To William Triplett
Mount Vernon 24th Sepr 1797.
I have examined my land papers, but find I possess none which relate to my purchase from Mr Simon Pea[r]son, all of them having been turned over, with my transfer, to Mr Lund Washington.
I can form no idea of what Grafton Kirk &ca are to exhibit in evidence on this occasion. I sincerely believe that all the proceedings in, & docking of, the entail of the land to which Mr Thos Pearson now sets up a claim, were strictly conformable to law, and of more validity than Grafton’s testimony; whose character, if I have not an erroneous impression of it, is not quite immaculate, but so much the reverse, as to be a ready witness upon all occasions. Nothing suggests itself to my mind as ground on which a suit can be instituted, unless it be alledged that some of the Jurors were not freeholders—a thing I never have heard surmised, and strange indeed to be proved, five and thirty years after their verdict was given and (as I presume) admitted to record.
The Deeds, if well drawn, do, no doubt, recite the case, & names of the Jurors, but admitting the foregoing mistake in the Sheriff, would a Court of equity suffer an innocent purchaser to sustain an injury from the misconception or inattention of that Officer to his duty? I think not.
You told me on Saturday that Simon Pearson left no legitimate children, and that his Brother Thomas was the lawful heir, but to whom has descended; or rather to whom did Simon (if he left a Will) bequeath his Estate? For if there be any irregularity in the process of docking the Entail, and Thos should, which I think not at all likely, recover the land for which he is contending, that estate must be resorted to: It cannot surely be in possession of Thomas, for in that case the contest wd be with himself, because he wd have to pay for all he obtained.1
When you know the result of the evidence you are summoned to hear, I shd be glad to be informed of it—& with esteem I am Sir—Yr Very Hble Servant
ALS (letterpress copy), NN: Washington Papers.
William Triplett (1730–1803) lived at Round Hill, about four miles northwest of Mount Vernon. Triplett did the brickwork and plasterwork when MountVernon was remodeled in the 1750s. On 27 Mar. 1760 he agreed with GW “to build the two houses in the Front of my House (plastering them also) and running Walls for Pallisades to them from the Great house & from the Great House to the Wash House and Kitchen also” (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 1:258). Triplett was a frequent foxhunting companion of GW’s before the Revolution.
1. Simon Pearson (c.1738–1797) died in the spring of 1797, leaving his entire estate to his brother Thomas, by a will made in January 1786 (Fairfax County Will Book G–1 [1794–99], 356). A few days before he made his will, Pearson deeded a 161–acre tract of land on the Leesburg road to his longtime companion Peletiah Grafford (Graffort) and, in remainder, to John Pearson, undoubtedly his natural son (deeds from Simon Pearson, Peletiah Grafford, and John Pearson to Charles Little, Fairfax County Deed Book X–1 [1794–95], 5–10, and Book Z–1 [1796–97], 435–42). For the suit that Thomas Pearson instituted after his brother Simon’s death in the spring of 1797 seeking the recovery of the 178 acres of land at Mount Vernon that GW had bought in 1763 from Simon Pearson, see GW to Bushrod Washington, 9 Oct., and notes to that document.