George Washington Papers

From George Washington to George William Fairfax, 25 July 1763

To George William Fairfax

Monday Evening [25 July 1763]

Dear Sir,

I will take the best care I can of your Letters, that for Mr Waite shall be sent to him, and an answer got, if he works for Mr Page near Fredericksburg1—Anthony and I have examined your Wheels, and find one of them so decayed in the knave that it woud sink under the first load; I have therefore forbid his wasting time in making an Axle, but to get a pair of Wheels from one of my Plantn Carts, and fix to the Tumbrel he is making for you ’till a new pair can be provided; I have also directed Miles to call for my Waggon Harness2 (Cart Harness I have none, but what are at my Plantns used with the Plows) which will answer your purpose very well, as it is for a single Team.

I directed a Man to you on Saturday last with Shells, they were not very good, but I did not know how far they might be necessary; my Boat will be at your Service whenever you choose to call for her, and I shall enquire as you desire where Paint & Oil may be had, for I believe I shall want of them myself, especially of the latter.

I shall beg leave to say a little now in regard to Jno. Askew—That he went to work at your House, was not only with my knowledge but by my express desire, and had he stayd there ’till this time it woud have been perfectly agreable to me; but as you know when he left your Work, so I can assure you that he never came to mine untill Wednesday or Thursday last, I then asked him if he did not think himself one of the most worthless and ungrateful fellows that lived for his treatment of me—for you must know Sir that so small a job as making the Front Gate in my Yard was left him to do when I went to Williamsburg abt the 10th of May last and was found undone at my return, altho. I urged him in the strongest manner I coud to get it finished for this very prevalent Reason namely, that I might Inclose my Chariot Horses in a Pasture round the House secured by a Post & Rail Fence and by that means prevent them from breaking into a field where I had about 10 Acres of Pea’s, that is now by (his Idleness and) there letting in my sheep entirely rooted out—This as I before said he neglected, and I was from that time untill a day or two before Mr Carlyle asked for him to go to Belvoir, e’er I coud get him to work again; so that you may partly judge from this of the provocation he has given me, but you will be more convinced of it when I tell you, that the Balle he owes me is for tools Imported for him, and money actually lent to keep him from starving and from a Goal, from whence (at least the Sheriffs Custody) I have once or twice redeemed him—and lent him money to Cloath & by necessaries for his Family. This is the real truth of the case, and it is so far from my wanting to keep him (longer than he will finish the Gate, & repays 7 days work due to my Carpenters, and now about) that I never desire to see his Face again, if he can fall upon any method of paying what he owes me in money.3

I have made an exchange of Plantation’s with old Saml Johnson, giving the place where Clifton lived for the Lots he held in the Neck, otherwise I shd have been glad to have obliged Doctr Cockburne.4 Mrs Washington will be very glad to see Mrs Fairfax &ca at Mount Vernon, as I shoud have been—to whom please to tender our Complmts & believe me to be Dr Sir Yr Most Obt Hble Servt

Go: Washington

ALS, PHi: Gratz Collection.

The date of this letter has been arrived at in large part by relating its contents to GW’s letters to Fairfax of 17 and 20 July regarding repairs on Belvoir and GW’s upcoming trip to Fredericksburg. For the work being done on Belvoir by GW’s carpenters in the summer of 1763, see the entries in GW’s account with Fairfax for August, September, and November 1763 (Ledger A description begins Manuscript Ledger Book 1, 1750-72, in George Washington Papers, Library of Congress. description ends , 105). GW’s “Monday Evening” dateline indicates the letter was written on 25 July, the day before he left for Fredericksburg. During this decade, only in 1763 did GW go to Fredericksburg in late July after having been in Williamsburg during the first half of May.

1William Waite (died c.1787) was a builder who made repairs on GW’s chimneys in 1760 (Ledger A description begins Manuscript Ledger Book 1, 1750-72, in George Washington Papers, Library of Congress. description ends , 86). Mr. Page is probably Mann Page (b. 1718) of Rosewell in Gloucester County, who at about this time was building his house called Mannsfield, in Spotsylvania County.

2Anthony, a dower slave in his mid-fifties when he was brought to Mount Vernon in 1759, was first made a miller, but by 1762 he was GW’s head slave carpenter. His name does not appear in GW’s list of tithables after 1763. GW charged Fairfax £1. 17.6 in August 1763 for “1 Tumbrel Body Shafts & Axle” (Ledger A description begins Manuscript Ledger Book 1, 1750-72, in George Washington Papers, Library of Congress. description ends , 105). Miles may be Miles Richardson who was GW’s batman during the Forbes Campaign in 1758 and worked for GW for a time after the war.

3See GW’s Indenture with John Askew, 1 Sept. 1759, and his Agreement with John Askew, 22 Oct. 1761. See also Ledger A description begins Manuscript Ledger Book 1, 1750-72, in George Washington Papers, Library of Congress. description ends , 60, 182, and 215. A record of the days Askew worked during most of 1763 and 1764 is in GW’s carpenters’ account book at Mount Vernon. Askew remained at Mount Vernon until 1767.

4See Lease to Samuel Johnston, 25 Dec. 1761, and notes. Dr. Cockburn was probably Thomas Cockburn, formerly of Jamaica, although his son Dr. James Cockburn was also living in Fairfax County at about this time.

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