George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Vans Murray, 1 March 1795

From William Vans Murray

Union Street 1. March 1795.


Agreeably to the wish you did me the honour of intimating last session I have endeavoured to obtain information respecting Mr Magowan’s case1—I have not been successful though I have written to several gentlemen at & near Annapolis.

The inclosed from Mr Duval, the Member, is an answer to a letter I wrote to him, uninformed as I was of his being attorney for the administrator. It may from some expressions perhaps be to a certain degree confidential.2

Inclosed I do myself the pleasure of restoring to you Mr Magowan’s letter. I am with most perfect respect Sir your most obedient Servant

W. V. Murray.


1James McGowan of Scotland had written GW on 28 Feb. 1794, complaining about the administration of the Maryland estate of his deceased brother Walter Magowan and asking for assistance. GW evidently gave that letter to Murray and asked him to make inquiries.

2Gabriel Duvall (1752–1844), an Annapolis lawyer, represented Maryland in Congress from November 1794 to March 1796. He later became an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. In his letter to Murray of 27 Aug. 1794, he reported that he could “add very little to what he [James McGowan] already knows from the Information of Mr Steuart his attorney.” According to the register of wills, “the amount of the Inventory is as stated by Mr Steuart, & also the debts,” but as the estate was not yet settled, “no further Information can be given.” As attorney for the administrators, Duvall had recovered some debts, “but the amount I cannot recollect.” Other cases had been unsuccessful. Duvall added that he believed William Steuart and his co-administrator, John Weems, “to be honest men, & able to answer any claim of Mr Magowan” (DLC:GW). Murray’s letter to Duvall has not been identified.

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