George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Ann Fairfax Washington, September–November 1749

To Ann Fairfax Washington

[September–November 1749]

Editorial Note The principal Washington documents extant for the years before 1752 are, in addition to the school exercises, a group of early surveys, a 1748 diary of a surveying expedition undertaken for Lord Fairfax in Virginia’s Northern Neck, and the journal kept by GW of his trip with his half brother Lawrence to Barbados in 1751–52.1 GW kept his diary entries for the Fairfax surveying trip, which he titled “A Journal of my Journey over the Mountains began Fryday the 11th of March 1747/8,” in a small notebook measuring 6 × 3¼ inches. Together with the daily entries for the journey, GW kept detailed surveying entries which are now relatively meaningless because of changes in the terrain.2 Also included in the notebook but obviously dating from a later period are copies of correspondence and random notes and memoranda: A “List of the Peoples Names that I have Warrants for,”3 several fragmentary poems, and eight undated letters. The recipients of four of these letters are indicated only by first names, two letters are unaddressed, and the two remaining are to Ann Fairfax Washington and Lord Fairfax. In addition to putting the small volume to use as a letter book, GW also made a few random fragmentary notes dealing with surveying and his reading.4 The items in the notebook printed in this volume are: GW to Ann Fairfax Washington, Sept.–Nov. 1749; to Thomas, Lord Fairfax, Oct.–Nov. 1749; to Robin, 1749–50; to ——, 1749–50; to John, 1749–50; to Sally, 1749–50; and to Richard, 1749–50. The four memoranda and two poems appear under the date 1749–50.

[September–November 1749]

I heartily Congratulate you on the happy News of my Brothers safe arrival in health in England5 and am joy’d to hear that his stay is likely to be so short I hope you’l make Use of your Natural Resolution and contendness as they are the only Remedys to spend the time with ease & pleasure to yourself. I am deprived of the pleasure of waiting on you (as I expected) by Aguee and Feaver which I have had to Extremety since I left which has occasioned my Return D[own].6


Ann Fairfax Washington (d. 1761) was the wife of GW’s half brother Lawrence Washington and the daughter of William Fairfax of Belvoir.

1For an account of GW’s early surveying activities, see “George Washington’s Professional Surveys,” 22 July 1749–25 Oct. 1752. For the 1748 diary, see Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 1:1–23; for the Barbados diary, see ibid., 24–117.

2The name of each person for whom the expedition made surveys appears in the notes to the 1748 diary.

4Among the entries are: “If you cant find it in the Book of Ezekiel look for it in Israel”; “The Meanders of the River”; “What’s the Noblest Passion of the Mind.” A few of the longer fragments have been included in the notes to the letters.

5In the early summer of 1749 Lawrence Washington sailed to England both for his health and to do business for the Ohio Company. See GW to Lawrence Washington, 5 May 1749; first Memorandum, 1749–50, n.1. He was back in Virginia by Mar. 1750 (Augustine Washington to Lawrence Washington, 19 July 1749, DLC:GW; Mulkearn, George Mercer Papers description begins Lois Mulkearn, ed. George Mercer Papers Relating to the Ohio Company of Virginia. Pittsburgh, 1954. description ends , 5, 141, 169).

6For GW’s movements in the fall of 1749, see GW to Thomas Fairfax, Oct.–Nov. 1749, source note. A fragmentary note in the 1748 diary is a

“Memorandum of what clothes I Carry into Fairfax Razor

  • 7 Shirts 2 Do Carrd by Mr. Thornton
  • 6 Linnen Waistcoats
  • 1 Cloth Do
  • 6 Bands
  • 4 Neck Cloths
  • 7 Caps”

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