George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Mercer, 16 June 1760

From John Mercer

June 16. 1760

Dear Sir

I promised myself the Satisfaction of seeing you this Court but on my return from Williamsburg by one of my Horses falling I was thrown out of the Chair & hurt both my Ancles so much as to prevent my Journey.1 I have therefore got my Son to come up once more for that money of Mr Clifton’s order’d to be paid me by the Decree & hope he will not come without it, not only as my Interest has been stopped, but as I have engaged my word to send it immediately to Mr Hodge, who ⟨besides⟩ charging me the Interest, comp⟨lains⟩ of his not ⟨illegible⟩ as I expected he would.2

My son George ⟨illegible⟩ up with me ⟨illegible⟩ed a day or two longer ⟨illegible⟩ & therefore desired me to inform you that ⟨and every measure in his power⟩ without success to get your man Bishop.3

I finished & carried down to the Speaker Colo. Custis’s Case to be sent to the West Indies, which gave him great Satisfaction. I have spent every ⟨leisure⟩ hour about it These Twenty months past & Rogers has done very little else in the same time. I have an Order on you for £192.7—the Amount at the same rate that Copies out of the Secretaries Office are charged at which was all my demand to prevent any Suspicion of my undertaking it to make a Jobb of it.4 Colo. Burwell & some other Gent. who were present, as well as the Speaker, agreed I might very well have charged double the Sum—As it contains every thing material that I am acquainted with in the whole Course of the Cause whatever happens to me, if any other Lawyer ⟨should be⟩ obliged to finish the Cause, he may if he pleases be as well-acquainted with it as I am. The Speaker said he did not expect to see me in town & therefore left his ⟨papers⟩ as to my Account against the Estate at home but promised to send it to me as soon as he got home. when I receive it I shall wait on you to get a Receipt for the two years Interest I owe on my bond which I should not have failed to have settled before had I not known you would have fallen considerably in my Debt.5 My wife6 tenders her Compliments to your Lady to whom please to present those of Dear Sir Your most obedient Servt

J. Mercer

ALS, ViHi: Custis Papers.

1The “Court” that Mercer is referring to here is clearly the monthly meeting of the Fairfax County court, not the semiannual meeting of the General Court in Williamsburg in April.

2Mercer had prepared and given William Clifton his legal “opinion concerning the validity of a private sale [of his land on Clifton’s Neck] made by himself” (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 1:246); and the final decree of the General Court in Clifton v. Carroll et al., 12 April 1760 (NjWdHi), ordering the sale of the land by public auction, provided for the payment of Clifton’s creditors from the proceeds. See GW to Benjamin Waller, 2 April 1760, n.1. Hodge may be Thomas Hodge, merchant of Leedstown and importer of indentured servants.

3See George Mercer to GW, 17 Feb. 1760, n.5, for references to securing Thomas Bishop’s release from the British army so that he could return to GW’s service. George Mercer settled his account as assistant deputy quartermaster general with Gen. John Stanwix and Col. Henry Bouquet in Philadelphia in May 1760 (Waddell, Bouquet Papers description begins Donald H. Kent et al., eds. The Papers of Henry Bouquet. 6 vols. Harrisburg, Pa., 1951-94. description ends , 4:569, 571, 574, 575).

4Mercer is referring to the Dunbar case in which he had been representing the Custises since the early 1740s and was still acting in the case, for GW, as late as the 1770s. For a brief history of the case, see doc. 1, note 5, in Settlement of the Daniel Parke Custis Estate, 20 April 1759–5 Nov. 1761. After the Privy Council in effect remanded the case to Virginia in 1757, on 11 Oct. 1758 Mercer urged Martha Custis to enter a suit in Antigua against Dunbar, to which this may refer (ViHi: Custis Papers). Richard Rogers was Mercer’s clerk.

5In 1758 Martha Custis drew a bill for £1,000 (or £1,500) on Robert Cary & Co. and for £500 on John Hanbury & Co. in favor of John Mercer (doc. III-B, n.21, in Settlement of the Daniel Parke Custis Estate, 20 April 1759–5 Nov. 1761). For Mercer’s earlier protest when Martha Custis and her brother-in-law Burwell Bassett asked him for a copy of his account with the Custises, see Mercer to Mrs. Custis, 4 Jan. 1758; see also John Mercer’s account with GW, both in ViHi: Custis Papers.

6After the death of his first wife Catherine Mason Mercer in 1750, John Mercer married Ann Roy, daughter of Dr. Mungo Roy of Essex County.

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