From Richard Chichester
Newington [Va.] 10th November 1793.
Honod & very Dear Sir
I’ve to Apologise for this intrusion on Your time, with an Address of So trivial A Nature—And make No Doubt of Your Excuse, when You hear of my Afflicted Situation—I am and have been for Near three Years last Past, in So low a State of health, almost daily Expecting the Dissolution of my body, and cannot Depart in Peace without endeavouring to undeceive You, and Acquit myself of the charge of Misdemeanor against Your Property, of Which I’m entirely inocent: And ever did most cordially despise every Appearance of Meaness.
Through the Medium of Colo. Burgess Ball, I’ve lately understood that you have been inform’d, that I was the Person who kill’d your Tame Deer (a large black buck) about Two or three years ago,1 which hath wounded my feelings beyond expression, for you to Possess Such an Idea of my Principles—I Therefore take the liberty to Assure You of my Inocence of the charge, and Declare most Solemnly in the Presence of the Searcher of all hearts, before Whom I’m in daily expectation of being Summon’d to Render An Acct of the Deeds done in the body, that I never even Saw a Deer of that description Since my Existance in the World, Nor Did I ever directly or Indirectly, to my knowledge, Injure my Neighbour, or Any Person Whatever, in Any Such like Respect—Truly I Should view Any Person of that conduct, in the light of a thief and a Rober. The colour of Such a Deer would ever be a Sure Defence against a Shott from myself or Any of my family.
A certain Charles Dodson, a Tenant on Ravensworth, was the Person that kill’d your black buck, at least he told me himself that he kill’d a large Deer of that Colour Just about the time I heard of the Loss of Yours—It was without doubt Judg’d by the Neighbourhood, and himself, to be Your Deer, as the Colour prov’d him Not a Native of this Country, And we All had heard of Your Receiving Such Deer.2
As Soon as I Recd Mr Dodsons Information as Above, I gave Major George Washington a State of the case in Writing, And did not Suppose there was A Person in the World capable of giving you Such an Information Against me, without Any foundation—However, my trust is, that Your Acquaintance with my General Character for Almost Thirty Years last Past, Will induce you to give credit to my Solemn Declaration of Inocence at this late Period of my life—Which will Add much to the Satisfaction and Peace of Mind of One Who ever did, and I hope ever Shall during life, Revere Your Name And Person, As a fellow Citizen, And An Instrument in the hands of Divine Providence in Establishing the happy Independence of America.
Tho’ I never expect the happiness of Seeing You Again on the Stage of Action, Your Prosperity and happiness in time And through Eternity will ever be Remember’d at the throne of Grace by Dr Sir Yr Most Obt & very H. Servant
ALS, DLC:GW. This letter was addressed to GW at Mount Vernon.
1. For GW’s acquisition of tame deer for Mount Vernon, see GW to Benjamin Ogle, 17 Aug. 1785; Ogle to GW, 12 July 1786; Benjamin Grymes to GW, 24 April 1786; and GW to George William Fairfax, 25 June 1786.
2. Charles Dodson (d. 1805) resided near Chichester as early as 1782 and remained in Fairfax County until his death. Ravensworth was the name of a 21,996-acre tract granted to William Fitzhugh in 1694. The tract, north of Mount Vernon and west of Alexandria, was by this time divided up into various plantations and quarters.