To Thomas Everard
Camp at Cambridge Septr 17th 1775.
As I believe it will be three Years next December, since some of my Ohio Lands (under the proclamation of 1754) were patented; and as they are not yet improved agreeable to the express Letter of the Law, it behoves me to have recourse, in time, to the common expedient of saving them by means of a friendly Petition.1 My distance from Williamsburg, and my ignorance of the mode of doing this, lays me under the necessity of calling upon some friend for assistance. Will you then, my good Sir, aid me in this Work? I shall acknowledge it as a singular favour if you will, and unless you discourage me, I shall rely on it.
I have already been at as much expense in attempting to seat and improve these Lands, as would nearly, if not quite, have saved them agreeable to our Act of Assembly, had it been laid out thereon. In March 1774, I sent out twenty odd Servants and hirelings, with a great number of Tools, Nails, and necessaries for this purpose; but Hostilities commencing with the Indians, they got no further than the Redstone settlement, where the people dispersed, my goods got seized, lost; and the whole expedition (which I suppose stood me in at least £300) came to nothing. In March last I again purchased a parcel of Servants, hired Men at considerable Wages, and sent out a second time; but what they have done I neither know nor have heard further than that, after buying Tools and Provisions at most exorbitant prices, and not being able (for Money) to procure a sufficiency of the latter, my Servants, for the most part, had runaway, and the Manager with a few Negroes and hirelings left in an almost starving condition.2 This, Sir, is my situation, and to avoid a total loss of the Land, (as I conceive there are some peculiar circumstances attending the matter, on account of other claims) or to prevent involving myself in any disagreeable controvercy in defence of my property, having already had a great deal of trouble about it, I am desirous of adopting, in time, the method of petitioning.
The Enemy and we are very near Neighbours. Our advanced Works are not more than five or 600 Yards from theirs, and the main body of the two Armies scarce a Mile. We see every thing that passes, and that is all we can do, as they keep close on the two Peninsulas of Boston and Charlestown, both of which are surrounded with Ships of War, Floating Batteries, &c. and the narrow necks of Land leading into them fortified, in such a manner as not to be forced without a very considerable slaughter, if practicable at all. I am, with Esteem, Dear Sir, &c.
Varick transcript, DLC:GW.
Thomas Everard of Williamsburg as clerk to the secretary of the Virginia general court issued the colony’s land patents. Between November 1772 and December 1774 GW paid Everard several fees for patenting lands on the Ohio and Kanawha rivers (Ledger B description begins Manuscript Ledger Book 2, 1772-93, in George Washington Papers, Library of Congress. description ends , 62, 82, 96, 121, and 130).
1. On 15 Dec. 1772 GW received grants of 2,314, 2,448, and 4,395 acres on the Ohio River and one of 10,990 acres on the Kanawha River which by Virginia law he had to improve within three years (3 Hening description begins William Waller Hening, ed. The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619. 13 vols. 1819–23. Reprint. Charlottesville, Va., 1969. description ends , 312–13). Successful petitions to save these tracts for GW were subsequently made in Burwell Bassett’s name. See Bassett to GW, 6 Nov. 1775, and Edmund Randolph to GW, 19 Feb. 1784. Lt. Gov. Robert Dinwiddie’s proclamation of 19 Feb. 1754 promised grants of land on or near the Ohio River to volunteers who served in the Virginia Regiment that was raised in the late winter and spring of that year (P.R.O., C.O. 5/1348, f. 168).
2. For discussions of Valentine Crawford’s and James Cleveland’s attempts to seat GW’s lands, see Valentine Crawford to GW, 24 June 1775, source note and n. 1.