George Washington Papers

From George Washington to George William Fairfax, 19 January 1773

To George William Fairfax

Mount Vernon Jany 19th 1773

Dear Sir

If you are done with my Compass & Plotting Instruments, I should be glad to receive them by the bearer, as I measure all my Fields, & am now Inclosing a New one, and do not know where to lay the Rails that are to Fence it, till I find how much of the Field will give me the quantity of Land I want to Inclose.

As I wrote to you in haste the morning of the day Lord Sterlg yourself &ca were to dine here (in answer to your Letter of the 1st Instt)1 I might not perhaps have expressd my meaning so clearly as I wishd to have done, in respect to the several matters therein containd; and therefore cannot help again repeating, that, if you think, engaged as I often am in Company—with my own business—and the business of others, I can be as serviceable to you in your absence, as another who may have more leisure, but not more Inclination, I shall undertake it with chearfulness—My only diffidence arose from an apprehension that, I had it not in my power to give that attention to your business which the nature of the case might require; and that I might in fact, do you a disservice by undertaking more than I could perform, but upon perusing your Letter more attentively I find that, as you only require that I should have an eye to the conduct of your Steward or manager, and to remit his Collections; I can do it with very little difficulty; and will, if you think proper to repose this Trust in me, discharge it to the best of my judgment.2

My Compliments are presented to yourself, & Mrs Fairfax who we hope to hear is better. I am Dr Sir Yr Most Obedt

Go: Washington

P.S. One of the Letters herewith sent was found upon the Road in Stafford & brought from thence a day or two ago by L. Washington.


1Fairfax came to dinner at Mount Vernon on 2 Jan. with Capt. Edward Foy and Lord Stirling. Lord Stirling was William Alexander (1726–1783) of New Jersey. He was in Virginia to promote a lottery by which he hoped to solve his financial difficulties. See Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 3:153–54. See the incomplete version of Fairfax’s letter of 1 Jan.; GW’s letter of 2 Jan. has not been found. For further details of GW’s involvement in Stirling’s Delaware lottery, see Stirling to GW, 31 Oct. 1774, n.1.

2GW did assume general oversight of Fairfax’s affairs under Fairfax’s power of attorney and acted in this capacity until after he took command of the army at Boston, when he wrote Fairfax to “appoint some other Attorney to manage your affairs” (26 July 1775). See George William Fairfax to GW, 5 Aug., 26 Nov. 1773, 10 Jan. 1774, 2 Mar. 1775, and GW to Fairfax, 15 Oct. 1773, 10–15 June 1774, 31 May 1775. For Fairfax’s departure from Virginia, see Fairfax to GW, 5 August.

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