George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 11 March 1748]

Fryday March 11th. 1747/8. Began my Journey in Company with George Fairfax Esqr.; we travell’d this day 40 Miles to Mr. George Neavels in Prince William County.

The two dates used by GW are explained by the difference between New Style and Old Style dating. Until 1752 England, Ireland, and the colonies followed the Julian Calendar (Old Style). Under England’s interpretation of the Julian Calendar the new year began on 25 Mar. Because the year under the Julian Calendar was 365 days 6 hours, by the sixteenth century a considerable surplus had accumulated, moving the vernal equinox from 21 to 11 Mar. The error was corrected in 1582 by the Gregorian Calendar (New Style), adopted by most European countries. By 1752, when Great Britain adopted the Gregorian Calendar, the displacement was 11 days.

George Neville (Neavil) (d. 1774), a planter and land speculator, had settled on Cedar Run, then in Prince William County (now in Fauquier County), as early as 1730. Although Neville was not licensed to keep an ordinary until 1759, the location of his house at the juncture of the Carolina Road and a branch of the Dumfries Road made it a convenient stopping place for travelers. As early as 1743, Neville had acquired a tract of 181 acres in Prince William and had also made extensive purchases of land in Frederick County. In 1750 GW was engaged to survey for him some 400 acres of “Waste & ungranted Land” in Frederick belonging to the Fairfax proprietary and adjoining George William Fairfax’s property (warrant for survey, 13 Oct. 1750, DLC:GW; survey, 30 Oct. 1750, owned by Mr. Sol Feinstone, Washington Crossing, Pa.). The deed to Neville from Lord Fairfax is dated 20 Nov. 1750 (Mr. Sol Feinstone).

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