George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Augustine Washington, 28 May 1755

To John Augustine Washington

[Winchester, 28 May 1755]

To Mr Jno. Auge WashingtonMount Vernon
Dear Jack Brother

I came to this place last Night, and was greatly disappointed at not finding the Cavalry according to promise: I am obligd to wait till it does arrive, or till I can procure a guard from the Militia, either of which I suppose will detain me two days; as you may, with almost equal success, attempt to raize the Dead to Life again, as the force of this County; and that from Wills Creek cannot be expected in less than the aforementiond time without they are now upon their March.1

The Droughth in this County, if possible, exceeds what we see below; so that, it is very reasonably conjectur’d, they wont make Corn to suffice the People supply the Inhats; and as for Tobacco, they decline all thoughts have given up the expectation of making any.2

The Inhabitants of this place abound in News, but as I apprehend it is founded upon as much truth baseless a foundation as some I heard ion my way down, I think it advisable to forego the recital till a little better authority confirms the report3 and tThen you may expect to have a succinct acct narative of it.

I should be glad to hear that you live in perfect Harmony and good fellowship with the family at Belvoir, as it is in their power to be very serviceable upon many occasion’s to us as young beginner’s: I woud advise your visiting there often as one Step towards it the rest, if any more is necessary, your own good sense will sufficient dictate; for to that Family I am under many obligation⟨s⟩ particularly to the old Gentleman.4

Mrs Fairfax and Mrs Spearing5 having expressd an Inclination to hear whether I had a wish to be informed of the time, and manner of my reachingerasure ⟩ this place (with my charge safe) you may therefore acquaint them that, I met with no other Interruption, than what procd from the difficulty of gettg Horses6 after I found her’s for want of Shoes hers (Mrs Fairfax’s) grew lame, I was oblig’d to get a fresh horse one every 15 or 20 Miles, which render’d the journey tiresome tedeous[.] I shoud have receivd greater relief been more refreshed from the fatiegues of my journey, and my time woud have been spent much more agreeably had I halted below rather than in this vile hole instead of being delay’d in this place;7 but I little imagin’d I shoud have had occasion to wait for a Guard who ought to have waited for me; if either must have waited at all.

I have given Colo. Fairfax an Order upon you for £8.17.5 which please to pay, as it is on acct of a horse wch I bought of Neale some time ago.8 You will receive Inclosd, Bowee’s receipt for Harry, and I shoud be glad, if you have any oppertunity, that you woud demand My the Bond which I had have given, and coud not receive at payment of the time I paid the money; this receipt you may put into my rece[i]pt dra⟨w.⟩9 My Compliments attend my Friends who I wish health and happiness to, very sincerely; I am Dear Jack Your most Affectionate Brother

G. W——n

P.S. As I understand your County the County of Fairfax is to be divided,10 and that Mr Alexander intends to decline serving it, I shoud be glad if you coud fish out come at Colo. Fairfax’s Intention’s, and let me know whether he purposes to offer himself as a Candadite; If he does not, I shoud be glad to stand take a pole, if I thought my chance tolerably good.11 Majr Carlyle mention’d it to me in Williamsburg in a bantering way and askd how I shoud like to go it, saying at the same time, he did not know but they might send me when I might kneow nothing of the matter, for one or ’tother of the Counties. I must own confess I shoud like to go for either, in that manner, but more particularly for Fairfax, as I am a resident there. I shoud be glad if you coud discover Major Carlyles real Sentimts on this head also those of Mr Dalton, Ramsay, Mason, &ca wch I hope & think you may do witht disclosing much of mine; as I know yr own good sense can furnish you with means enough without letting it proceed immediately from me contrivances. If you do should attempt any thing in this matter pray let me know by the first oppertunity how you have succeeded in it; & how those Gentlemen stand affected; if they seem inclinable to promote my Interest, and things shoud be drawing to a crisis you then may declare my Intentions & beg their assistance—If on the Contrary you find them more inclind to favour some other, I wd have the Affair entirely subside dropped. Parson The Revd Mr Green’s, and Captn McCartys Interests in this matter woud be of Consequence; & I shoud be glad if you coud sound their Pulses upon that occasion; conduct the whole, till you are satisfied of the Sentimts of those I have mention’d, with an air of Indifference & unconcern; after that you may regulate your conduct accordingly to circumstances. Captn West the present Burgess, and our Friend Jack West, coud also be servicable if they had a mind to assist the Interest of Dear Jack Your loving Brother12

G. Washington

LB (original), DLC:GW; LB, DLC:GW.

