From Francis Willis, Jr.
Belvoir June 2d 1774
Since I wrote to you by the Colchester post, I receivd yours wherein you observe that Colonel Fairfax thinks that the raccoon branch might be rented at the highest bidder for fifty pounds a year.1 I am doubtful that he is not farther wrong than myself I do think that by seting it up the highest bidder it would over go thirty pounds but not withstanding that, I do not approve the plan. I want the fisherys to enable us to rent the House and plantation and while I am obligd to keep the House and Land, would chuse to keep the Fisheries as I think they may encourage some person to take the whole together hopeing to clear by the fisheries the rent of the House &ca.2 Their has been a Tenant with me of Colonel Fairfax one parker whom pays £3.10 a year for the place he lives on he never obtaind a Lease from the Colo. but says that the last time he spoke to Colo. Fairfax on that subject which was a few Days before he left this place that he told him he would leave it in his Will that he should not be turnd off with respect to the truth of what the Tenant says I can not under take to judge. he is contented to have one hundred Acres laid off to him the first year rent free or have a House Built, agreable to a promis he says he obtaind from Colonel Fairfax as he has paid a rent from the first entering ⟨into⟩ to an old house on the land that will not serve him, Their is another Tenant the widdow petet whom pais 750 lb. Tobo. I suppose her in the same ⟨Bog⟩ altho. I have not seen Her, Daniel Stone desires to have the refuseal of west point fishery & 200 acres Land at £20. I have mentioned those Tenants & Daniel Stone as I am willing to oblige them if you approve of it, I could wish if convenient to you to have the sale before Harvest as I am doubtful it may be very inconveniant for me to leave home in August on acct of Mrs Willis.3 I mention this circumstance of the time of sale, mearly because it may be quite indeferant to you (but if it is not) I would not chuse to be considered, or interfear with Your Conveniance.4 I am Sir your Mt Obt Sert
Frans Willis Junr
1. Willis’s letter, which has not been found, was probably his missing letter dated 29 May. GW received George William Fairfax’s letter of 10 Jan. at Dumfries where he “Dined” on 12 May en route to Williamsburg (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 3:249). He “immediately” wrote to Willis about its contents, to which Willis refers in this letter of 2 June (see GW to Athawes, 1 June).
2. On this day Willis’s advertisement offering Belvoir for rent appeared both in Purdie and Dixon’s and Rind’s Virginia Gazette (Williamsburg): “To be RENTED, from Year to Year, or for a Term of Years, BELVOIR, the beautiful Seat of the Honourable George William Fairfax, Esq; lying upon Potowmack River in Fairfax County, about fourteen Miles below Alexandria. The Mansion House is of Brick, two Stories high, with four convenient Rooms and a large Passage on the lower Floor, five Rooms and a Passage on the second, and a Servants Hall and Cellars below, convenient Offices, Stables, and Coach House adjoining, as also a large and well furnished Garden, stored with a great Variety of valuable Fruits, in good Order. Appertaining to the Tract on which these Houses stand, and which contains near 2000 Acres (surrounded in a Manner by navigable Water) are several valuable Fisheries, and a good Deal of cleared Land in different Parts, which may be let altogether, or separately, as shall be found most convenient. The Terms may be known of Colonel Washington, who lives near the Premises, or of me in Berkeley County. FRANCIS WILLIS, Junior” (Purdie and Dixon, 2 June 1774). The Rev. Andrew Morton rented and moved into the house at Belvoir early in 1775. See Morton to GW, 1 Feb. 1775.
3. Francis Willis, Jr., was married to Elizabeth Edwards of Brunswick County.
4. Willis’s notice of the sale to be held at Belvoir appeared in the same issues of the Virginia Gazette as his advertisement of Belvoir for rent (see note 2). It reads: “To be SOLD at Belvoir, the Seat of the Honourable George William Fairfax, Esq; in Fairfax County, on Monday the 15th of August next (pursuant to his Direction) ALL his HOUSEHOLD and KITCHEN FURNITURE of every Kind, consisting of Beds and their Furniture, Tables, Chairs, and every other necessary Article, mostly new, and very elegant.—Ready Money will be expected from every Purchaser under 5 l. and twelve Months Credit allowed those who exceed that Sum, upon their giving Bond and approved Security, to carry Interest from the Date, if the Money is not paid within forty Days after it becomes due. FRANCIS WILLIS, Junior.” For GW’s purchases at the Belvoir sale, see GW to George William Fairfax, 10–15 June, n.25.