George Washington Papers

To George Washington from James Keith, 8 April 1793

From James Keith

Alexandria [Va.] April 8th 1793


When Mr Dandridge mentioned the propositions of Mr Wilson to me on Saturday, I understood that the proposition was to cancel absolutely the Interest during the War. This I was clearly of the Opinion that your Excellency coud not by any means accede to. The proposition as really made by Mr Wilson only tends to keep the Business in a State of Suspence. When the Judgments were obtained in May last, I then, in the most earnest manner, requested Messrs Montgomerie & Wilson, if they proposed to contest the Interest during the War, to take the proper Measures to bring that point immediately before the Chancellor. This they both promised to do. In October, finding that no Steps had then been taken, I again applyed to Mr Wilson and renewed the Request I had formerly made. he assured me that he woud not defer it any longer. As no Measures have yet been taken I am strongly inclined to beleive that they have not any serious Intention of applying to the Chancellor1—I applyed to Colo. Simms2 to order the Executions some time ago. I called upon him this Morning to know whether he had received them, and find that the Clerk has neglected to send them up, he promised me to write by Stage tomorrow for them—as soon as they come to hand I will give the Credits and send them to the Sherif—I find upon taking a Reveiw of the different Accounts that the smaller Judgment is for two hundred and odd pounds more than due I am at a loss to account for the Error. Colo. Hooe is at present out of Town, before any further payments are made to him, I think it will be necessary for your Excellency to have some Conversation with him relative to a Claim of a Mr Giles against the Estate of Colo. John Colvill.3 This Claim, it appears by Letters from Lord Tankerville, has been discharged by him but no Voucher has been transmitted to support the payment.4 As soon as Colo. Hooe returns to Town, I will mention this to him, and we will wait upon your Excellency to have that part of the Business put upon a proper footing.5 I am with Respect your Excellency’s Most Obedt hble Servt

Ja. Keith

the Judgment is I find for the amount of the Bond. I mentioned on Saturday to Mr Dandridge, that the Claim was for a thousand pounds more—Speaking at that time from memory only, it was the Ballance, as struck by the Gent. who settled the Accounts, which at that time occurred to me, a thousand pounds of which was paid by the Trustees, and their Bond taken for the Ballance.



1For Bartholomew Dandridge, Jr.’s visit to Keith on Saturday, 6 April, and for William Wilson’s proposition concerning money owed the estate of John and Col. Thomas Golvill by his brother Cumberland Wilson and others, see GW to Keith, 7 April. For GW’s involvement with the Colvill estate, see GW to Robert Townsend Hooe, 7 Feb., and notes 1–2. For the judgments against Cumberland Wilson, Thomas Montgomerie, Adam Stewart, and George Mason for their joint debt to the Colvill estate, see Court Judgment, 22 May 1792. The chancellor of Virginia in 1793 was George Wythe.

2GW previously had used the services of Alexandria lawyer Col. Charles Simms to file suits for the settlement of outstanding debts (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 5:414n.).

3For payments made to Col. Robert Townsend Hooe on behalf of Henry Astley Bennett, one of the heirs of the Colvill estate, see GW to Hooe, 7 Feb., n.3, and to Keith, 17 Mar. 1793. Mr. Giles was probably a descendent of Esther Colvill Giles and her husband Capt. Matthew Giles. Esther, along with her brothers John and Thomas, had inherited a portion of their mother Catherine’s estate, of which John Colvill was the executor. According to Thomas Colvill’s will, however, neither he nor his sister had received their inheritance (Thomas Colvill’s will in Fairfax County Will Book, B–1, ViFfCh; the relevant section of the will is quoted in King, Abstracts of Wills description begins J. Estelle Stewart King. Abstracts of Wills and Inventories, Fairfax County, Virginia, 1742–1801: With Rent Rolls for 1761 and 1774. 2d ed. Baltimore, 1978. description ends , 15).

4For the claim of Charles Bennett, fourth earl of Tankerville, to a portion of the Colvill estate, see GW to Tankerville, 20 Jan. 1784, and notes.

5For GW’s response, see his letter to Keith of 13 April.

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