George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 29 April 1769]

29. Went up to Alexandria and Mr. Jno. Wests & returnd to Dinner.

John West, Jr., today agreed in writing to sell GW about 200 acres of land lying on the Potomac River next to the Mount Vernon tract for 43s. an acre. This land had been part of John Posey’s plantation by virtue of his wife Martha’s inheritance from her first husband, George Harrison. She had been given use of it for her lifetime only, and during the past year she had died. According to the terms of Harrison’s will, the land then automatically passed to John West, Jr., who as Harrison’s nephew was his nearest male descendant (Harrison’s will, 21 Nov. 1748, Fairfax County Wills, Book A–1, 260–61, Vi Microfilm). However, West was prevented from deeding the property to GW at this time because of a bitter dispute between West and Posey over the ownership of a thin strip along the Potomac, containing about 6 acres, on which Posey’s house and ferry were located. Posey had bought that strip from Thomas Marshall 21 Sept. 1757 for £6 sterling (Fairfax County Deeds, Book D–1, 477–78, Vi Microfilm), but West claimed that it belonged to him, saying that Marshall had no right to sell it to Posey because it was included in the bounds of Harrison’s land, which Harrison had bought from William Spencer before Marshall bought Spencer’s remaining land in the area. West had recently brought suit to force Posey off the strip, and GW was obliged to await the outcome of that case so that there would be no further confusion over titles or acreages (West’s agreement with GW, 29 April 1769, owned by Mr. Sol Feinstone, Washington Crossing, Pa.; West’s agreement with GW, 18 Sept. 1770, PHi: Gratz Collection).

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