George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 10 February 1787]

Saturday 10th. Mercury at 30 in the Morning—38 at Noon and 36 at Night.

Clear but raw and cold the Wind being pretty fresh all day from the So. Et. In the Night it blew very hard.

After breakfast Doctr. La Moyeur again set out & soon after Docter Craik went away.

I went into the Neck to run the outer lines of my land there bounded by Mr. Mason and Mr. Alexander and to ascertain lines for the fences of the Plantation let Major Geo. Washington.

Meeting with Mr. Edwd. Williams I bought his lease for 20 pds. and some other priviledges wch. I agreed to allow him.

bounded by mr. mason: This land, consisting of four tracts totaling 676 acres, had formerly been owned by Col. George Mason. He had transferred it to his son Thomson Mason by deeds of 1781 and 1786 (Fairfax County Deeds, Book Q–1, 249–54). The younger Mason began building his home, Hollin Hall, on the property at about this time, and he and his wife, Sarah McCarty Chichester Mason, and their children moved into the new house in Dec. 1788 (COPELAND description begins Pamela C. Copeland and Richard K. MacMaster. The Five George Masons: Patriots and Planters of Virginia and Maryland. Charlottesville, Va., 1975. description ends , 237–38).

plantation let major geo. washington: Although George Augustine Washington and his wife, Fanny, had made their home at Mount Vernon since their marriage, in a statement to George on 25 Oct. 1786 GW wrote that “to make that situation more stable and pleasing . . . it is my present intention to give you, at my death, my landed property in the neck; containing by estimation, between two and three thousand acres . . . And under this expectation and prospect, that you may, moreover, when it prefectly suits your inclination and convenience, be preparing for, and building thereon by degrees.” GW stressed that he did not intend this as a hint for the young couple to prepare another home. “To point you to a settlement which you might make at leizure, and with convenience, was all I had in view. More than once I have informed you that in proportion as age and its concomitants encrease upon me, I shall stand in need of some person in whose industry and integrity I can confide, for assistance.” GW added that “no other married couple could give, or probably would receive the same satisfaction by living in it [the Mount Vernon family] that you do” and that with George’s help he would be able “to manage my concerns without having recourse to a Steward, which comports neither with my interest nor inclination to employ” (GW to George Augustine Washington, 25 Oct. 1786, WRITINGS description begins John C. Fitzpatrick, ed. The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745–1799. 39 vols. Washington, D.C., 1931–44. description ends , 29:28–31). Young Washington stayed on as manager at Mount Vernon until his death in 1793. It was he who managed the estate during GW’s absence at the Constitutional Convention and during the early years of the presidency.

Edward Williams had a lease on some of William Clifton’s land in the neck when GW purchased it in 1760 (see entry for 5 Dec. 1772). In 1782 Williams had 12 whites and no slaves in his household, and in 1785 he still had 10 whites (HEADS OF FAMILIES, VA. description begins Heads of Families at the First Census of the United States Taken in the Year 1790: Virginia; Records of the State Enumerations, 1782 to 1785. 1908. Reprint. Baltimore, 1970. description ends , 17, 86). In 1786 one Edward Williams was exempted by the Fairfax County court from paying any further taxes (Fairfax Index description begins Edith Moore Sprouse, ed. A Surname and Subject Index of the Minute and Order Books of the County Court, Fairfax County, Virginia, 1749–1800. Fairfax County History Commission. Fairfax, Va., 1976. description ends , 2:15).

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