To Samuel Mickle Fox
Mount Vernon 10th June 1799
Two Bonds due to me, the one from Matthew Richie Esqr., deceased, the other from Colo. Israel Shreve, have been deposited in the Bank of Pennsylvania for Collection.
On each an Instalment was due, and to have been paid into that Bank, on the first day of June 1798; and another on the first day of the present month.
From the Executors of Colo. Ritchie I did, in the course of last sum[mer], receive $1700—and this is all I have received on both Bonds.1
Let me pray you to inform me, if any more has been paid into the Bank? and if not, whether any intimation has been given to it, that it will be done?2 I am unwilling to put the Bonds in suit, if the money could be obtained without: But my want of it is such, that I must have recourse to this expedient soon, if the end cannot be accomplished without—With esteem, I am—Sir Your Most Obedt Hble Servant
ALS, NAlI. GW addressed this letter to “The President of the Bank of Pennsylvania.”
Samuel Mickle Fox (1763–1808) was president of the Bank of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia from 1796 until his death.
1. Matthew Ritchie in 1796 bought GW’s 2,813–acre Millers Run tract in Washington County, Pa., for $12,000; the year before Israel Shreve bought GW’s 1,644–acre tract in Fayette County, Pa., called Washington’s Bottom, for £3,200 (£4,000 Pennsylvania currency). For Ritchie’s purchase of the Millers Run tract, see Oliver Wolcott, Jr., to GW, 31 May 1797, n.2, in Papers, Retirement Series description begins W. W. Abbot et al., eds. The Papers of George Washington, Retirement Series. 4 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1998–99. description ends , 1:165; for Shreve’s purchase of the Washington’s Bottom tract, see Shreve to GW, 22 June 1785, source note, in Papers, Confederation Series description begins W. W. Abbot et al., eds. The Papers of George Washington, Confederation Series. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1992–97. description ends , 3:74. With this letter to Fox, GW initiated in June 1799 a final effort to secure payment of what remained due him for these properties. Fox promptly informed GW that no new payments on either had been made to GW’s account at the Bank of Pennsylvania (see note 2). In early July GW learned from Judge Alexander Addison that Addison from the beginning had been a silent partner of Matthew Ritchie in the purchase of the Millers Run tract, and he at the same time received from Addison the rest of what was due for Addison’s half share of the property (see Addison to GW, 6 July). Matthew Ritchie died in February or March 1798. As no payments had been made by Ritchie’s estate, both Fox and Addison, as well as James Ross, who had acted as GW’s agent in the sale of both the Millers Run and Washington’s Bottom tracts, now encouraged Ritchie’s widow and Ritchie’s brother John to pay GW what he was owed (see Fox to GW, 2 July, Addison to GW, 6 July, 8 Nov., and Ross to GW, 24 July). GW, however, reported to Addison on 24 Nov., shortly before his own death, that he had received nothing from the Ritchies. As for Shreve, GW on 10 Jan. 1799 had put him on notice that unless by the following April he had made the payments due in June 1798 on the purchase of the Washington’s Bottom tract, the sheriff would execute an outstanding writ to seize his property in payment. GW wrote James Ross on 26 June 1799 about this, and on 24 July Ross wrote that he had just returned to Philadelphia and would instruct the sheriff to proceed with the seizure. He also reported that Shreve was very ill. Shreve died shortly thereafter, and there is no further reference to him or to his debt in GW’s correspondence and no record of any payments has been found in GW’s accounts. Among other letters at this time relating to the payments due from Ritchie and Shreve are those from GW to Fox of 26 June and 14 July and from Fox to GW of 20 July. GW indicates in his Ledger C description begins Manuscript Ledger in Morristown National Historical Park, Morristown, N.J. description ends , 12, that he received a total of $10,032.70 in payments for the Millers Run tract and $7,064.63 for the Washington’s Bottom tract. See also Ledger C description begins Manuscript Ledger in Morristown National Historical Park, Morristown, N.J. description ends , 22, 24, 25, 27, 40, 48, and 53.
2. Writing from Philadelphia on 13 June, Fox acknowledged the receipt of GW’s letter and then reported: “No payments have been made into this Bank upon the bonds of M. Ritchie or I. Shreve deposited here for collection; neither has any intimation been given of an intention to pay the instalments due upon them. On the 12th of April last a deposit of two hundred & fifty dollars was made to the credit of James Ross Esqr. as your Agent by a person who said that he was directed so to do by Mr Ross. If this Institution can be any ways serviceable to you in enforcing the collection of these debts permit me to assure you that such measures as you may be pleased to direct shall be immediately taken” (DLC:GW). See also GW to Fox, 26 June.