George Washington Papers

To George Washington from George Lee Turberville, 16 March 1794

From George Lee Turberville

Richmond Co. Virginia March 16th 1794


Full of diffidence—And conscious of the multiplicity of essential concerns that occupy every moment of your important Life, believe me I do a violence to my feelings when I am tempted thus to tresspass on yr Leizure but the interests of a deserving and amiable Wife, and of a promising family of Children impell me to begin.

I sat out in Life with the fairest prospects, and for five years represented the County of Richmond, in Assembly. during that period (at least the latter three years of it), I cou’d have obtained almost any appointment I wanted, & I trust my Line of Conduct was such as will prove that disinterested & patriotic Conduct marked me whilst I was a public servant, for this I refer you to Doctor David stuart, and others who served with me. In 1790, I became a Martyr to the Gout, & was from that & the distressing situation of my Wife obliged to quit public Life. The loss of my house & one third of my property by Fire, in Books household Stuff, &c. &c. followed on in 1791. (Novr), & (as misfortunes seldom come single), I lost my own dear Mother in Janry following.

My Father (but a young man at least not much turned of 50) marrying again in a few months blasted all my hopes,1 and altho I have a marriage settlement, which will enure to the benefit of me, or mine After my Father’s demise, and ensures to my Children, (a son & two Daughters) an ample fortune hereafter. Yet still I am left in great measure distressed and destitute, & totally incapable of affording to my Children that Education of which they are at this time of an age to receive, & which can never be recalled.

Pardon me good sir for thus troubling you with private concerns, common to the rest of our Species, let it serve to inform you of the grounds of my present application & after informing you that Mr Madison, Mr New, Mr Nicholas of the lower house, indeed most of the Virga Delegation, & Messrs Munro, & Taylor of the senate will know me & my Character if you wish an enquiry thereinto, I will proceed to my requisition.2

I have heard that Mr Hudson Muse is about to be removed & indeed has actually been removed from his Office as Collector of Rappa. River3 Shou’d this be the Case permit me to be an Applicant for that Office—but not in Opposition—to Anyone who from servitude in that Line has Merited such an Appointment, but shou’d none of that order present themselves or be thought adequate, I hope that the services of one thrown into obscurity at present only by infirmities that forbid Active Life may be remembered—I served my Country from 16 yrs of age to 22. in the Army, (& by my early exposure have brought on premature old age)—from 24 yrs of Age to 30 I was in the Assembly, & in ⟨illegible⟩ all the time in both Capacities I acted at least (I trust) without reproach if not with approbation.

Unfitted for Active Life I am still as able as ever to engage in sedentary business, & as I have others depending on me for support, & I am incapable from infirmity, & misfortune to do my duty, my Gout forbidding active exertion, I am induced to apply thus to you as my sole resource—Once more I sollicit yr pardon for this tresspass on yr Repose if the Appt I sollicit is conferred on me I shall know to whom Gratitude is due for to you alone I have applied, if not I shall be convinced greater merit than mine has obtained it,4 in either Case nothing can alter the Sentiments of my heart in regard to you, Sir, for the Respect & admiration, of every true American, of every Patriot, & of every admirer of human Virtue Must coincide with that of sir Yr Obedt & respectful servant

George Lee Turberville

If this or any other appointment suiting an inactive man, either on this side or the other of the Atlantic, I live in Richmond Co. Virginia.


Attorney George Lee Turberville (1760–1798), resident of Epping, in Richmond County, was the eldest son of Col. John (1737–1799) and Martha Corbin Turberville (1738–1792). He married Betty Tayloe Corbin (1764–c.1797) in 1782, and they had three children: John, Martha Felitia (1786–1822), and Elizabeth Tayloe. A veteran of the Revolutionary War, rising to the rank of major, he represented Richmond County in the Virginia House of Delegates, 1785–89, and served as that county’s sheriff in 1798.

1Col. John Turberville married Anne Ballantine in December 1792.

2Congressmen James Madison, Anthony New (1747–1833), and John Nicholas (c.1764–1819), plus Senators James Monroe and John Taylor (of Caroline), were some of the members of Virginia’s congressional delegation.

3On the removal of Hudson Muse as the collector of customs for the District of Tappahannock, Va., which was situated along the Rappahannock River, see Muse to GW, 27 January.

4No reply from GW to Turberville has been found, and GW did not appoint him to any federal position. On the appointment of Laurence Muse to the collector’s position, see GW to U.S. Senate, 5 March.

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