George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Humphrey Knight, 16 June 1758

From Humphrey Knight

Mount Vernon ⟨1⟩6 June 1758


I Receivd yours by Mr Posey and Emeadiatley wrote up to you to aquint you of all affairs but fear full the Letter miscarride, I instantly proceeded in Geting Posseys work Vallued and after it was Vallued to Settle with him. he told me, at first he would pay the hole acct, but afterwards would pay but £25:0:0 which you will see in his Credit, I have sent his Acct and Credit in the Letter which I hope will Safeley Get to you1 I Expect to Discharge moxleys acct which is in the hands of Mr Piper at Court,2 I Expect all the rents in next week without fail, I shall act according to your orders in paying piper,3 John Berry Refuses to pay what adams Vallued his work to[.]4 the other people is willing to pay and I beleive ready but not without an Order from you or Mr John Augt. washington5 Sir I hope you will not be Douptfull of my Diligence in your buseness Ill Loose my life before any thing sha⟨mutilated⟩ Go amiss if I can help it, our people has bin very Sickly which has hurt us and a Great Deal of hinderence in building which I hope your Hr will Consider the frames is all Sawd but the Leaths which will soon be dun the house will be raisd next week,6 Mr Grymes has had 6 hhds of Sweet Sented Tobco from muddy hole which is all of that sort and 3 hhd which Come from the mountain Quartrs which was to light & I Carried Tobco from mudy hole and reprizd & maid em heavier In all mr Grymes has had 97 Plese to Excuse our making So little Tobco I hope we Shall make a good Crop this year I have planted Seventy thousand and Shall finish next Season our Corn is very likely and in good Order the water fails at the mill Very mutch I sent in the other letter how mutch Corn She has got Sence Christmas and wheat.8

All our stock is well and a fine parcell of Lambs the roan mairs Colt groes very fast, I Delivd to the Sloop belonging to Norfolk 168–1/2 bushels of wheat which was all we could Get ready and I Delivd the Receipt to Colo. Carlile9 their is few people in our County will plant their Crops Our wheat is midlin⟨g⟩ Likeley our oats is very good we Sewd of oats 90 bushels I have Drawd Poseys acct of the book right and Set Down all his Credit I shall be Diligent in geting your Debts in and all other things I hope, and shall with Safety Keep the money for You or your order and Should be glad to see Your Honr Down at your Estate in fairfax County I am Sir your Most Hble Servant to Comd

Humphrey Knight


Humphrey Knight was GW’s overseer at Mount Vernon in 1757 and 1758 until his death in the fall of 1758. When closing out his account with the deceased Knight, GW wrote: “Note, this Humphrey Knight was an Overseer of mine & died while his Second Crop was growing—his share of which it is supposd coud not amount to so much as the Balle of the Acct for which he is here credited—viz.—for 30.15.9½” against a total indebtedness of £69.13.1½ incurred from 20 June 1757 (General Ledger A description begins General Ledger A, 1750–1772. Library of Congress, George Washington Papers, Series 5, Financial Papers. description ends , folio 73).

1John Posey, at this time captain of the 2d company of artificers in the 2d Virginia Regiment, was GW’s near neighbor living just downriver from Mount Vernon where he operated a ferry across the Potomac. See Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 1:211. In his account with Posey (General Ledger A description begins General Ledger A, 1750–1772. Library of Congress, George Washington Papers, Series 5, Financial Papers. description ends , folio 14), GW entered charges in “1757 & 58” against Posey “To Sundry Work done by my Carpenter valud to” £30, as well as additional charges of £6.18 and £18.15 for wheat. On 13 Sept. 1758 GW entered cash payments by Posey to Knight of £12.10, £5, and £25 (ibid.). GW’s account with Knight indicates that Posey made the payment of £25 on 15 June (ibid., 73). GW’s carpenter built for Posey among other things a kitchen (see John Patterson to GW, 17 June 1758). This is the first letter from Knight to GW that has been found.

2This may have been Samuel Moxley with whom GW did business in the 1760s (see General Ledger A description begins General Ledger A, 1750–1772. Library of Congress, George Washington Papers, Series 5, Financial Papers. description ends , folio 54), but the estates of Richard Moxley (d. 1757) and Thomas Moxley, Jr. (d. 1757), were being settled at this time, and as late as 1759 Harry Piper made a settlement for GW with the estate of William Moxley (d. 1752). The Piper named here was probably the merchant in Alexandria, Harry Piper (d. 1780).

3No instructions from GW to pay Piper have been found, but Knight wrote GW on 13 July that he had “paid Mr Piper.” On 23 Aug. Knight confessed that four tenants had still paid only a part of their rent and that one had paid none.

4According to John Patterson in a letter to GW on 17 June, it was “Mr Adams” who viewed and valued the work done for John Posey by GW’s carpenter. See note 1. Adams was probably Abednego Adams (1721–1809), one of GW’s closest neighbors, who lived near Little Hunting Creek. John Berry may have been John Barry, husband of Eleanor Wade Barry and clerk of the Truro Vestry, 1764 to 1775.

5GW’s young brother Jack (John Augustine Washington) took over the management of GW’s farms when GW joined Braddock’s expedition in the spring of 1755 (see William Fairfax to GW, 14 April 1756, n.6), but he was no longer living at Mount Vernon when Knight became the resident overseer there.

6The joiner John Patterson was in the process of adding another story to the story and one half of the house at Mount Vernon that GW inherited from his half brother Lawrence Washington. See John Patterson to GW, 17 June 1758, and notes to that document.

7This was Benjamin Grymes, owner of the ship Arnold in the tobacco trade. Muddy Hole Farm, a part of the original Mount Vernon tract, was on Little Hunting Creek back from the Potomac. It included nearly five hundred acres, and eventually GW had seven fields on the farm for cultivation. For a description of GW’s Mountain Quarter, his Bullskin plantation in the lower Shenandoah Valley, see Christopher Hardwick to GW, 11 July 1758. GW’s nine hogsheads were shipped to Richard Washington in the Arnold in September 1758. “Reprizd” is used in the sense of started over.

8Knight’s letter has not been found. For the miller’s report on GW’s mill on Dogue Run, see William Poole to GW, 9 July 1758.

9The wheat was shipped in John Carlyle’s sloop to the merchant Charles Steuart in Norfolk. See General Ledger A description begins General Ledger A, 1750–1772. Library of Congress, George Washington Papers, Series 5, Financial Papers. description ends , folio 11, and Knight to GW, 2 Sept. 1758. John Carlyle of Alexandria was GW’s business associate and friend.

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