George Washington Papers

To George Washington from George Mason, 14 October 1769

From George Mason

Gunston-Hall 14th Octor 1769

Dear Sir

As it is too common to put off what it’s supposed may be done at any Time, I delayed drawing the Deed of Release to You ’till this Week, & was unluckily on Monday Night last seized so violently with the Gout in one of my Feet that I was unable to stir for two or three Days, & cou’d never Sit up to write ’till Yesterday Afternoon; which has prevented my getting the Deed finished before this Morning; & tho’ I am now entirely free from Pain, my Foot is so tender & weak, that I don’t expect to be able to walk for some Days: I have therefore sent up the Deed by the Bearer1 for Yr perusal, & hope You will find it right; it is drawn in the proper Form of a Release & Confirmation: the Deed itself might have been short, had it not been for the long recital, which I thought necessary to explain Matters: I found the Course of Spencer’s Line by Yr Compass differs two Degrees from Jennings’s Survey in 1748, & as George West’s Survey of Thompson’s lower Line in 1757. agrees with Jennings to half a Degree, I have therefore made a Difference of two Degrees in the Course of Hooper’s Line from what You made it by Yr Compass, which I imagine will reduce it to the true Course; but if it shou’d prove not to be quite exact, the old mark’d Line, wth which it binds, will speak for itself: I have inserted the Meanders of little Hunting Creek from Yr Survey from the upper Corner to the Beginning; be pleased to examine them with Yr Notes; & if any Mistake, it shall be rectified2—I shou’d not have troubled You with this Deed so late in the Week, but for the reason already given, & that I knew You was anxious to have the Matter finished this Court, before You set off for Wmsburg, & how that will be done now I know not; unless You will be kind enough, to take a ride hither this Afternoon, to receive the Execution & Acknowledgement before three Witnesses, who can prove it at Court; if You cou’d bring Mr Lun: Washington, & any other Person with You, who can be at Court, We will contrive to get a Witness or two here: if you have not the Cash by You for the Consideration Money, You may give Me yr Note, & pay it when you return from the Assembly, or at any other Time that is convenient; & upon the Execution of the Deed, We may return each other our first Articles of Agreement.3 I am, with Mrs Mason’s Comps. & my own to Yr Lady & Miss Custis, Dr Sir Yr most Hble Sert

G. Mason

P.S. If it’s certain that court will sit on Tuesday, the Deed might be executed here on Monday.

N.B. The Course & Distance of Thompson’s lower Line is taken from G. Mason’s renewed patent in 1757.4

ALS, NN: Washington Collection.

1The letter was sent “⅌ James.”

2In April 1769 GW entered in his account with Mason that £100 was due to Mason for “One hundd Acres of Land purchasd of you out of [Matthew] Thompson’s Patent adjoing the Land I bought of Mr Sampn Darrell” (General Ledger A description begins General Ledger A, 1750–1772. Library of Congress, George Washington Papers, Series 5, Financial Papers. description ends , folio 61) and indicates that he paid the £100 on 24 Oct. 1769. GW sent back to Mason the deed that Mason sent him this day protesting the absence of any warranty to the land’s title (GW’s letter is missing, but see Mason to GW, 17 Oct.). The deed from Mason is dated 24 Oct., which indicates that Mason gave the deed to GW at the time of John Posey’s sale as he had said he would do in his letter of 17 October. Mason, in fact, accompanied GW home from the sale on 23 Oct. and spent that night at Mount Vernon (see Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 2:189). The Fairfax County Deed Book for 1769 has been lost, but GW’s copy of the deed, conveying 300 acres of land, was listed in the Birch sale in 1891 (catalog no. 667, item 33). The deed was proved in the Fairfax County court on 22 Nov. 1769 (see Fairfax County Order Book for 1768–70, 256, ViFfCh). This tract on Little Hunting Creek had been a part of the royal grant to Matthew Thompson in the seventeenth century (see Sampson Darrell to GW, 28 Dec. 1757, nn.1 and 2, Darrell to GW, 9 Oct. 1759 and notes). The deed for the 300 acres appears to be not only a reassertion of GW’s rights to the land originally deeded to him by Darrell in 1757 but also a confirmation of the disputed boundary between the Thompson patent owned by Mason and the small part of it which had been sold many years before to Darrell’s grandfather and was at this time a part of Mount Vernon. According to the new survey the land evidently contained 100 acres more than the 300 acres stated by the original survey and GW was paying Mason for the difference. For the agreement of the boundary dispute see note in Mason to GW, 9 April 1768. When Mason speaks of the “Course of Spencer’s Line by Yr [GW’s] Compass,” he may have been referring to the survey GW made on 4 and 5 Nov. 1762, when he “Endeavoured to find out the Courses and contents of the Land I bought of Capt. Darrell” and first “went to hunt for the Maple said to be Spencers Corner on the South Fork of little hunting Creek.” In this survey GW noted that “it appears also that all the long lines measured by my new chain hold out more than by Brookes and Jennings’s measurements (perhaps my Chain is too short and if so I shall loose by such an Error—Note the Chain to be tryed[)]” (Mitchell, Beginning at a White Oak description begins Beth Mitchell. Beginning at a White Oak . . . Patents and Northern Neck Grants of Fairfax County Virginia. Fairfax, Va., 1977. description ends , 80–82). GW also made both an earlier and later survey of the Darrell boundary line: on 1–2 Oct. 1759 (see Darrell to GW, 9 Oct. 1759, n.2) and, in company with Mason, on 19–20 April 1769, just prior to the signing of the agreement on 21 April. See note in Mason to GW, 9 April 1768. For the location of the Darrell and Mason tracts in relation to the original Mount Vernon tract, see the chart in Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 1:240. Daniel Jenings was county surveyor of Fairfax from 1742 to 1753. Thomas Hooper was a deputy surveyor, 1716–21.

3The first articles of agreement may be the agreement of 21 April 1769 quoted in the note in Mason to GW, 9 April 1768.

4Mason himself received a regrant from Lord Fairfax of the 1,646 acres of the Thompson patent which he had inherited from his father (Northern Neck Grants, Book I, 43–44, Vi).

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