George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 3 January 1760]

Thursday Jany. 3d. The Weather continuing Bad & the same causes subsisting I confind myself to the House.

Morris who went to work Yesterday caught cold, and was laid up bad again—and several of the Family were taken with the Measles, but no bad Symptoms seemd to attend any of them.

Hauled the Sein and got some fish, but was near being disappointd of my Boat by means of an Oyste⟨r⟩ Man who had lain at my Landing and plagud me a good deal by his disorderly behaviour.

morris: Because Mrs. Washington’s first husband died without a will, his property was divided according to English common law, which allowed the widow one-third of the property for her life only (called her right of dower), after which it would revert to their children or their descendants (BLACK [2] description begins Henry Campbell Black. Black’s Law Dictionary: Definitions of the Terms and Phrases of American and English Jurisprudence, Ancient and Modern. Rev. 4th ed. St. Paul, 1968. description ends , 580–81). Upon her marriage to GW, all of Martha’s property came under his control during her lifetime, including her share of the slaves from the Custis estate. One of her “dower slaves” that was transferred to Mount Vernon by GW was Morris (born c.1730), who worked as a carpenter 1760–63, a tradesman 1764–65, and overseer of GW’s Dogue Run plantation 1766–94. Morris’s wife was Hannah, who, with a child, had been purchased by GW from William Cloptan 16 June 1759 for £80 (General Ledger A description begins General Ledger A, 1750–1772. Library of Congress, George Washington Papers, Series 5, Financial Papers. description ends , folio 56). Morris and Hannah were married c.1765 when both were transferred to the Dogue Run plantation. Like most large planters, GW referred to his plantation workers collectively either as his “people” or his “family.”

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