George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Fairfax, 22 January 1757

From William Fairfax

Belvoir. 22d Janry 1757

Dear Sir

This Evening I had the Pleasure to receive your Favor of the 13th inst. I desird only a Sketch and You have kindly sent Me an expressive One of what I desird to know.1 Bryan Fx has partook of several merry Meetings and Dancings in Westmorland and Essex and it’s said addresses Miss T——ville. If He succeeds, his Friends may excuse his quitting the Military.2 A Life that do’s Honour to the Worthy and generally rewarded with one’s Country’s Esteem and Munificence. Those who unjustly and snarlingly Censure whom They can’t imitate or equal are to be overlookt and contemnd.

Our last Advices said Lord Loudoun was gone to N. England. Capt. John Clarke from Salem is now with Us on a Visit,3 and declares if his Lordship appears affable and treats those People in a kind Manner They will assure at least 50,000 wel armd & disciplind and with more Chearfulness if his Lordship would lead Them to Qu——k & Mt—real, rather than cause Them to march the round to Albany as before. This Evg Colo. Carlyle advisd Us, He had an Account of three Regiments being just arrivd at N. York. I suppose a good Squadron of Ships conveyd them that are to assist any Operations agreed on.4 It’s expected the present Parliament will enquire after every Mismanagement in the Ministry; Some say the D. of Newc—— Ld An—&c. will be impeacht, insomuch that the most vigorous Measures will be attempted towards regaining our lost Honor in the Mediterranean and at Oswego.5 I have seen your Regiments Cloathing at Mr Carlyles and think them well chosen and made: hope You will soon have them; also the expected Pay as Mr Kirkpatrick was to meet Mr Treasurer and the Committee on the 17th at Wmsburg.6 G. Fx, Mr Carlyle & I lost our Necessarys sent for, being shipt on board the Friendship Capt. Robt Lee bound for Patuxent & sayld with Channel Convoy but in August was taken by a Privateer and carried into Bayonne.

I am sensible Yr Self, Officers & Men undergo uncommon Difficultys as well in your provisionary Support as in carrying on the additional Works directed. If as I suppose the Workmen were paid some Consideration for what They did and are doing at Fort Loudoun You may expect likewise the same Justice for what You have and are doing at Fort Cumberland, wch the Govr writes Me, Ld Loudoun is desirous by no Means to have dismantled or the Garrison withdrawn. No doubt You cause to be kept regular Accots of the Soldiers extraordinary Labour and other Incidents. The Revenue of 2s. ⅌ Hhd &c. under the Disposal of the Govr & Council is I believe mostly exhausted, therefore it may be expected the Assembly will pay the Expences on the Governor & Council setting forth the Reasons and Necessity of their Orders to You. As the Matter appears in this Light, You may think proper perhaps to correspond some Times with Mr Treasurer letting Him know the Occurrences, what Obstructions and Discouragements when You meet any, As He & most of the Committee if not All, are your Friends and undoubtedly will advise and assist your Endeavors especially whilst acting in the lawful Defence of your Country.7 As to Mr Commissary Walker I don’t yet know whether He is to continue or who are to succeed. Messrs Carlyle & Ramsay are in Suspence.

Denis McCarty Supported by Mr Thos Campbell an Officer sent from the Noward to recruit among Us, committed several illegal Acts lately at Alexandria, forcing open Doors in the Night time, taking Men out of their Beds and carrying them to their Guardho. wch Mr Kirkpatrick then in Town can pticularly acquaint You with. I sent by Him Depositions relating the Facts to the Governor. Mr Campbell &c. went afterwards to Westmorland where They acted other gross Enormities countenancd by Colo. Pp Lee.8 Such Irregularities must obstruct the recruiting Service and cause a Freemen to disesteem the licentious Officers—The Genl Assembly is prorogu’d to Febry—When Mr Kirkpatrick returns He will inform whether It may then meet or No.

As perhaps You mayn’t have Seen the enclosed relating to the British Ministry I send it for your Perusal. Please to favor Me with an Accot of Occurrences as may further happen. G: Fx, his Dame, & Miss Hannah (Bryan in Westmorland) heartily joyn in wishing You every Felicity, your Station can admit.9 You’l also do me the Justice to believe that I am as much as any Person can be Dear Sir Your affecte Friend &c.

W. Fairfax


1GW’s letter has not been found. The most recent letter that we have from William Fairfax (1691–1757) to GW was written in September, but Fairfax may have asked for the “Sketch” during GW’s visit to Alexandria in late November when the two men were undoubtedly together. William Fairfax, of Belvoir near Mount Vernon, was senior member of the colonial council and GW’s friend and patron.

