George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Joseph Chew, 10 March 1774

From Joseph Chew

Johnson Hall [N.Y.] March 10th 1774

Dear sir

though it is a long time since I have had the pleasure of writing to you, it is not so, with Respect of my inquires of your health and Happiness and the accounts my Lord Sterling gave me last summer were very agreable his Lordship informed me he spent Some time with you in Virginia Very Happily.1

I am informed my Lord Dunmore is now Granting lands to the Officers who served in the Virga Regements during last war, my Poor Brother Colbys Services and Misfortune will I should think intitle his heir who I am to a Grant, and as it is Very inconvenient for me to attend Upon his Lordship my Self I have desired my friend and Relation Mr Madison to make the application and for fear of any Objections my Excellent friend and Benefactor Sir William Johnson has wrote a few Lines to my Lord on the subject2 I flater my Self I may Claim your favour and friendship in this matter, and the more so when I inform you that for some years I have met with such Losses and Misfortunes that I have been oblidged to begin the world anew, and have fixed upon this part of the Country for no other Reason than the Countinance and Favour of sir William, I am sure if a Grant is Otained in my favour you will Extend your kindness and give Mr Madison your Advice when to make the survey.3

I should be Very Happy to have the Honnour of a few Lines from you and know your sentiments of the New Government on the Ohio, which I believe gives the Indians much unneasiness as they are more in fear of our Countrymen than all the Rest of the Colonies, and therefore dread their Neighbourhood—I wish the Breach that’s made to the southward may not Extend further to the North.4 I am sure Sr William is much afraid of it and takes Every step he possibily Can to prevent it.

I know your goodness will Excuse this Liberty in an unfortunate old Acquaintance who is with the greatest Esteem Respect and best Wishes for your Happiness Dear sir your most Obedt Hble Servt

Jos. Chew


1When en route to Boston in early spring 1756, GW stopped over in New London at the house of Joseph Chew (b. 1720). Some years before, Chew had emigrated from Virginia to Connecticut and had established himself as a merchant in the town. He began a correspondence with GW on 4 Mar. 1756, but no letter to or from Chew after 11 Oct. 1758 has been found. William Alexander, Lord Stirling, visited Williamsburg in the winter of 1772–73.

2Ens. Colby Chew of GW’s Virginia Regiment was killed in September 1758 in a skirmish near Fort Duquesne. Sir William Johnson’s letter to Dunmore is also dated 10 Mar. (Johnson Papers description begins Milton W. Hamilton et al., eds. The Papers of Sir William Johnson. 14 vols. Albany, 1921–65. description ends , 8:1073–74). Before GW wrote him the bad news on 25 Sept., Edmund Pendleton wrote Chew: “I last month received a letter from our friend Colonel [James] Maddison accompanying letters to the Governor and Colonel Washington to procure a Warrant for the lands you, as heir to your brother Colby, was intitled to under the Royal Proclamation of 1763; I backed them with my best endeavours to procure a Warrant, but to no purpose, the Governor informed me his Instructions were so positive he could not dispence with your Personal Application, and that you must bring with you a Certificate from the Governor in whose Province you live, that you had not obtained your lands there, and then you should have them” (Mays, Pendleton Papers description begins David John Mays, ed. The Letters and Papers of Edmund Pendleton, 1734–1803. 2 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1967. description ends , 1:92–96). No letter from James Madison, Sr., to GW in support of Chew’s claims has been found.

3Edmund Pendleton wrote Chew: “I had heard of your misfortune toward the close of the last War, which had caused you to quit New London and retire somewhere back” (ibid.).

4For news of Indian hostilities in Georgia, see Andrew Lewis to GW, 9 Mar. 1774, and note 8 of that document.

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