George Washington Papers

From George Washington to George William Fairfax, 30 October 1762

To George William Fairfax

Mount Vernon 30th Octr 1762.

Dear Sir,

I am sorry to be the Messenger of ill news, but it is incumbent upon me to inform you of the Death of the Mare you committed to my care. how she died, I am able to give you but a very unsatisfactory acct, for on the 3d Instt I set out for Frederick and left her to all appearance as well as a Creature coud be—(Mr Green and I observing a day or two before, how fat and frolicksome She seemed) and on my return in 8 days time, I got the News of her death. She discovered no visible Signs of ailment as I am told in the morning of the 7th, when let out of the Stable, but before Night was swelled to a monstrous size and died in a few hours—Bishop (my old Servant) opened her but coud perceive no hurt, bruise, or other apparant cause of so sudden a death; which Inclines me to think it was occasioned by eating blasted Corn, a peice of which I had in ground I wanted to clean, and never coud fence my Chariot Horses of it; the rest consequently followed, and this I am perswaded puffed her up in the manner related. She had no Foal in her, which assures me that she never woud Breed, as I am convinced she had a competent share of Ariel’s performances; not content with which, She was often catched in amorous moods with a young horse of mine not withstanding my utmost endeavours to keep them asunder. you will feel the loss of this accident more sensibly, but cannot be more concerned at the acct, than I was, for I had pleased myself with the thoughts of delivering her to you in fine order, when you returnd to Belvoir.1

We receive the News of your return with a great deal of pleasure2—& if there is any thing previous to it in which I can be serviceable I hope you will command me—you did me singular Services in a like case, and why wont you give me an oppertunity of making a grateful return.3 Mrs Washington writes to Mrs Fairfax under this cover, to whom, & Miss Fairfax4 please to offer my best wishes. I am Dr Sr Yr Mo. Obedt Hble Servt

Go: Washington

ALS, PHi: Dreer Collection.

1The mare that died was the “Moggy” that Fairfax referred to in his letter of 30 Oct. 1761. Thomas Bishop, GW’s white servant, had been with him since the defeat of Braddock in 1755. Ariel, or Aeriel, was a thoroughbred black stallion from the famous Belair stables in Prince George’s County, Maryland. In 1762 he was bought by William Brent of Richland, Stafford County, Va., and at this time was standing at Warburton, the plantation of William Digges across the Potomac from Mount Vernon, in Maryland.

2The Fairfaxes arrived back in Virginia in July 1763.

3Fairfax supervised the extensive work done on the house at Mount Vernon during the summer and early fall of 1758 while GW was at Fort Cumberland with the Virginia Regiment. See particularly Fairfax to GW, 25 July, 5 Aug., 1 Sept. (two letters) [1] [2], 15 Sept. 1758, and John Patterson to GW, 13 Aug. and 2 Sept. 1758.

4Martha Washington’s letter has not been found. Hannah Fairfax (1742–1802) was in England with her half brother and his wife Sarah Cary Fairfax.

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