George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 13 August 1797]

13. Wind rather variable with Showers in the afternoon. Mer. 79. General ⟨L.⟩ & ca. went away & Mr. Bourne and Mr. Lear came.

mer.: GW has inadvertently written “Mer.” twice in the MS. Mr. Bourne may be Sylvanus Bourne, who was vice-consul in Amsterdam about 1794 and in June 1797 was appointed consul general to the Batavian Republic. A notice in the Alexandria newspaper on 7 Nov. stated that he and his wife “sailed from Chester on Sunday last, in the ship Phoenix, for Amsterdam” (Columbian Mirror [Alexandria], 7 Nov. 1797).

Tobias Lear, whose second wife, Fanny Bassett Washington Lear, had died in late Mar. 1796, seems to have been living in Washington City. Lear, now a merchant in the Federal City, was also president of the Potowmack Company and was on his way to the Great Falls on company business (Lear to GW, 16 Aug. 1797, DLC:GW). Lear wrote GW a few weeks later that he was resolved to take up residence in the fall at Walnut Tree Farm, a section of Clifton’s Neck which GW had given to Fanny and George Augustine Washington in 1787 (see entry for 10 Feb. 1787). There he would take up farming and direct the studies of his “Charming boys”—Fanny Lear’s two orphan sons, George Fayette Washington (1790–1867) and Charles Augustine Washington (b. 1791), and his own child, Benjamin Lincoln Lear (c.1791–1832), the son of his first wife, Mary Long Lear. He had hoped to rent GW’s adjacent River Farm for the coming year, but the season was too far advanced and GW had already made other arrangements to farm the land himself (Lear to GW, 8 Sept. 1797, DLC:GW; GW to Lear, 11 Sept. 1797, NN: Washington Papers).

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