be well founded, you would not wish for a deed from Mrs Lee.3

When Mrs Digges has executed the deed, and your title is thereby completed, I should be glad to receive payment of the sums mentioned in my former letter in post notes at Baltimore, in preference to any other mode. I remain with sentiments of the highest respect and esteem Dear Sir Yr most obedt hum. Servant

Ch. Carroll of Carrollton


1Charles Carroll enclosed a copy of a letter dated 9 Aug. from Maryland attorney William Cooke (c.1746–1817) stating that the decree of the General Court in the matter of Clifton’s land directed William Digges, James Addison, Benjamin Farmer, and Ignatius Digges and his wife (William Clifton’s creditors) to convey the lands to the purchaser in fee simple in return for a specified payment from the commissioners to be realized from the sale of Clifton’s land. The order compelled Digges to accept £634.5.1 as final settlement of a bond of £1268.10.8, and Cooke concluded: “You will perceive that by the decree Mrs Digges, as one of the Defendants, & also as Executrix of her late husband must convey to the President all the right of her late husband, as well as her own in the mortgaged premises with a covenant of Special warranty agt all persons claiming under her, or the late Mr Digges, & deliver w[it]h the bond; this being tendered to the President, he will pay the money. If he requires that Mrs Lee, as the heir of Mr Digges, Should also convey, which I do not think essential, as a release by the Executor of a mortgagee is good without joining the heir; yet there can be no difficulty in getting Mr Lee & his lady to convey” (PPRF).

2Mary Carroll Digges was the widow of Ignatius Digges (1707–1785), who, with the elder Charles Carroll in 1762, had refused to accept the settlement of the mortgages they held on Clifton’s land prescribed by the General Court. GW’s title to the land he had acquired at the court-ordered auction in May 1762 was not fully secured until Mary Carroll Digges delivered him an indenture, dated 22 Aug. 1791, relinquishing all claim to the land “in pursuance of the said Decree as also in consideration of the sum of five shillings Current Money to the said Mary Digges in hand paid by the said George Washington at and before the Ensealing and delivery of these Presents” (NjWdHi).

3Mary Digges Lee (1745–1805), the only child of Ignatius Digges, was married to Thomas Sim Lee (1745–1819) of Prince Georges County, Maryland.

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