George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Alexander Spotswood, 30 August 1798

From Alexander Spotswood

Newpost Augt 30 1798.

Dear Sir

Mrs Spotswood, myself and Daughter was much pleased on being inform’d last Saturday morning by Mr Herbert—that yr feever had abated—& by this we hope you begin to feel once more the Establishment of yr health.1

My Sons overseer—declines entering into Bussiness—aledgeing that his health will not permit him to do Justice to his employer.2

My Overseer Roger Farril Says he will Serve you—for £50 pr Annum—& the usual allowance of provission that you give yr overseers—he is a very capable Man—a good corn Maker—Sows grain Well, a good scythesman—and does bussiness Quick—his only faults are—Not paying Sufficient attention, to his pasture fence and Stocks.

and the principal reason for my not Keeping him—is owing to his having many connections—and acquaintances near him—who frequently on there return from fredericksburg Call on him—which not only draws of his attention from my bussiness—but I suppose occasions Some of my grain to be consumed by there horses—On the whole I think he may be Sd to be a good overseer.

The man I recommended for yr house overseer lives 40 Miles from this—& the Joiner 18—I will write to them immediately & give you as Speedy an answer as possible.3

My family desires to be presented in the most respectful & affectionate Manner to you Mrs Washington & Miss Custis—as well as dear ⟨Sir⟩ Yr Most Obt & Affe. Hb. st

A. Spotswood


1William Herbert dined at Mount Vernon on 19 Aug. (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 6:313). Because of his illness GW did not keep his diary in August after the twentieth of the month.

2This was probably Alexander Elliott Spotswood, Alexander Spotswood’s eldest son.

3When Spotswood was at Mount Vernon with his family on 11 Aug. (ibid., 312), GW discussed with him his plan to hire a new overseer at Mount Vernon and to replace his chief carpenter, John Neale. This led to Spotswood’s writing a series of letters to GW, beginning with this one (see Spotswood to GW, 11, 16, 23, 27 Sept.; see also GW to Spotswood, 14 and 24 September). On 11 Sept. Spotswood confirmed that an overseer of his named Roger Farrell would be willing to come to GW as overseer of Home House farm for £50 per annum, and he also reported that he had not yet received a reply from the farmer, Richard Rhodes, to whom he had written about his becoming the overseer of GW’s Home House farm. By 11 Sept. Spotswood had learned that the person whom he had had in mind for GW’s chief carpenter had become a millwright and was not available, but he reported that he had found a young joiner named Thomas Brooke who was very highly recommended and would come to GW as chief carpenter at Mount Vernon for £45 a year. GW wrote Spotswood on 14 Sept. that he was hiring George Rawlins, Albin Rawlins’s brother, as overseer of Union farm but that he had decided also to hire an overseer for Dogue Run farm at £45 per annum as well as one for Home House farm. GW asked Spotswood to offer the Dogue Run position to Rhodes and to ask Farrell to accept the position of overseer of Home House farm, at £40 a year with a seat at the table of the housekeeper at Mount Vernon. GW also instructed Spotswood to hire the carpenter Brooke for him at once and have Brooke come to Mount Vernon as soon as possible.

Both Farrell and Brooke accepted GW’s offers, and Brooke agreed to begin work at Mount Vernon in early October. See Spotswood to GW, 16, 23 September. Roger Farrell’s contract with GW to serve for a year as the overseer of Home House farm is dated 24 Nov. 1798.

When Spotswood failed to get a response from Rhodes, James Anderson suggested that GW have Spotswood approach an overseer of Fontaine Maury, named Garrett, about becoming overseer of Dogue Run farm, which Spotswood did (GW to Spotswood, 24 Sept.; Spotswood to GW, 27 September). Garrett was probably Robert Garrett who was overseer at Dogue Run by January 1799 (Mount Vernon Accounts, 1797–99, NjMoHP, f. 193).

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