George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Charles Williamson, 19 January 1798

To Charles Williamson

Mount Vernon 19th of Jany 1798.


Mr Burwell, who will present this letter to you, having become, or is likely to become, a Proprietor of Lands in the Genessee country, and purposing to make a tour into it; has asked me for a letter of introduction to you, who is so well acquainted therewith, and so able to give him the information he wishes to possess.1

Although to do this is a liberty I am scarcely warranted to take, yet as Mr Burwell is a stranger to you, & one with whom I have had the pleasure of a long acquaintance; know his worth; the respectability of his family in this State; and that you cannot extend your usual politeness to a more deserving character, I persuade my self that I shall be excused for doing it: especially as it affords me an opportunity of assuring you, that I am Sir, Your Obedt Hble Servant

Go: Washington

ALS, ICN. The letter is addressed to “Captn Williamson Genessee Favoured by Lewis Burwell Esqr.”

Charles Williamson (1757–1808), a former British army officer, was the manager of a tract of 1,200,000 acres in western New York acquired from Robert Morris by three English speculators. Until his decision to return to Britain in 1802, Williamson was very active in promoting the sale of land to settlers.

1On 14 Jan. “Mr. Lewis Burwell came to dinner” at Mount Vernon, and on 15 Jan. he “went away” (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 6:277). This Lewis Burwell probably is the one sometimes identified as Lewis Burwell V, eldest son of Col. Lewis Burwell (1716–1784) of Kingsmill. He lived in Richmond and in a suit brought against his father’s estate pleaded in 1798 no assets left in the estate (Simpson, Legends of Carter’s Grove, description begins Alan Simpson. The Legends of Carter’s Grove and Other Mysteries: A Selection of Essays from the Journal of Colonial Williamsburg. Williamsburg, Va., 1993. description ends 73).

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