George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Thomas West, 5 July 1779

To Thomas West

New Windsor July 5th 1779.

Sir

Your letter of the 10th Ulto by the Post did not reach my hands till yesterday1—Although I have received money on my own account in discharge of Bonds, Mortgages &ca at the present depreciated price of it (by which, in some instances, I have not, in reality, got a shilling in the pound, though nominally the whole Sum) I can never consent to receive it as an Executor for others without a proper allowance unless the Laws of the State should compel it; of which you have the means of information more in your power than I have, & will act accordingly.

I do not recollect enough of Colo. Thos Colvills Will to remember who were the residuary Legatees; I thought his relations in England had been so—but be this as it may, the case is not altered by it; & I think Mr Moody, before a conveyance is made him, should pay the real, not nominal value of the purchase—without this I shall never (unless matters appear to me in a different point of light than they do at present) agree to make Deeds untill compelled by a suit in chancery.2

Before I conclude let me entreat you to have the Accts of that Estate put in the best Order imaginable—and every Voucher, Paper, and memerandum which tends to explain, or can any ways illucidate matters, carefully selected; as I am very anxious, or shall be so the moment it is in my power, to have a final settlement of my Executorship of that Estate in order to obtain a discharge from the trust. I am Sir Yr Most Obedt Servt

Go: Washington

ADfS, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. At the end of the draft manuscript, GW wrote West’s address as Alexandria, Virginia.

Thomas West (c.1750–c.1807), the eldest son of John West, Jr. (who died in 1777), was executor of his father’s estate. He served as a captain in the 10th Virginia Regiment from November 1776 to September 1778. West wrote GW a letter of resignation from Cameron, Va., on 9 Sept. 1778: “My Singular Circumstances renders it Absolutely Necessary for me to leave The Army Tho with the greatest Reluctance I ever did any thing in my Life. . . . My Paternal Affairs is in such a confus’d situation that I can by no means with justification to my Infant Family of Brothers and Sisters leave Home” (ALS, DNA: RG 93, manuscript file no. 31624). After the war, West briefly represented Fairfax County in the Virginia house of delegates.

1West’s letter to GW of 10 June has not been found.

2GW and John West, Jr., were executors of Thomas Colvill’s estate. For the complexities that stretched settlement of this estate over decades, 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 8:65–66, and 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 1:63–66; see also GW to John Swan, 23 May 1785, and to John Rumney, Jr., 24 Jan. 1788, in Papers, Confederation Series, description begins W. W. Abbot et al., eds. The Papers of George Washington, Confederation Series. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1992–97. description ends 3:13 and 6:58–59.

Thomas Colvill (d. 1766), originally from Cecil County, Md., had settled on the south side of Great Hunting Creek near Mount Vernon on inherited land. GW’s complicated and extended dealings as executor in settling Colvill’s estate ran decidedly contrary to his original understanding that his role would be nominal (see GW to Bushrod Washington, 10 Feb. 1796 [DLC:GW]).

Benjamin Moody (d. 1784) had purchased about 600 acres of land on Accotink Creek in Fairfax County from Colvill’s estate in 1768 but never made payment or secured title because of a protest over the executor’s survey. Moody subsequently attempted through legal actions to force GW to accept inflated currency to close the sale, and he eventually settled on a payment of £329 in November 1781. For further details on GW’s dealings with Moody, see GW to John West, Jr., 4 July 1773, 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 9:260–64; see also GW to Josiah Watson, 15 Dec. 1786, in Papers, Confederation Series, description begins W. W. Abbot et al., eds. The Papers of George Washington, Confederation Series. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1992–97. description ends 4:455–56.

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