From James Hill
King Wm County Decr 9th 1771.
Colo. Carter Braxton & Mr Phil. Claiborne inform’d me some time ago that you Immagined you should be in want of a Man to overlook your Buisness, & as Mr Valentine is now Dead I shall be glad to serve you, & will wait on you immediately well recommened, provi[d]ed you will let me know by the Bearers leaving a letter at King Wm Court House from you to inform me if you should be in want or not.1 I am Sir Yr mo: obt Servt
James Hill (1736–1802), originally from New Kent County, was a planter in King William County. On 17 Mar. 1772 he signed an agreement with GW to act as steward, or manager, of the Custis estates in the place of Joseph Valentine, deceased (MH).
1. William Dandridge, Carter Braxton, and Bernard Moore all wrote GW recommending Hill as Valentine’s replacement. William Dandridge of Huntington in King William County was the son of Martha Washington’s uncle William Dandridge of Elsing Green. He wrote on 21 Dec.: “Mr James Hill has Liv’d within a few Miles of me for some Years, He bears a General good Caracter, and is much esteemd by his Neighbours; From the Dealings we have had, believe him Strictly Honest. I have heard Colo. Braxton and others mention him as a good Manager of Plantation Business, but am unacquainted with that part of his Conduct, as I never was on his Land. have understood he is possessd of a pritty Estate and improves it fast which is a Surcumstance much in his favour” (DLC:GW).
Two days later Carter Braxton wrote from “Cherry Cook” (Chericoke plantation) in King William County: “Mr Claiborne and myself once recommended Mr James Hill to you to supply the Place of Mr Valentine as a Manager of your Estate about Wmsburg & in the low parts of the Country.
“You then said you approved the Character of Mr Hill & should be glad to employ him but was unwilling to dismiss so old a Servant as Valentine was. As he is now taken from you and Mr Hill is desirous of taking his Post he has desired me to give you his Character as an Overseer & Conductor of Business. He was employed by me first as an Overseer over the Plantation where i now live and from two or three Years Service gave me such ample and satisfactory Proofs of his Abilities in every Respect to conduct a much larger Concern, that I made him Stewart over my other Plantations in this County. In which Capacity he conducted himself with Propriety & Judgment. His Knowledge in plowing and making Corn is not to be equalled by any One I ever saw.
“He is sober, honest, diligent and understands keeping accts as well as any Man to be met with in his sphere of Life. I do not know any Person I could better recommend nor do I think you will get one so well to answer your Purpose as far as my Judgmt extends. What I have said of him you may rely on to be true & that no other Motive prompts me to say what I have than to do Justice to the Man; at the same time knowing it may in the End oblige you” (NN: Washington Collection).
Bernard Moore of King William County wrote on 24 Dec.: “I find Mr James Hill has applyed to you for your business below, and that you are desirous of having my opinion of him; I know him to be a very Sober, Honest, industrious Man, and a very good Planter, & I make no doubt but he will answer your desires” (DLC:GW).