George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Bernard Moore, 29 December 1766

From Bernard Moore

29th Decr 1766

Dear Sir

My inclination to do the Strictest Justice to the Several Gentlemen to whom I am indebted & the distrest state of the Country making it impossible for some of them to wait untill the produce of my Estate can raise sufficient to satisfy the demands upon it, has induced me to make Sale of all my Lands in King William to clear my incumbrances.1 I am willing to flatter my self from our long acquaintance that you have some regard for me and my large family, and that if its in your power to serve me that I may hope for your kind assistance to promote the Sale, Should it suit yourself to lay out monys in the purchase of Lands perhaps those I intend to sell may answer your purpose. The Lands I propose to sell is where I live, the Tract contains about 3500 Acres, its of a long Square from River to River about 3 Miles long & about 2 miles in width,2 the quallity you partly know, and if you will be kind enough to come and see the whole your good Judgment will govorn you in what manner to Act. there is 500 fine bearing apple trees, about 2,000 fine young Peach trees that will begin to bear next Summer. The plantations for 40 or 50 hands in as good order for Croping as any in the Country. Buildings on the plantations of all sorts are in good order, many of them New. The house I live in as good as New, compleatly finished 5 rooms on a floor, garden, out Houses &c., all new, and in good order. If this tract should suit you, or you should think proper to purchase it for Master Custis I shall be glad to see you down here. I am most sure when you come to see the conveniences and the Situation of the Land that we shant disagree. My best complements attends on you & my old friend Mrs Washington and am Dear Sir Your Most Aff. Servt

Berd Moore


1After John Robinson’s death on 11 May 1766, the lawyer Edmund Pendleton who undertook the administration of Robinson’s estate calculated that nearly £140,000 was due the estate, about £100,000 of which Robinson had taken from the public treasury for loans to fellow planters. On 13 June 1766 Pendleton and the other administrators of the estate issued their first demand for payments, calling on the debtors to “pay immediately what they owe, without further trouble or application; and even cheerfully sell their own estates to discharge it” (Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon; Williamsburg], 13 June 1766). Bernard Moore’s debt of £8,500 to Robinson’s estate was second only to that of William Byrd’s, and Moore was otherwise greatly overextended, without either ready money or credit (Appendix 2, in Mays, Pendleton description begins David John Mays. Edmund Pendleton, 1721–1803: A Biography. 2 vols. Cambridge, Mass., 1952. description ends , 1:358–69). On 10 Aug. 1767 Pendleton took over all of Bernard Moore’s property for sale, including 1,683 acres in King William County, 6,039 in Caroline, 1,800 acres in King and Queen with the forge and gristmill, slaves and equipment on the tract. Of the proceeds from the sale, the first £300 sterling and £1,500 current money was to be at Moore’s own disposal, and the residue was to go toward paying his debt to Robinson’s estate (ibid., 205). When no buyers for his property appeared, a lottery for disposing of it was advertised in the Virginia Gazette (Purdie and Dixon; Williamsburg), 1 Dec. 1768, with George Washington as one of the managers. For Bernard Moore’s debt to Martha Parke Custis, see Moore to GW, 21 Oct. 1766, source note and n.3.

2Moore’s home, Chelsea, was in King William County where the Pamunkey and Mattaponi rivers converge to form the York River.

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