George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Livingston, 9 March 1779

From William Livingston

Raritan [N.J.] 9 March 1779

Dear Sir

I am honoured with your Excellency’s favour of the 3d instant inclosing the depositions which I had the honour some time since to transmit you—As I cannot answer it, without seeing the parties, I must postpone it, till I have an opportunity to consult them on your Excellencys proposals which are equally just & honourable.

I am just now applyed to by Mr Van Nest a Son of one of our Council, & of a very respectable family—The causes of complaint are reduced to writing in the inclosed affidavits.1 General Waine & Major Fishurn2 I find are both absent from Camp—If they could be ordered here by the latter end of this month, so that the parties aggrieved could have an opportunity to issue process against them3 returnable the beginning of april, when the Court for this County sits, I suppose it would satisfy the Complainants4—I intend that Mr Van Nest shall himself wait on your Excellency with this Letter, as he may be able to give you farther particulars than are contained in the Depositions5—I have the honour to be with the greatest respect your Excellencys most humble St

Wil: Livingston

ALS, DLC:GW; copy (extract), in Tench Tilghman’s writing, enclosed in GW to Anthony Wayne, 16 March 1779, PHi: Wayne Papers. The extract consists of the second paragraph minus the last sentence concerning the proposed visit of Abraham Van Nest, Jr., to GW.

1The total number of enclosures is unknown, but one of that number may be the deposition given on this date to Tobias Van Norden, a justice of the peace in Somerset County, N.J., by Peter Davis, a constable in the same county, which is in DLC:GW. It reads: “on Jan. 26 last as the[n] he had a wornt [warrant] to take the Bodyes of Benjm. Fishburn [Benjamin Fishbourn] & Samll whright [Samuel Wright] and did searve it on Samll whright and after the taking of said whright he the deponent [Peter Davis] was sent for into the Rume of Genirell Veain [Wayne], and when said deponant entered the Rume Said whright Demanded to sea the wornt which he had against Said whright and on Refusell Genirell Vain Called said Deponant a Dam Rascull & after that the Genirell bid Mr Whright Drive the said Deponant out of the Rume, & after the said Deponant left the Rume Genirell Vain ordred a Gard to be set over the Said Deponant which was Dune & Said Deponant was under Gard about six Owres & after that was Permitted to go into the Rume of Mr Abrah. Van Neste untill call on & was retained in Said Rume about five Owers and then was permitted to go home to said Deponants Fambly on Promas to return aGain the next morning which was dune, and after Return from home the Genirell ordred said Deponant to return home aGain to his house—Forther said Deponant say Noth.”

Abraham Van Nest, Jr. (Van Neste, Jr.; 1750–1833) apparently served in the Somerset County militia, and he claimed Continental army service as an ensign in an 1832 pension application. His father, born in Raritan, N.J., on 27 Oct. 1713, died at the same place on 16 Aug. 1779.

2Benjamin Fishbourn (Fishbourne; 1759–1790) joined the 2d Pennsylvania Battalion as paymaster in October 1776, began service as a captain in the 4th Pennsylvania Regiment during early 1777, and became aide-de-camp to Maj. Gen. Anthony Wayne in 1779. Praised for valor at the Battle of Stony Point on 16 July 1779, Fishbourn continued on Wayne’s staff until 1783, when he left the army. Settling in Georgia, Fishbourn was active in state politics and gained notoriety in 1789 when the U.S. Senate rejected his nomination as naval officer at Savannah. For GW’s favorable reflections on Fishbourn and his military service, see GW to Fishbourn, 23 Dec. 1788 (Papers, Presidential Series description begins W. W. Abbot et al., eds. The Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series. 17 vols. to date. Charlottesville, Va., 1987–. description ends , 1:198–200), and to the U.S. Senate, 6 Aug. 1789, first letter (Papers, Presidential Series description begins W. W. Abbot et al., eds. The Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series. 17 vols. to date. Charlottesville, Va., 1987–. description ends , 3:391–93).

3Livingston inadvertently wrote “then” for this word.

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