Petition to Botetourt
[c.15 December] 1769
The Petition of George Washington in behalf of himself and the Officers and Soldiers who first Imbarkd in the Service of this Colony humbly Prays:1
That the 200,000 Acres of Land which was given to them by the Honble Govr Dinwiddies Proclamation bearing date the 19th of Feby 1754; May (in case your Lordship and Council shoud be of opinion, upon considering of the matter, that the reservation in behalf of the Indian Traders in the Deed of Cession to the Crown will be confirmd) be allotted them in one or more Surveys as follow—to wit—On the Monongahela & its Waters from the long Narrows up to, or above a place commonly called & known by the name of Nicholas Knots—On the New River or Great Canhawa from the Great Falls therein to the Mouth thereof—And on Sandy Creek als. great Tatteroy from the Mouth to the Mountains provided the same shall be included within the bounds of this Colony if otherwise then on the lower side of the little Canhawa the upper being part of the Lands reservd for the Traders.2
Your Petitioners further pray, that they may be allowed to hold and enjoy these Lands under the Previledges and immunities with which they were Granted, and moreover that they may be at liberty to proceed to the immediate Survey of them in order to the Settlement thereof, & to prevent Emigrants from unwittingly possessing the same; but this they beg leave to observe they can in no wise do, unless your Lordship and Council will be pleasd to endulge them in the appointment of a particular Surveyor: for if it is to be done by the Surveyor of a County, the Work must, from the extensiveness of his business, be greatly retarded; and the Expence swelld much beyond what a poor Soldier is able to bear; A Circumstance which yr Petitioners humbly conceive coud never be intended.3
Your Petitioners further beg leave humbly to propose, that your Lordship woud be pleasd to Issue your Proclamation, or signify in some other Manner the necessity of ascertaining the Claims by some prefixd time, in order that each Person might be acquainted with the amount of his respective share; & have it allotted to him accordingly. And Yr Petirs as in duty bound will pray—4
Copy, in GW’s hand, DLC:GW. The document is docketed in GW’s hand: “Copy of G. Washington⟨’s⟩ for self &ca Petition considerd 15th Decr 1769–3d.” GW composed the petition at some time after writing his letter of 8 Dec. to Botetourt, in which he may have enclosed this petition.
1. “At a Council held December 15th 1769” at the capitol in Williamsburg, with the governor and nine members of the council present, “A Petition of George Washington Esquire in behalf of himself and the Officers and Soldiers who first imbarked in the service of this Colony, was this day presented, praying that the Two Hundred Thousand Acres of land which was given to them by Governor Dinwiddie’s Proclamation, bearing date the 19th day of February 1754, may be allotted to them, in one or more Surveys, on the Monongahela and its waters from the long narrows to or above a place commonly called and known by the name of Nicholas Knotts on the new River otherwise called the great Canhawa from the great Falls thereof to the mouth—And on Sandy Creek, otherwise great Tattaroy, from the mouth of the same to the mountains; provided the same shall be included within the boundary line of this Government, if otherwise, then on the lower side of the little Canhawa; and that they may be allow’d to hold and enjoy the same under the privileges and immunities granted by the said Proclamation, and that they may be indulged in the appointment of a particular Surveyor.
“The Board having taken under consideration the said Petition; it was the Opinion of the Council that the Petitioners were justly entitled to the said Two Hundred Thousand Acres, and their advice that they have leave to take up the said quantity in one or more Surveys, not exceeding twenty, on the great Canhawa and the other places particularized in their Petition so as not to interfere with prior Settlements or surveys actually and legally made, and that they hold the same under the privileges and immunities specified in the said Proclamation.
“The Council also advised that Col. Washington should apply to the President and Masters of the College requesting them to nominate and appoint a Person properly qualified to survey the said land with all possible expedition, signifying to them that their compliance herein will be agreeable to this Board; and that he give public notice in the Gazette requiring every Officer and Soldier, or their Representatives to exhibit their respective claims properly attested to him before the tenth day of October, that the whole may be laid before the Board for their final determination.
“They further advis’d him to notify that no Person who enter’d into the Service after the battle of the Meadows in 1754, is entitled to any part of the said 200,000 Acres. It was likewise their Advice that the Petitioners be allow’d five years time to survey their Grant” (Exec. Journals of Virginia Council description begins H. R. McIlwaine et al., eds. Executive Journals of the Council of Colonial Virginia. 6 vols. Richmond, 1925–66. description ends , 6:337–38). GW secured a copy of the first two paragraphs of these minutes made by John Blair, Jr., after he became clerk of the council on 15 Oct. 1770. Blair added this notation at the bottom of the page: “In the Patents insert a Clause reserving the Quit rents from and after the Feast of St Michael next after fifteen Years from the Dates of them.” GW docketed Blair’s copy on the cover, and notations on the cover in another hand give the acreages assigned to various officers for which GW secured patents on 6 Nov. 1772 (Vi: Colonial Papers). In November 1772 GW paid Blair £5 “for Copies of several orders of Council—and other Services for obtaining the Grant” (account with the grantees under Dinwiddie’s proclamation in 1754, 15 Dec. 1769–14 June 1774, DLC:GW).
2. For the land reserved for “the Suffering Traders” of Pennsylvania, see the postscript in GW to Botetourt, 8 Dec., and the references in note 6 of that document. The New River flows north and northwest from North Carolina through southwest Virginia into West Virginia where it joins the Gauley River to form the Great Kanawha, or Kanawha, River two miles above its falls. Big Sandy, or Tatteroy, Creek flows northward through West Virginia into the Ohio River about fifty-five miles below where the Great Kanawha joins the Ohio.
3. When the College of William and Mary received its royal charter in 1693, the college was given the power of licensing and appointing county surveyors in Virginia. Thomas Lewis, the brother of Andrew Lewis, was at this time the surveyor of Augusta County which nominally included all the land in the Ohio country where GW was seeking the 200,000 acres for the veterans of the Fort Necessity campaign. GW talked to William Crawford about Crawford’s doing the survey before making this petition to the council (see note 1). After the council meeting, GW promptly applied to the president and masters of the college to approve William Crawford as special surveyor for the grant to the former soldiers under the Proclamation of 1754 (see Josiah Johnson to GW, 20 Dec. 1769, and James Horrocks to GW, 21 Dec. 1769). Andrew Lewis wrote on 1 Mar. 1770 expressing his hearty approval of Crawford’s appointment, and Crawford went with GW down the Ohio and up the Great Kanawha in October and November 1770 searching out the land for the surveys that he made in 1771 (see particularly Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 2:277–324).