George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 8 October 1770]

8. My Servant being unable to Travel I left him at Pritchards with Doctr. Craik & proceedd. myself with Vale. Crawford to Colo. Cresaps in ordr. to learn from him (being just arrivd from England) the particulars of the Grant said to be lately sold to Walpole1 & others, for a certain Tract of Country on the Ohio. The distance from Pritchards to Cresaps according to Computation is 26 Miles, thus reckond; to the Fort at Henry Enochs2 8 Miles (road exceedg. bad) 12 to Cox’s3 at the Mouth of little Cacapehon and 6 afterwards.

1Undoubtedly one of the factors which prompted GW’s trip to the Ohio in the fall of 1770 to examine western lands was information concerning a new land scheme being promoted in England. The project had grown out of negotiations between Thomas Walpole, a prominent British politician, and Samuel Wharton, Philadelphia merchant and land speculator. The plan called for the acquisition of an initial grant of 2,400,000 acres from the crown, later increased to some 20,000,000 acres, which would have encompassed much of the area of Kentucky, southwestern Pennsylvania, and the western part of West Virginia. The proposal included a plan to establish a new colony to be called Vandalia. In Dec. 1769 the Grand Ohio Company was formed to further the scheme. At its height the new company included such influential Englishmen as Thomas Pownall, Lord Hertford, Richard Jackson, George Grenville, Anthony Todd, and William Strahan and such prominent Americans as the Whartons, Benjamin Franklin, Sir William Johnson, George Croghan, and William Trent. On 20 July 1770 the Board of Trade sent Virginia Governor Botetourt extensive information on the Walpole petition (P.R.O., C.O.5/1369, ff. 17–18), and on 9 Sept. and 5 Oct. GW wrote to the governor pointing out the conflict between the Walpole associates’ claims and the interests of Virginia (CLU-C, PPRF). It had soon become clear that the boundaries of the new grant would overlap the claims of the Mississippi Company (of which GW was a member) and those of the Ohio Company of Virginia and would encroach on the bounty lands claimed by veterans of the Virginia Regiment and the lands ceded to the “Suffering Traders” by the Six Nations, although some of these claims were recognized by the Walpole associates and concessions made to their holders (see sosin description begins Jack M. Sosin. Whitehall and the Wilderness: The Middle West in British Colonial Policy, 1760–1775. Lincoln, Neb., 1961. description ends , 181–209; abernethy description begins Thomas Perkins Abernethy. Western Lands and The American Revolution. 1937. Reprint. New York, 1959. description ends , 40–58; George Mercer to GW, 18 Dec. 1770, DLC:GW). For the reaction in Virginia to the proposed grant, see William Nelson to Lord Hillsborough, 18 Oct. 1770, JHB description begins H. R. McIlwaine and John Pendleton Kennedy, eds. Journals of the House of Burgesses of Virginia. 13 vols. Richmond, 1905–15. description ends , 1770–72, xxii-xxv.

Thomas Cresap had spent much of 1770 in England and had made a particular inquiry into the affairs of the new company (bailey [4] description begins Kenneth P. Bailey. Thomas Cresap, Maryland Frontiersman. Boston, 1944. description ends , 127). During their meeting on 8 Oct., Cresap gave GW extensive information about the new company including the fact that shares in the enterprise might be available from the members (see George Croghan to Joseph Wharton, Jr., 25 Oct. 1770, PHi: Sarah A. G. Smith Family Papers; GW to George Mercer, 22 Nov. 1771, DLC:GW). That GW was interested at least for a time in acquiring some interest in the Walpole company is indicated by the fact that he wrote to Croghan, 24 Nov. 1770, inquiring the latter’s price for his share in the new company (DLC:GW). He made similar inquiries of George Mercer in 1771 (GW to Mercer, 22 Nov. 1771, DLC:GW).

2Henry Enoch had received a grant on 22 April 1753 for 388 acres on Cacapon River based on a survey done for him by GW in 1750. He received a further grant of 271½ acres in Hampshire County in 1761 (Northern Neck Deeds and Grants, Book H, 280, Book K, 228, Vi Microfilm). See also keith [1] description begins Arthur L. Keith. “The Enoch (Enochs) Family.” Tyler’s Historical and Genealogical Quarterly Magazine 4 (1922–23): 442–45. description ends . Enoch’s fort, erected after Braddock’s Defeat, was built at the forks of the Great Cacapon River, on the road from Winchester in what is now Hampshire County, W.Va. GW had suggested the fort on a list of frontier defenses drawn up in 1756 (DLC:GW).

3Cox’s fort appears on Thomas Hutchins’s 1778 map at the mouth of the Little Cacapon River. It was apparently a supply center during the French and Indian War (koontz description begins Louis K. Koontz. The Virginia Frontier, 1754–1763. Baltimore, 1925. description ends , 114–15). GW had surveyed this area for Friend Cox, 25 April 1750 (DLC:GW).

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