1GW expected to be escorted from Winchester to Fort Cumberland by a detachment from Capt. Robert Stewart’s troop of Virginia light horse, which was with Braddock’s army at the fort. In the absence of Stewart’s men, GW was faced with the task of persuading a party of Frederick County militia to act as a guard for the £4,000 that he was carrying. See also GW to John Augustine Washington, 7 June 1755.

2For a discussion of the drought, see GW to Robert Orme, 22 May 1755, n.5.

3GW inserted a period after “report” when he made his later changes.

4“The old Gentleman” was William Fairfax of Belvoir.

5Lt. William Spearing, a lieutenant in Capt. Thomas Clarke’s Independent Company of New York during the Fort Necessity campaign, was stationed at Fort Cumberland until the independent companies left with Col. Thomas Dunbar in Aug. 1755. His wife Ann Spearing stayed with the Fairfaxes at Belvoir while her husband was on the frontier. GW recorded on 26 Feb. and 11 Mar. 1755 winning money at cards from Mrs. Spearing, undoubtedly while she was at Belvoir. He also won 8s. 9d. at billiards from Mr. Spearing (General Ledger A description begins General Ledger A, 1750–1772. Library of Congress, George Washington Papers, Series 5, Financial Papers. description ends , folio 19, 20). See the letter written to GW from Belvoir on 26 July by Ann Spearing along with Sarah Cary Fairfax and Elizabeth Dent.

6GW inserted a period after “Horses” when he made his later changes.

7GW used his time in Winchester, however, to make several purchases, including four pairs of stockings, some ribbon, two pencils, a quire of paper, and a horse, a large bay for which he today paid Samuel McRoberts £10 6d. (General Ledger A description begins General Ledger A, 1750–1772. Library of Congress, George Washington Papers, Series 5, Financial Papers. description ends , folio 21–22, DLC:GW).

8The order has not been found. GW apparently gave this order to George William Fairfax when he was in Williamsburg. “Neale” may be Christopher Neale (died c.1757) of Fairfax County, who lived on Difficult Run.

9The receipt and bond have not been found. On 25 May 1755 GW paid £45 to “Mr Bowee for a Negro boy named Harry” (General Ledger A description begins General Ledger A, 1750–1772. Library of Congress, George Washington Papers, Series 5, Financial Papers. description ends , folio 21, DLC:GW). “Mr Bowee” was probably James Bowie, a Port Royal merchant, or his brother John Bowie, a planter who lived near Port Royal.

10When GW went down to Williamsburg on 22 or 23 May to get money for General Braddock, the House of Burgesses had before it a bill to divide Fairfax County. Although the bill passed the House on 26 May, it did not get through the council before the assembly adjourned for a recess on 2 June. Loudoun County was not carved from Fairfax until 1757. See JHB, 1752–1755, 1756–1758 description begins H. R. McIlwaine and John Pendleton Kennedy, eds. Journals of the House of Burgesses of Virginia. 13 vols. Richmond, 1905–15. description ends , 243, 265, 269, 272, and 7 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 148–49.

11Dinwiddie dissolved the assembly in November, and the elections of the members of a new House of Burgesses were held in Dec. 1755. GW was present at the poll in Fairfax County on 11 Dec., but he was not a candidate. Young Col. George William Fairfax decided to stand for a seat from Fairfax rather than from Frederick County which he had represented since 1752. Fairfax and the incumbent John West (d. 1777) were elected. See Fairfax County Poll, 11 Dec. 1755. Gerard Alexander (d. 1761), the retiring member from Fairfax, was one of the original trustees of Alexandria from whose family the town took its name.

12The men that GW wished his brother John to sound out about the possibility of his being a candidate for a seat in the House of Burgesses were among the most influential figures in Fairfax County. All of them lived in and around Alexandria, and all remained friends and associates of the master of Mount Vernon for the remainder of their lives. John Carlyle, son-in-law of William Fairfax of Belvoir, was a leading merchant of Alexandria. He and John Dalton were business partners from 1744 until Dalton’s death in 1777. Dalton was one of the founders of Alexandria, as was William Ramsay, another Scottish merchant in the town. The Rev. Charles Green (c.1710–1765), a medical doctor, was a longtime rector of Truro Parish. George Mason of Gunston Hall and Daniel McCarty (d. 1792) of Mount Air were great planters whose places lay not far from Mount Vernon. “Our Friend” Jack West, a nephew of the sitting member, was John West, Jr. (d. 1777). He had served in 1754 as a lieutenant in the Virginia Regiment under GW and became a justice in Fairfax County in 1757 and its sheriff in 1759.

13The dateline is written entirely in GW’s later hand.

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