George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Lund Washington, 3 April 1779

To Lund Washington

Middle brook April 3d 1779.

Dear Lund,

Your letter of the 24th Ulto reached me yesterday—all that Frazer says about the Clarett are in the following words

“As Captn Sanford passes by your house, I have sent you a Hhd of the best Bordeaux Claret in bottles, I hope it will come safe to hand.”1

Whether under the circumstances to write to him for the acct of cost, & direction to whom to pay the amount; or to remit him something of equal value without doing this, I am at a loss—perhaps your enquiry of Sanford may enable you to form a better judgment of the matter than I can. You must make my acknowledgments to the owners of the Vessel for their politeness in refusing to receive freight & take an occasion of giving the Vessel some fresh stock at her departure for another voyage. I would not wish you to make use of this clarett but upon extraordinary occasions.

Mr Mercer may do as he pleases with respect to the discharge of his fathers bonds, now due to me—with respect to the open acct between us, I know too little of the matter to give any directions concerning it—He may settle the acct himself—less than three hundred pounds will discharge the Bonds for more than £30002—I do not recollect whether my bond was given for his Moiety of the four Miles run tract, but think it was to go in discharge of his debt to me. the sum I believe was £400, the same that Blair was to get for Colo. Mercers Moiety3—nor can I recollect whether all my charges have been extended (out of my Memorandum book) into my ledger nor is it indeed of much consequence, as a pound will scarcely fetch a shilling—Colo. Mercers acct is distinct from this, & undoubtedly must be paid if the other is received—the charges against his Estate on Acct of Waggonage is very proper, for if my memory serves me, I was to give him a certain price for his Wheat delivered at my Mill, & was requested to pay (& charge to his Acct) the Cost of getting it there.4With respect to the money due Blair (as Attorney of Colo. Mercer) I am easy what is done, so that by no neglect of mine the land is endangered.

In order to gratify Jack you may bring Sylla up again, & in lieu, send one of my mothers own fellows down—the greatest Rogue of the two5—I am sorry to hear of your loss in fruit.

Have you trimmed the locusts at the North end of the House in the manner formerly directed? have you opened the Visto to Muddy hole? have you planted Trees on the Mill race?6 &ca &ca &ca—Unless you keep some kind of a summary, or memorandum of these request, they will be forgotten, & pass of[f] unnoticed—& many of them if not attended to in due Season must pass over to the next—I forgot till now, & now it is too late, to desire that you would propogate (by cutting off twigs, & setting them) the Weeping & yellow Willow—I also wanted to have a good deal of apple pummice sowed last Fall for gr⟨a⟩fting on—by yr acct I fear it will be out of your power to do this in the present year. desire Bateman to propogate the English Mulberry for me.7 & if you could give my friend Colo. Mason a genteel hint, that I should not be offended if he was, at a proper Season for removing them, to bestow a few young Trees of Cherries—Plumbs—Nectarines—Pears &ca there would be no harm done.8

Nothing of much moment has happened either here, or within the Enemys lines, since my last—an Expedition which seemed to be in agitation from the East end of long Island supposed generally to be against New london, where there were some Continental & other Armed Vessels is either laid aside, or suspended for the present. the storms that happened about the equinox drove 14 empty transports (belonging to the Enemy) on shore on Gardeners Island, near the East end of long Island, where it was immagind they would be lost. it also drove three other transports of theirs on the Jersey shore, one of which contained between 150 & 200 Soldiers all (I believe) of whom perished.9 Mrs Washington joins in best wishes to you & Milly with Dr Lund Yr Affecte

Go: Washington

ALS, ViMtvL: Willard Collection.

2James Mercer (1736–1793), a lawyer in Fredericksburg, Va., was executor of the estate of his father, John Mercer (1704–1768). For discussions of John Mercer’s large outstanding debt to the Custis estate, see 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 , 6:261, n.29, and 9:283, n.1.

3On 12 Dec. 1774 GW had given James Mercer and his brother, Col. George Mercer (1733–1784), each a bond for £450 in payment for his purchase from them of 1,224 acres on Four Mile Run in Fairfax County (see GW to James Mercer, 12 Dec. 1774, and n.3 to that document; see also GW to James Mercer, 26 Dec. 1774, and GW to Lund Washington, 17 Dec. 1778). In the absence of George Mercer, who was living in England, his legal and business affairs in America were handled by Alexander Blair, a lawyer in Alexandria, Virginia.

4For GW’s prewar purchases of wheat grown on George Mercer’s Shenandoah Valley lands and its transportation by wagon to GW’s Mount Vernon mill, see GW to James Mercer, 12 Dec. 1774, and n.4 to that document (see also Edward Snickers to GW, 26 Jan. and 6 April 1775; GW to Snickers, 10 March 1775; and Ledger B description begins Manuscript Ledger Book 2, 1772-93, in George Washington Papers, Library of Congress. description ends , 84, 129).

5For the sending of Silla (Priscilla) from Mount Vernon to Mary Ball Washington in Fredericksburg, Va., in the late winter or early spring of 1778 over the objections of her husband Jack, a Mount Vernon cooper, see Lund Washington to GW, 18 Feb. and 4 March 1778, and n.4 to the latter document. GW had agreed to rent his mother’s slaves beginning in 1772 following her move from Ferry Farm on the Rappahannock River in King George County, Va., across the river to a house in Fredericksburg (see 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 , 10:348–49).

6Muddy Hole, part of the original Mount Vernon property, was GW’s 500-acre farm on the west side of Little Hunting Creek in the meadowland north of the Mount Vernon mansion house. The millrace, which was about two miles in length, paralleled Dogue Run to the west of the mansion house (see Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 2:218).

7Philip Bateman was a gardener whose indenture GW had purchased for £35 in 1773 (see 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 , 9:190, 202, 222, 227). Bateman continued to work at Mount Vernon long after his term of indenture ended. On 1 Oct. 1783 Lund Washington wrote GW from Mount Vernon: “As to Bateman (the Old Gardener) I have no expectation of his ever seeking Another home—indulge him in getg Drunk now and then, and he will be happy—he is the best Kitchen gardener to be met with” (ViMtvL). Bateman remained at Mount Vernon until at least December 1785 (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 4:254), and he may have been the Philip Bater who on 23 April 1787 made his mark on an agreement with GW to continue working as a gardener for another year (DLC:GW; see also Ledger B description begins Manuscript Ledger Book 2, 1772-93, in George Washington Papers, Library of Congress. description ends , 222, 251).

8GW had received a variety of fruit trees from George Mason as early as 1762 (see Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 1:295, 315, 317–18, 327–28, 337; 3:319).

9For accounts of this storm and the British decision to cancel their intended expedition against New London, Conn., see William Maxwell to GW, 25 March, n.2, and 28 March, n.1; and Israel Putnam to GW, 28 March, and n.2 to that document.

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