George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 23 October 1799]

23. Morning clear & calm. Mer. at 42. Clear all day wind coming out from the No. West but not fresh. Mer. 49 at Night. Mr. Herbert—Mr. & Mrs. Patton—Mr. [ ] Mr. Gilmar came to dinner. The last stayed all Night.

mr. & mrs. patton: probably James Patton (Patten) and his wife, Ann Patton, who was sometimes listed on official records as Mary Ann (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 , 2:87). Mrs. Patton was probably a daughter of Mrs. Ann Clifton Slaughter. mr. gilmar: probably either the Baltimore merchant Robert Gilmor (1748–1822) or his son Robert Gilmor, Jr. (1773–1848). During the Revolution, when the ports of Charleston, Norfolk, Philadelphia, and New York were blockaded or captured, trade from Baltimore remained relatively unhindered and the prospering city attracted the older Gilmor from Maryland’s Eastern Shore. In 1782 the young Baltimore merchant entered a partnership with the wealthy and powerful William Bingham (see entry for 21 May 1787). As a result of the death of one of the other partners, the firm was reorganized under the name of Robert Gilmor & Co. two years later (Pa. Mag., 61 [1937], 396–97). Gilmor’s ensuing success led a member of the famous Baring family to remark in 1799 that the older Gilmor was “by far the best merchant in the United States” and “the family looks likely to last” (ALBERTS description begins Robert C. Alberts. The Golden Voyage: The Life and Times of William Bingham, 1752–1804. Boston, 1969. description ends , 415). That same year the business did become a family concern when Gilmor’s sons, including Robert Gilmor, Jr., became partners in the firm and its name changed to Robert Gilmor & Sons. The younger Gilmor became famous for his philanthropy and support of the arts in Baltimore, but he also used his wealth to put together a valuable autograph collection. This hobby may be the reason why Jared Sparks sent Gilmor the page from GW’s diary containing the above entry (obituary in the Baltimore American, 2 Dec. 1848, quoted in Md. Hist. Mag., 17 [1922], 231; Pa. Mag., 14 [1880], 182; see also illus., I:xliii).

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