George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Peter Trenor, 6 September 1794

To Peter Trenor

Philadelphia Sepr 6th 1794.


Your letter of the 9th of May from Dublin, enclosing the duplicate of one written from Newry the 1st of October 1792, came safe to my hands a few days ago; but whether the original of the last, and the one referred to in it of the 28th of January 1790 ever were received, by me, is more than my memory can decide upon at this time1—I rather think they were not—but if they were, it is more than probable I forwarded them to the Revd Mr Fairfax (the other Trustee of Mrs Savage &) the only person in her behalf who has had any agency in the matter you write upon, since the year 1775, at wch time I was called by the voice of my country into the walks of public life to the suspencion of those of a private nature.

It would seem by your letters, Sir, as if you conceived that the money due to the estate of Mrs Savage was either in my hands, & consequently at my disposal; or, that the Courts of Justice in this country were under my comptrol when you request directions may be issued by me that a finish may be put to the business, and after certain deductions are made, according to enumeration, that the residue may be placed in the hands of Mr Pollock of New York.

With respect to the first of the<se> ideas I am sorry to inform you—that the arts, & ingratitude of Doctr Savage during his life time—the contentions respecting his Will, or Wills after his death—the suspension of Judicial proceedings in the course of the War with G. Britain—the delays of our Courts since that period—the chicanery of the Lawyers who were employed by the defendants to procrastinate the suit & stave off Judgment—and by throwing it into chancery after one had been obtained at Common Law have, hitherto, prevented any of the money due to & from the Estate of Mrs Savage from getting into the hands of her Trustees—whilst they, or rather Mr Fairfax; without any fund except that of his private purse is prosecuting—and it is to be feared to a fruitless issue—this Suit; as the accounts are various and unfavorable respecting the property left by the Doctor, and forasmuch too as the heir of his Security (who is also dead) is attempting to prove the want of Assits to make good this demand.2

I do not mean, however, that you should receive this account as accurate information—for, as I have before observed, having had no agency in this business (except now & then paying Clerks & sheriffs fees) for near 20 years I only relate what I have casually heard at intervals from Mr Fairfax; with whom, in future, you will be pleased to corrispond on this subject as he is better able to give you the detail of the business than I am to sketch the outlines of it. Your last letter to me, and its enclosure, shall be forwarded to that Gentleman, who lives near Alexandria in Virginia.

With respect to your other idea—viz.—that I would direct an end to be put to this business, I beg you to be assured, Sir, that I have no more right to intermeddle in the Judicial proceedings of the Courts in this Country than you have—but I can readily enter into the feelings of a person interested in the manner you represent yourself to be & therefore wish (if that would avail any thing) it was in the power of the Trustees to administer prompt & rigid justice to all who are interested in this matter. An affair which originated in an evil hour, by an injudicious and unhappy marriage, and will end, it is to be feared, in vexation and loss to all those who have had any concern in the affairs of the unfortunate Mrs Savage.

Before I conclude I must be permitted to add, that having no private papers with me of so old a date as my letter to you in Novr 1786,3 you must be better acquainted with the information therei<n> given than I can be from recollection—But be it what it may, I am persuaded the view I had of the case at that time would warrant the details—I am—Sir, Your Very Hble Servt

Go: Washington

ALS (letterpress copy), ViMtvL; LB, DLC:GW.

1Trenor’s letter of 9 May has not been found, but he sent a duplicate of it with his letter to GW of 26 Oct. (DLC:GW): "The foregoing is Copy of what I had the Honour of writing your Excellency the 1st Octr 1792—I was in Hopes that your Excellency wd have been enabled long ere’ this, to order Payment, of the late Mrs Savages property, into the Hands of George Pollock Esqre of New york, as he is in Possession of every Necessary document, Impowerg him to receive same—I assure your Excellency, that, it has been a great Inconvenience to me, laying out of the lar[g]e sum, I advanced, towards the support of poor Widow Ennis, from time to time & which I had every reason to expect, to be Re-imbursed for same, a Considerable time ago.

"I once more beg of your Excellency, to have an End put to this Business (if not already done) and whatever sum appears coming to Mrs Ennis, from the late Mrs Savages Will—you will order same into the Hands of Mr Pollock—hoping that you will be so good, as to give directions, to have the Business stated, & forwarded to me, here, by first Packet after receipt of this, in so doing your Excellency will oblig &c."

Trenor’s letter to GW of 29 (not 28) Jan. 1790 remains in GW’s papers; for his letter of 1 Oct. 1792, see notes 1 and 6 to the 29 Jan. 1790 letter. Newry is a town in County Down, Northern Ireland, a little more than thirty miles southwest of Belfast.

2For a summary of the marriage between William and Margaret Green Savage and of GW’s involvement with the case, see Henry Lee and Daniel Payne to GW, 24 April 1767, n.1 (Papers, Colonial Series description begins W. W. Abbot et al., eds. The Papers of George Washington, Colonial Series. 10 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1983–95. description ends , 7:502-6); and for its continued failure to reach resolution, see GW to Newburgh Burroughs, 20 Aug. 1797, and George Deneale to GW, 18 April 1798 (Papers, Retirement Series description begins W. W. Abbot et al., eds. The Papers of George Washington, Retirement Series. 4 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1998–99. description ends , 1:308-10, 2:243-44).

3GW’s letter to Trenor of 15 or 16 Nov. 1786 has not been found.

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