George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Fitzgerald, William Herbert, and George Gilpin, 22 November 1797

To John Fitzgerald, William Herbert, and George Gilpin

Mount Vernon 22d Novr 1797.


On Monday last, in Alexandria, Colo. Marstellar applied to me to rent my lot with the house on it in that place for three years, from the expiration of the year for wch it is now engaged (at Sixty pounds until Feby).1

I answered, that I was well disposed to receive him as a tenant and for the term above mentioned, but was unable to fix the rent then; being unacquainted with such as were usual in Alexandria, or might be expected within that period; but that I would leave it to you three Gentlemen, or any two of you who should agree, to say what it should be. And moreover to enumerate what indispensable repairs it would be indispensably necessary for me to make again, it not being long since the houses & inclosure were put into complete order.2

Your compliance with the request will very much oblige me, and I shall hope to be excused for the trouble it will give you. Be assured of the Esteem & regard of Your most obedt Hble Servant

Go: Washington

ALS (letterpress copy), NN: Washington Papers; LB, DLC:GW.

1On 9 May 1763 GW purchased two half-acre lots in Alexandria, no. 112 at the corner of Prince and Pitt streets and no. 118 at the corner of Cameron and Pitt. In 1769 he began construction of a town house on the Cameron Street lot, and the work continued until sometime in 1771. See Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 2:182–83, and 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 , 7:490, n.8.

2GW enclosed this letter in a letter of this day to Philip Marsteller, to which Marsteller immediately replied. GW’s letter reads: “Sir, The enclosed results from our conversation on Monday last. It is left open for your perusal & presentation; and I shall consider the decision of these Gentlemen to whom it is addressed, as obligatory on me.

“As no time ought to be lost in securing the stone work of the stable, I now authorise you, to get it effectually done upon the best terms you can, without awaiting for their report, and without delay, to avoid accidents, & a greater expence—With esteem—I am Sir Your Obedt Hble Servt Go: Washington” (letterpress copy, NN: Washington Papers; LB DLC:GW).

To this Marsteller replied from Alexandria later in the day: “I have recd your kind favor Covering an open Letter directed to Messrs Fitzgarald Gilpin & Herbert respecting the Business we Spoke of Monday last—I shall apprize them of the appointment as Soon as possable—and shall without delay Cause Such repairs to be made as may accumolate expence by waiting for their Opinion, any thing of this kind will be done on the most Saving Scale” (DLC:GW). Philip Marsteller (c.1742–1804), a merchant in Alexandria who in the 1780s had acted as GW’s commission agent in the town (see GW to Marsteller, 15 Dec. 1786), had already occupied GW’s house when Fitzgerald, Herbert, and Gilpin made their report to GW from Alexandria on 17 Jan. 1798: “Agreeable to your desire we have Viewd the house and lot belonging to you which is now Occupied by Colo. Philip Marsteller it appears that the following repairs may be necessary, to wit, the Stable to be under pinned with a good wall on the north side and the left door mended the gate and fence on Pitt Street and the Dividing fence on the South Side to be repaird, in the house there are three Hearths and Some pieces of plaster to be repaired, and we are of Opinion that Sixty Six pounds pr annum will be a Reasonable rent for the house and lot” (DLC:GW).

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