George Washington Papers

To George Washington from James Hill, 5 September 1778

From James Hill

Wmsburg [Va.] the 5th Sepr 1778

Worthy General

Mr Custis Have thought proper to alter His estate in such a manner that it woud not suit me To look after it any longer provided he was willing tho it appears to me as tho he was not. However by not recceiveing a line from You Respectg Yours that I have under my Care was determind unless you & he agree’d on terms for him to have taken it—I woud acontinued it untill you returnd provided you had no objection; at what you thought reasonable tho expect by what I have heard he purposes to take it—I intended to awrote by him out to You but my business was Such at that time I had no opportunity, till he Set out; Youl please to rembr you told me in our agremt to do the best I coud with Mr Custis’s Estate & provided the Estate improved you’d increase the Lay which I was exceeding Willing in case it did not I woud ⟨ne⟩ver askd for 1 farthing More but you well Know Sir, You purchased two more plantations which enlarged the Estates considerably & made it more Troublesome them being purchased much out of order for Croping1 & woud Heartely Wish You to see the Estate now & you Know the order it was in When I took it & woud Wish to have Your opinion what yo. thought I deserved; & as to the Profits Asaveg Hope he will have no reason to complain tho I have had the misfortune for Several Years to loose the Wheat by Weavle;2 have made it up by Stock &c., which was all the Way I had to dispose of it, & now have the Estate in General in as good order for Croping as any Estate in the Colloney; for Tobo Wheat or any thing he Chuses to go upon for I have never sufferd the Tobo lands to be put in Corne or in wheat oats &c., till I got every plantation inclosed & thirded & is now with Slight run[nin]g over with Dung capable of bringing choice Tobo which hope Youl refer to Some Gent. that you can confide in that is a Judge & hear what they Say, & if they dont think that what Ive mentiond to you is as I say; I dont desire one farthing otherwise hope youl Allow me agreable to the difference of money when it took aRise; I agree’d to take the Lay Vollentine had which I have b⟨een⟩ Credibly informd he never gave An Acct for butter Sold & had Shugar found for his familys Use the Rum &c., that the butter &c. was Given up for his Wifes Trouble in doctorg lookg After Sping & this much I never Mentiond to yo. before,3 Mr Custis Says he is Willg to Allow what you think right & am Shure I am; & was you To abeen privy to Every Transaction of mine Ive renerd Accts for Every farthing Receivd & for every Article therefore hope if this was the Case With Vollentine Youl make me Some Allowance; & please to mention what you are willg to Give for yr own Since the Rise of Specia & am Sattisfyed With what ever yo. think reasonable as I am abt closeing my Accts what money I have of yours Shoud be Glad to Know if You woud have it put in the Continantal Loan office or Sent up by Mr Posey to Mr Washgton I woud apaid it to your Ladye but coud not get it in time enough Mr Custis & my Self agreed to leave my Wages to Colo. Basset & Mr Webb4 & they Allowd me 150£ for 2 Years & 175 for this But Mr Webb now Says he realy thought I only managed 3 plantations Near Wmsbg I shoud asupposed that they woud allow⟨d⟩ me the Value of 100£ Specia—for I have had the Trouble on me to make Sail of every plantations Crops in Wmsbg & there deliver it in order to get the Highest prisees delvd it in Small quantityes Which was aVast deel more trouble to me—Your Answer if possable to the Above requests by the first Oppertunity will ever be Acknowledged the greatest favour done.5 Yr Mo. Obt & Mo. Hble St

Jas Hill

P.S. I am Now abt Sellg Yr Beeves we have lost None with the Distempr as Yet.St

J. H.

Youl plea⟨s⟩e to informe me the Qty of Stock Mr Custis wants Left he has Accts of the whole as Davenp[or]t tells me; otherwise, I[’]ll inform You by my Next.


1On 17 Mar. 1772 GW contracted with Hill to manage “all” of John Parke Custis’s plantations and other business, as well as GW’s “Plantation in King William, Lotts in Williamsburg &ca” ( Papers, Colonial Series description begins W. W. Abbot et al., eds. The Papers of George Washington, Colonial Series. 10 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1983–95. description ends , 9:21). In 1773 GW purchased for Custis from William Black two plantations: Romancoke, containing about 1,780 acres adjacent to GW’s dower plantation called Claiborne’s in King William County, and Pleasant Hill, consisting of about 2,000 acres in King and Queen County (see GW to Robert Cary & Company, 10 Nov. 1773, and notes 3, 4, and 6 to that document, ibid., 9:374–380). For GW’s recollection of the effect of those purchases on the agreement, see his reply to Hill of 27 October.

2Hill was probably referring to the “Fly-Weevil” or moth (see Lund Washington to GW, 2 Sept., n.3).

3Before his death, Joseph Valentine (d. 1771) was employed as steward of Daniel Parke Custis’s estate and then manager of the dower lands of John Parke Custis and GW. His wife was named Mary.

4Hill was referring to Burwell Bassett and probably George Webb.

5In GW’s letter to Hill of 27 Oct., he replied that, having rented his plantation in King William County to Custis, he had no further need for Hill’s services.

Index Entries