George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Walter Rutherfurd?, 12 February 1777

To Walter Rutherfurd?

Head Quarters Morris town 12th Feby 1777


A letter was delivered to me this day by your Servant, directed for Lord Stirling, with a desire, that I would open it in his Lordships Absence.1

Tho’ I have not the pleasure of a personal acquaintance with you, I have ever heard, that your Conduct has been most unexceptionable, and strictly conformable to the Rules which have hitherto been prescribed to you. I therefore have no objection to your going to Philadelphia upon your private Business, and shall only desire you to consider; that the times require the same Rule of Conduct should be observed by you in Philadelphia that has been in Jersey, and that you should return as soon as your Business will permit. I am Sir Yr most obt Servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, NjHi. This letter was probably written to Walter Rutherfurd (Rutherford; 1723–1804), the brother-in-law of Lord Stirling, in response to Rutherfurd’s request for permission to travel to Philadelphia for business purposes. Rutherfurd came to America during the French and Indian War as a captain in the Royal American Regiment; he also served as regimental paymaster and judge advocate of the army. He subsequently was promoted to major before resigning from the British service in 1760. In 1758 Rutherfurd married Catherine Alexander Parker, the wealthy widowed sister of Lord Stirling, and together they held large tracts of land in New York and New Jersey, including an estate in Hunterdon County, N.J., Edgerston, where they lived throughout the Revolutionary War. If Rutherfurd indeed was the recipient of this letter, upon receiving it he apparently was emboldened to write to GW about the subject of swearing loyalty oaths to the United States, to which GW drafted a reply two days later; that letter is also to an undesignated recipient (see GW to Rutherfurd?, 14 Feb. 1777). Rutherfurd’s refusal to swear the oath of allegiance to the United States raised suspicions about his loyalty and led to his arrest and confinement to Morristown in August 1777, and in February 1778 he was paroled to his Hunterdon estate (see William Livingston to Elias Boudinot, 29 Aug. 1777, and Livingston to Rutherfurd, 15 Jan. 1778, in Prince, Livingston Papers description begins Carl E. Prince et al., eds. The Papers of William Livingston. 5 vols. Trenton and New Brunswick, N.J., 1979–88. description ends , 2:48–50, 185–87). After the war Rutherfurd built a mansion on Broadway in New York City.

1This letter has not been identified.

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