George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Prentis and William Withers, 14 October 1755

From William Prentis and William Withers

Wmsburgh [14] Octor 1755


Inclosed is an Invoice of Sundrys shipped on board the Nancy consigned Mr Chas Dick of Fredericksburgh; which were purchased by us by Order of the Governor for the Use of the Virginia Regiment.1 We are Sir Your most Hble Servts

Prentis & Withers


William Prentis (d. 1765) was an important storekeeper in Williamsburg, and William Withers (1731–1802) was Dinwiddie’s secretary. They appear to have been acting as partners in a business venture at this time. Withers served as Dinwiddie’s secretary from about June 1752 until Jan. 1758, when Dinwiddie’s tenure as lieutenant governor ended. As early as 1751 Dinwiddie wrote with a very unsteady hand, and in 1756 he was “seiz’d with a Paraletic Disorder” (Dinwiddie to the Earl of Halifax, 24 Sept. 1756, P.R.O., C.O. 5/1329, f. 16). Because of his maladies, Dinwiddie depended heavily on Withers’s secretarial skills. Most of the surviving letters from Dinwiddie to GW are in Withers’s hand. On his secretary’s behalf, the lieutenant governor used his influence to expedite confirmation of a private act settling a lawsuit between Withers and Samuel Washington (Dinwiddie to James Abercromby, 6 Sept. 1755, in Brock, Dinwiddie Papers description begins R. Alonzo Brock, ed. The Official Records of Robert Dinwiddie, Lieutenant-Governor of the Colony of Virginia, 1751–1758. 2 vols. Richmond, 1883–84. description ends , 2:197). After his patron returned to England, Withers carried on as a merchant in Virginia and eventually settled in Dinwiddie County.

1The invoice identifies the master of the Nancy as Richard Squire. The “Sundrys” include blanketing, 449 white shirts, 20 tin kettles, and several reams of cartridge paper. The cover of the invoice is dated 14 Oct. 1755 (DLC:GW).

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