From John Aylett
1774 January 1
There is a deed of gift from your Lady, for several Slaves, to her Brother Bartholomew Dandridge, in Trust, for the Joint use of her decd Sister and her Sister Aylett, recorded in new Kent county court. The deed expresses the Slaves were alloted to her, by her Brother W. Dandridge, as, and for a proportionable, or Childs part, of the value of the Slaves, of Colo. Dandridges estate. I shall be very much obliged to you, to inform me, whether the Slaves, said to be alloted, were ever delivered, to Mrs Washington: by whom the allotment was made, and whether, if it was not made by her Bror William, he ever assented to it.1
Betsy Joins me in love to your Lady self & Mr Custis—and am Dr Sir Your most obedt Servt
P.S. direct to me at Colo. Bassetts. J.A.2
ALS, DLC:GW. GW docketed the letter: “Enquirg after a Trust Estate—of—Negro’s.”
1. Martha Washington’s youngest sister, Mary Dandridge, was born in 1756 and died in 1763. Her next youngest sister, Elizabeth, had recently married John Aylett of King William County. Her third sister, Anna Maria, was married to Burwell Bassett of Eltham. For an earlier reference to a slave whom Martha Washington inherited from her father, John Dandridge, see GW’s letter to her brother, William Dandridge, dated 20 May 1762. See also note 2 below.
2. GW drafted his response on the sheet on which Aylett’s letter is written, dating it at “Mount Vernon Jan. 8th”:
“Dr Sir[,] In answer to your enquiries of the 1st Instt I have to profess an entire ignorance of every matter, & thing respecting the Deed of Trust mentioned in your Letter, so far as relates to any personal knowledge; upon discoursing however with Mrs Washington on this subject, I learn, that the Negro’s were never delivered to her, that she desired Mr Barthw or her Mother (she does not recollect which) to have the matter transacted between herself & Sisters; but whether Mr Willm Dandridge was in the Country, consenting thereto, or not, she does not recollect.
“This Sir is all the information I have it in my power to give you—Mrs Washington joins me in love to Mrs Aylett & yourself and I am Dr Sir Yr Most Obedt G. W—n” (DLC:GW).