George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 24 April 1760]

Thursday April 24th. Visited my Quarters at Claibornes and found their business in tolerable forwardness. Also went to my other Quarter at [ ] where their was an insufficient quantity of Ground prepard—but all that coud be had—it was sd.

Dind at Mr. Bassetts and went in the Evening to Williamsburg.

claibornes: This Custis plantation lay in King William County on the neck of land the Pamunkey River forms just above Eltham. Containing an estimated 3,080 acres, nearly half of which were marsh, Claiborne’s was so named because Martha Washington’s first husband, Daniel Parke Custis, had purchased it 14–15 Dec. 1750 from the executors of William Claiborne (d. 1746) of Romancoke (survey by William Groveham 14–18 April 1789 and 25–29 Mar. 1791, Vi). When the Custis estate was apportioned among Martha and the two children, Claiborne’s was one of the plantations assigned to her by right of dower. As her second husband, GW was entitled to use the dower plantations as if they were his own, except that he could not sell them or encumber them “to the prejudice of her ultimate rights or those of her heirs,” for on her death the dower plantations were to go to John Parke Custis (FREEMAN description begins Douglas Southall Freeman. George Washington: A Biography. 7 vols. New York, 1948–57. description ends , 3:20). At this time 19 dower slaves worked at Claiborne’s, growing tobacco, wheat, and corn under the direction of the plantation’s overseer, John Roan (“Part of John Roan’s Crop—1759,” and “A List of Working Dower Negroes, where settld & under whose care, 1760,” DLC:GW; both lists are at the beginning of the 1760 Virginia Almanack in which GW kept his diary for this year).

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