George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Alexander Spotswood, 4 November 1797

From Alexander Spotswood

Newpost, November 4th 1797

Dear Sir

Your favr of the 1st Inst. came to hand yesterday; I am happy that you have the prospect of geting a house keeper for Mrs Washington & hope she may please.

Rawlings being at present engaged, can Suffer no inconvenience Therefore I shall keep him in Suspence for ten days, for fear you may be disapointed in the Woman you expect—should this be the case, you can then resort to Rawlins, should you chuse him, in which case, you will please inform me.1

Respecting your Kentucky lands, I wrote you fully In September, and with my own hand put the letter into the box at the post office; and as it did not require an answer, and presumeing it would get Safe to hand—was the reason I said nothing on this Subject in my last—but as it appears to have mis-carried, I will repeat again.2

Before my Visit to Mt Vernon In August last—I wrote to the Register of the land office in Richmond—informed him of the Claim Stevens (which is the mans name) put up to 2600 acrees of this land;3 Inclosed him the Copies of the patents of these two tracts of land, which I recd from Lee, at the time I made the purchase of him; & desired he would forward me every record from his office Respecting these two tracts.

This letter I gave to Mr Robt Brooke open—and desired his Attention to the Business. In three days after I came home; I recd a letter from the Register, Incloseing back the Pattents; and every Record relating to these lands, from the face of which; it appears Stevenses claim is without foundation.4

However to Reduce the Business to a certainty; I embraced the opportunity of general Possie going to Kentucky, to give him a State Similar to the one given to the register of the land office here; and inclosed him the two pattents, and the records obtained from the office in Richmond; and requested, on his arriveal at Loisville, (falls of Ohio)—to apply to Brackenrige at his office, & shew him my State, which details Stevenses claim; & get from Brackenrige, every record, in his office Respecting this land, and on his way to Lexington to call on Stevens; and compare papers. this letter &c. I put into the hands of Mr Maury; who informs me, it was with Several of his own, delivered to General Possie, to whoom I have written two letters since, pressing him to Investigate this Bussiness fully, and have not the least doubt of an exact compliance,5 and so soon as he returns you shall have every information from dr Sr Yr Sincerely Affectionate & ob. st

A. Spotswood

The family desires to be remembered affectily to all at Mr Vernon. P.S. The Servant of my Brother in law Mr Wm Washington has just arrived here—he Says his Master and all the family are well, except poor Austin, who is very low—Indeed my Eldest son was from Haywood About fifteen days ago—and Said poor Austin could not possible recover, poor gentleman he is much to be pitied—his misfortunes in a few years has been great.6


2For GW’s Kentucky lands, see Spotswood to GW, 22 Mar. 1797, n. 1.

3For the probable identity of Stevens, see Spotswood to GW, 22 July 1797, n.3.

5“General Possie” is Thomas Posey. Alexander Breckinridge (1752-1801), who had served during the Revolutionary War as a lieutenant and captain in Col. Nathaniel Gist’s Additional Continental Regiment, served as surveyor for Jefferson County in 1785-98, and represented the county at the 1787 Danville Convention that looked toward the creation of Kentucky as a separate state. He was the half-brother of Kentucky senator John Breckinridge; step-father of Virginia congressman and governor John Floyd; and father of Kentucky congressman James Douglas Breckinridge. “Mr Maury” may be Richard Maury of Spotsylvania County with whom Spotswood and Henry Lee reached an agreement regarding Maury’s purchase of a tract of land in that county (Crozier, Spotsylvania County description begins William Armstrong Crozier, ed. Spotsylvania County, 1721–1800: Being Transcriptions, from the Original Files at the County Court House, of Wills, Deeds, Administrators’ and Guardians’ Bonds, Marriage Licenses, and Lists of Revolutionary Pensioners. New York, 1905. description ends , 497). On the other hand, Richard Maury cannot be found to have owned land in Kentucky, whereas both Fontaine Maury, who in 1785 married Gov. Robert Brooke’s only sister, Elizabeth, and several of his brothers did own land in Kentucky (Jillson, Old Kentucky Entries, description begins Willard Rouse Jillson. Old Kentucky Entries and Deeds: A Complete Index to All of the Earliest Land Entries, Military Warrants, Deeds and Wills of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Louisville, Ky., 1926. description ends 128).

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