George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Thomas, Lord Fairfax, 17 December 1778

To Thomas, Lord Fairfax

Camp at Middle brook State of New Jersey
Dec. 17th 1778.

My lord,

I have just been informed that Mr Tomison Ellzey has, under the idea of waste land, entered in your Lordships Office part of my purchase of Simon Pearson or William Ashford, lying in Fairfax County and on or near Dogue run—These Lands are included within ancient marked bounds by which I purchased them, and have regularly, & I trust satisfactorily paid your Lordship the quit rent these fifteen or twenty years.

I am perswaded I need do nothing more than to bring your Lordship acquainted with these facts to stay the iniquitous and I may add dirty & sneaking proceeding of Mr Ellzey—I therefore beg that this letter may be received & considered as a caveat to the issuing of a Patent to that person for any land adjoining those of mine abovementioned till I can be heard; when, if I do not make it appear that I neither hold, nor claim lands that have not been paid for in the transfer & regularly to your Lordship by quit rent ever since, I will agree, not only to loose them, but forfeit my whole Estate also.

Your lordship must be sensible that at this distance, seperated from my Papers, and engaged in the important duties of my command, that it is not in my power to go into an investigation of this matter at present and I repose too much confidence in your known justice to harbour a moments doubt that my local situation and confinement to the Army, will operate to my disadvantage in your Office tho it may have had no small weight in the conduct of Mr Ellzey. whose hopes, I am perswaded, were built upon my absence.1 With sentiments of the most perfect respect, & best compliments to Colo. Martin2—I have the honor to be Yr Lordship’s Most Obt & Most Hble Servt

Go: Washington

ADfS, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1On 29–30 Jan. 1761, GW purchased a 135-acre tract on the west side of Dogue Run at Mount Vernon from John Ashford, who had bought the property from William Ashford two days before. On 13–14 Jan. 1762, GW bought an adjoining 135-acre tract from George Ashford, and on 14 Feb. 1763, he bought another adjacent tract of 178 acres, which lay to the north and west of the Ashford holdings, from Simon Pearson (c.1738–1797). The purchases gave GW a 448-acre block of land from Dogue Run to the Alexandria-Colchester Road (see Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 1:293; Cash Accounts, 1762, n.13, in 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 , 7:108; and Memorandum List of Quitrents, 1773, n.1, in 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 , 9:431–32). Thomazin Ellzey (Thomasin Elzey, Elsey) collected quitrents for Lord Fairfax in the early 1760s and was a vestryman of Truro Parish in Fairfax County from 1765 to 1785. GW had known him as a neighbor, visitor to Mount Vernon, and foxhunting companion in the 1760s. For more on this affair, which seems to have gone no further, see GW to Lund Washington, this date.

2Lord Fairfax’s oldest nephew was the Reverend Denny Martin, who lived in Kent in England. Martin received a one-sixth interest in the Northern Neck Proprietary, and most of the rest of Lord Fairfax’s Virginia lands, after the latter’s death in 1781, on condition that he adopt the name Fairfax (see George William Fairfax to GW, 23 Aug. 1784, source note).

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