George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 27 March 1788]

Thursday 27th. Thermometer at 36 in the Morning—47 at Noon and 46 at Night. Clear with the Wind at No. Wt. but not hard. Ground frozen hard. Towards Noon it became calm and in the evening a breeze from the Southward.

Went to Alexandria (consequent of a Summons, to give evide. in a Suit betwn. the Admrs. of Mr. Custis and Mr. Robt. Alexander) dined at Colo. Hooes & returned in the evening. Mrs. Washington, Mrs. Stuart, & Colo. Humphreys also dind. at Colo. Hooes.

Passed thro’ Muddy hole Plantation where grass-seeds were harrowing in on the Barley, & the ground cross harrowing.

The Plows had begun this Morning to cross for Oats as ordered Yesterday. The Women of this place, except those who were engaged with the Plows & Harrows came yesterday to, and were engaged to day in, the Ground in front of the Mansion House—preparing it for Corn.

Dr. David Stuart had succeeded Bartholomew Dandridge as administrator of John Parke Custis’s estate after Dandridge’s death in the spring of 1785. The suit between the estate and Robert Alexander concerned the Abingdon property which Custis had bought from Alexander in 1778 at a price that GW considered embarrassingly exorbitant (see entry for 12 Mar. 1785). In dispute now was the mode of payment: whether or not the price and the compound interest on it could be paid before the end of the 24 years given for payment, thereby saving the estate a great amount of interest, and whether or not the payment had to be made in specie or could be rendered in any currency, including inflated Revolutionary money. The documents passed between Custis and Alexander were vague or contradictory on these points, and apparently no reliable witnesses to the transaction could be found. It was, as GW exclaimed, “a very strange Affair” (GW to Stuart, 21 Sept. 1789 and 23 Mar. 1790, Stuart to GW, 2 April 1790, DLC:GW; GW to Stuart, 11 April 1790, ViMtvL). GW, who had washed his hands of John Parke Custis’s business matters many years earlier, was involved in the suit only as acting guardian of George Washington Parke Custis, principal heir to the estate. The suit was later settled out of court with Alexander agreeing to take the property back in return for a fair rent paid for the period during which Custis and his administrators had held it (HENING description begins William Waller Hening, ed. The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619. 13 vols. 1819–23. Reprint. Charlottesville, Va., 1969. description ends , 13:99–100; STETSON [1] description begins Charles W. Stetson. Four Mile Run Land Grants. Washington, D.C., 1935. description ends , 25–31).

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