George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 15 October 1799]

15. Morning clear—Wind No. Westerly. Mer. 60. Clear all day & very pleasant. Mer. 60 at Night. A Mr. Bourdieu of the House of Bourdieu, Chollet & Bordieu of London (accompanied by a Mr. Gardner)—Mr. Gill & Mr. B. Bassett dined here. The three first went away afterwards.

Mr. Bourdieu is either James Bourdieu or his son James, both partners in the important London firm of Bourdieu, Chollet & Bourdieu. The Bourdieus were a settled Huguenot family, probably seventeenth-century immigrants to England. The third partner, Samuel Chollet, was a Swiss, a former clerk in the business who had become a partner c.1769. Bourdieu, Chollet & Bourdieu remained in business at the same address in London from the 1740s to the 1840s. Their main interest was in trade with France, but their widespread concerns reached to many other areas, including North America and the West Indies. In the 1760s the company had been London agent for the French East India Company and from c.1771 until at least 1791 was agent of the French government in making large purchases of wheat and flour in North America to supplement scarce French supplies. During the 1770s and 1780s the company engaged in a protracted struggle with other important British firms for the contract to supply tobacco to France. The importance of the Bourdieu firm began to diminish after 1800 (PRICE [2] description begins Jacob M. Price. France and the Chesapeake: A History of the French Tobacco Monopoly, 1674–1791, and of Its Relationship to the British and American Tobacco Trades. 2 vols. Ann Arbor, Mich., 1973. description ends , 2:687–88, 739–40, 798–800, 1066).

John Gill, whom GW termed “late of Alexandria,” came to Mount Vernon to discuss his rental payments for GW’s land on Difficult Run (GW to Charles Little, 20 Nov. 1799, DLC:GW).

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