George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Herbert, 3 May 1793

From William Herbert

Alexandria [Va.] 3d May 1793

Dear Sir:

In a Suit, instituted by william West, Son of the late Revd Wm West of Baltimore, in the high Court of Chancery of this State, Against the Mayor and Corporation of this Town, you are made a party, as one of the Surviving Trustees, Acting as mister Wests Agent here, I am instructed by his Council, to Send you the Inclosed Bill, & to Request your Answer thereto, Which, I presume must be very Short, as I cant discover, from the Minutes, on the Town Book, that you ever Acted under your Appointment—Your Answer is only mere Matter of form & need not Be Sworn to—I have to Beg the favor of you to Return the Copy of the Bill now Sent, with your Answer, as soon as you conveniently can,1 and to Assure you, that I am—with every Sentiment of Respect & Regard—D: Sir—your Most Obedt & most Hbl. Servt

Wm Herbert


1Rev. William West had died in 1791. The suit filed against Mayor John Fitzgerald and other officials of Alexandria, Va., by artist George William West (1770–1795), the minister’s only son and an executor of his father’s will, may have been an attempt to settle his father’s estate (see Fairfax County Will Book, F–1, 300–304, ViFfCh). The enclosed “Bill” has not been identified. According to GW’s reply to Herbert of 9 May, GW did not believe that he now was or ever had been a trustee for Alexandria, Virginia. The town records, however, show that on 16 Dec. 1766 the trustees had elected GW to fill a recent vacancy on the board. Despite GW’s apparent inactivity in that capacity, his name remained on the records as trustee until the town’s incorporation in 1778 (see Thomas Milton Preisser, “Eighteenth-Century Alexandria, Virginia, before the Revolution, 1749–1776” [Ph.D. diss., College of William and Mary, 1977], 171 and Appendix B; Moore, Seaport in Virginia, description begins Gay Montague Moore. Seaport in Virginia: George Washington’s Alexandria. 1949. Reprint. Charlottesville, Va., 1972. description ends 21).

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