George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Edmund Randolph, 12 April 1780

Morris Town 12th Apl 1780.

Dear Sir,

I mean to address you on a subject in the line of your profession, & to request that you will undertake the business, & prosecute it to a final, and as speedy an issue as circumstances will admit.

The business in which I would wish to employ you, is in a Suit in Chancery brought in the Honble the Genl Court by Richard Gravat & Mary Wroughton of London, & George Mercer—in whose behalf I act as an Attorney—against James & John Francis Mercer & Messrs Dick & Hunter. The enclosure No. 1 (the Copy of an Interlocutory decree passed in the Suit in November 1773) will show you on what footing the Matter was then placed. and No. 2 (the copy of a report by me, dated the 15th of Decr 1774) the proceedings in consequence with respect to it, on my part.

The papers concerning the Cause, antecedent to the Interlocutory decree, are lodged I presume in the Secretary’s Office, or will be found among your Fathers, as he was employed in it (There being none in my hands that I recollect) and to these I must refer you for obtaining such further & previous information of the nature of the dispute, & of the plaintiffs claims, as you may think it necessary to have; for at this distance of time my memory will not enable me to state them, with any degree of precision. I would mention however, that I believe the validity of the Mortgage, or deed from Colo. Mercer, either to Mr Gravat or Miss Wroughton—and of one executed by Mr James Mercer, under the idea of being his Attorney to Messrs Dick & Hunter, by way of counter-security, for some engagements they had entered into on acct of John Mercer Esqr. his Father, who had charged a settlement made on his sons with the payment of a certain part of his debts & the preference of the respective claims of the parties, make a part of the material points in dispute—and the consideration of the above deed of settlement made by Mr John Mercer in 1779 to his Sons—George & James—their subsequent advances or engagements in consequence, and the Accounts between them and his Estate, and themselves, another Material part. You will observe that such accts are mentioned in the Interlocutory decree, and an adjustment of them directed by Auditors or Referees appointed for the purpose, by the Court.

This remains still to be done, and as it seems to be essential in order to a final decree (a Matter for which I very sincerely wish) I must sollicit your good Offices in expediting it as far as it may be in your power. In a point so interesting & intricate as this, and on which so much may depend—it may be necessary probably, for Council to attend on the part of the pltffs: if it should, you will be pleased to Act upon the occasion as circumstances shall require & permit, either by attending the referees yourself, or employing some Gentleman to do it in whose abilities and knowledge you can confide. To promote the Auditing of these Accts is the primary object of writing to you by the present conveyance as I should be happy, if possible, to have yr business brought to a conclusion at the ensuing Court, and as this appears to be the first step to put it in a proper train.

I shall take occasion in the course of a few Weeks to write you again, and will then (if I can obtain them) transmit you a particular acct of the Sales under the Interlocutory Decree constituting the Total of the Sum mentioned in the copy of the report; Also a state of the transactions since, with respect to the business—of the Debts collected—of the application of the Money—& what proportion still remains unpaid.

I shall be very happy to hear from you, and to receive any instructions for the better conducting the business you may think proper to give me.

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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