2“Miss T—ville” was almost certainly one of the Tubervilles of Westmoreland County. Bryan Fairfax (1736–1802), who became a lieutenant in George Mercer’s company of the Virginia Regiment in August 1756, had resigned his commission in December. He disappeared in the spring of 1757, and when he was discovered in Annapolis his father wrote GW on 6 May that he supposed that his son, who had been “twice refusd in his Love Addresses,” had run away to join one of Loudoun’s regiments in New York. In 1759 Bryan Fairfax married Elizabeth Cary, the younger sister of Sarah Cary Fairfax, the wife of Bryan Fairfax’s half brother George William Fairfax (1724–1787).

3John Clarke was the brother of Deborah Clarke Fairfax (d. 1747), Bryan Fairfax’s mother and the second wife of William Fairfax. She was from Salem, Massachusetts.

4Loudoun arrived in Boston on 20 Jan. 1757 to meet with officials of the New England colonies in preparation for his planned expedition to Quebec. It was not until 1 May that Loudoun received specific orders from William Pitt to attack the French fortress at Louisburg instead of Quebec. In order to launch the attack on Louisburg, Loudoun in late May sailed from New York to Halifax, Nova Scotia. He was joined there on 10 July by more than 5,000 regular soldiers from Britain and a fleet of British warships, but in August Loudoun decided to abandon the campaign and return to New York. In December 1757 Pitt recalled Loudoun to England.

5Premature reports that the ministry of the duke of Newcastle and Henry Fox had been replaced by that of Pitt and the duke of Devonshire appeared in the colonial press in the late fall of 1756. Pitt did not take office as secretary of state for the Southern Department until early December 1756, and the Pitt-Devonshire ministry did not meet Parliament until it convened on 17 Feb. 1757. The king dismissed Pitt in April, and when Pitt returned to office at the end of June it was to form the famous coalition ministry with the duke of Newcastle that managed the war to its successful conclusion. George, Lord Anson, was the first lord of the admiralty in the Pitt-Newcastle ministry.

For a discussion of Adm. John Byng’s defeat in the Mediterranean in May 1756, see William Fairfax to GW, 10 July 1756, n.7. The marquis de Montcalm captured the forts and garrison at Oswego, N.Y., in August 1756.

6For the details of John Carlyle’s purchase of uniforms for the officers of the Virginia Regiment, see Carlyle to GW, this date. GW’s secretary John Kirkpatrick left Winchester for Williamsburg in late December when GW departed for Fort Cumberland, and he arrived at Fort Cumberland from Williamsburg and Alexandria in late January 1757. GW recorded in his military accounts that he received on 27 Jan. £2,000 from Kirkpatrick (Va. Regimental Accounts, 1755–58, DLC:GW), which Kirkpatrick had secured from Treasurer John Robinson.

7A duty of 2s. on every hogshead of tobacco exported from Virginia had been collected for the use of the royal government of the colony ever since the colonial assembly first imposed the tax in 1658. GW notes in his Regimental Accounts that Alexander Boyd, paymaster for the Virginia Regiment, paid out £61 7s. “for the Workmen at Fort Cumbd to” 1 Jan. 1757. The decision reached at Philadelphia in March by Loudoun and the southern governors to have Maryland troops stationed at Fort Cumberland finally solved for GW the problem of maintaining the fort.

8This was Philip Ludwell Lee (1727–1775), who in 1750 had inherited Stratford Hall in Westmoreland County from his father Thomas Lee. Philip Lee served in the House as a burgess from Westmoreland until elevated to the council in March 1757. In a petition to the House of Burgesses received on 18 April 1757, a number of men from Richmond County complained that John Bayne, acting for Colonel Lee, had taken off a number of their servants to serve as soldiers in the Royal American Regiment and had refused to pay them for the servants. A committee of the House found on 4 June that Lee, Bayne, and Denis McCarty had collected for the regiment “a large Number of People” who were sent in Campbell’s charge to Williamsburg (JHB, 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 1752–1755, 1756–1758, 485–86); at that time five of the Richmond petitioners still had not been reimbursed for the loss of their servants. The Thomas Campbell named here may have, in fact, been Lt. James Campbell of the Royal American Regiment. For references to Denis McCarty’s earlier recruiting activities, see GW to Dinwiddie, 4 Dec. 1756, n.2.

9George William Fairfax and his wife Sarah Cary Fairfax (d. 1811) and William Fairfax’s two unmarried offsprings, Hannah (1742–1808) and Bryan Fairfax, were all living at Belvoir.

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