James Madison Papers

To James Madison from James Madison, Sr., 10 June 1784

From James Madison, Sr.

June 10th. 1784—9 O’Clock P. M.

Mr. Mordicai Barbour, by whom you will receive this, is just from Kentucky1 & informs us that one John Stanley & George Wilson has entered a Caveat against a Patent issuing for our 40 000 Acres of Land on Pant[h]er Creek & also part of Col. Mason’s, for not being surveyed according to the entry & has entered them with the Surveyor.2 Who is blameable for this piece of fatal misconduct I am not certain. I have not time to look into the Law, but am inform’d that all Caveats are to be tryed in the Western district & that there is no appeal allowed from that Court, if there is, perhaps it may be prudent to engage Mr. Randolph for the Company; but I expect you will receive fuller advice from some of the Partners.

I am inform’d there are many scandalous advantages taken by some persons who constantly attends the Offices to examine if the surveys are litterally made according to the entries, & that the entries are properly made. Mr. Harry Green inform’d me to day that my Surveys on Elk Horn are entered by two other persons & surveyed by one of them & a Caveat entered against it by another; their entries are later than mine which it seems was to begin at a S. E. corner of the adjacent entry which it seems had no corners but the cardinal Points, so that it is probable I may have a dispute abt. that, & perhaps lose the Land. I hope the legislators will take up the Matter this Session & put a Stop to such unreasonable practices.

I wish you would let me hear from you & inform me what you have done with my Tobo. & how many Hhds you have recd—some was lodged on the Road & I can’t learn what is done with it. Have you recd. the Money from Messrs. Anderson’s? If you have a safe hand send me the Money for Mr. Jones, or to Mr. Abram Maury at Fredg about £360. will be sufficient. I expect—he has recd. the £144 I got of Mr. Winslow, which you must make up £170 & pay it to the Treasurer for him. I observe in the Catalogue you left with me Burrows Reports3. are mentioned 3 Vol. I am told there are 4 or 5 Vol. published. Would you have them all wrote for, or only 3 Volumes? The messenger is waiting so must conclude, Your Affectionate Father

James Madison

Fanny is gone to Fredk. with her Sister4

RC (ViU). The salutation is made illegible by a tear in the Ms. Addressed to JM at Richmond and, “Favoured by Mr. Morda. Barbour.”

1A Mordecai Barbour was a Revolutionary War pensioner in Orange County until the middle of the next century. In all likelihood Barbour was speculating in western lands where the family left its mark. Barboursville is the county seat of Knox County, Kentucky, and there is a Barbour County in West Virginia. James and Thomas Barbour were among the largest speculators in Kentucky lands, with extensive holdings on the Green River and Panther Creek (W. W. Scott, History of Orange County, p. 250; Gwathmey, Historical Register of Virginians description begins John H. Gwathmey, Historical Register of Virginians in the Revolution: Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, 1775–1783 (Richmond, 1938). description ends , p. 39).

2After enactment of the 1779 Virginia land settlement law, many Virginians began exercising their land warrants in the Kentucky district. “Col. Mason” was George Mason of Gunston Hall, who sought to patent 53,000 acres in the vicinity of Panther Creek and the Green River. George Wilson was an official surveyor who had been accused of using his office to seek flaws in the surveys of others and then to file caveats against them (which prevented issuance of a clear title). A memorandum supporting Mason’s right to the Panther Creek tract is in DLC: Madison Papers (Rutland, Papers of George Mason, III, 867–68).

3James Burrow, Reports of Cases Adjudged in the Court of King’s Bench, since the Death of Lord Raymond; in four parts … (5 vols.; London, 1766–1780). The title page gives the incorrect impression that three earlier sections exist.

4“Fanny” was JM’s sister Frances (1774–1823), and “her Sister,” Mrs. Isaac (Nelly Conway Madison) Hite (1758–1836), lived at Belle Grove, Frederick County.

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