George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Samuel Purviance, Jr., 13 July 1779

From Samuel Purviance, Jr.

Baltimore July 13th 1779

Sir

I hope you will be so kind as to excuse my troubling your Excellency for information on a Subject with which I apprehend you are much better acquainted than any other Person I coud apply to.

The Case is this, I have had an Offer of Eleven Thousand Acres of Land part of those allotted to you & the Officers & Soldiers who fought under you at the Meadows in 1754,1 and which I have thoughts of purchasing: but know not any Person here who can satisfy me concerning the Quality of the Lands—As I have understood that Your Excellency attended the Survey of those Lands when run out for the Officers, I doubt not you can give me perfect Information concerning their Quality & Situation, as well as the Validity of the Grants.2 The Tracts I refer to, are One of 5000 Acres adjoining Lands of General Lewis near the Mouth of the great Kanaway, & 6000 Acres situated above Lands of Captn Hogg3 & Mr Waggoner4 & adjoining Lands belonging to You—Those Two Tracts are said to have been surveyed for Coll Meuse,5 and by him sold to Coll Thruston & by Coll Thruston to Coll Nevill. If the Patents are not already Issued for those Lands, do You apprehend there will be any doubt of obtaining them, or of those Grants being invalidated?

As I know your time is engaged with so many Public Concerns of Importance, Doctor McHenry is so obliging as to promise he will communicate to me such Information as You can give me on this Subject,6 which will greatly oblige Your Excellencys Most hble Servt

Saml Purviance Junr

ALS, DLC:GW.

Samuel Purviance, Jr. immigrated from Ireland during the 1750s and eventually settled in Baltimore, where he established successful distillery and shipping businesses with his brother Robert Purviance and engaged in local politics. An active Patriot during the Revolutionary War, he supplied American troops and financed privateers. The Purviances had speculated in western lands since 1777, buying large tracts in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Kentucky. Samuel Purviance subsequently suffered reverses, and he petitioned for insolvency relief in July 1787. Shawnee Indians captured Purviance in the Ohio country in March 1788, and he never was heard from again (see 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 2:332–33).

1For Virginia governor Robert Dinwiddie’s proclamation of 19 Feb. 1754 promising land in the Ohio country to volunteers of the Virginia Regiment, see Dinwiddie to GW, January 1754, especially n.12 and the editorial note preceding the letter, 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 1:63–67.

2For GW’s journey to the Ohio country in the fall of 1770 to locate these bounty lands on the Kanawha and Ohio rivers, see Diaries, description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends 2:277–328.

3Peter Hog (d. 1782) arrived in Virginia during the 1740s. He served as a captain in the Virginia Regiment during the French and Indian War until relieved of his command in July 1757 (see GW to Hog, 24 July 1757, 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 4:325–27). Hog later practiced law in Augusta County, Virginia.

4Peter Wagener (1717–1774) emigrated in 1738 and initially settled in Prince William County, Va., where he practiced law and became clerk of the county court. Wagener became clerk of the Fairfax County court in 1752 and held that position until his death. During Maj. Gen. Edward Braddock’s disastrous campaign in 1755, Wagener commanded a ranger company.

5George Muse (1720–1790) served with the Virginia provincial troops in the Cartagena expedition of 1741. He was lieutenant colonel in the Virginia Regiment of 1754 but resigned after being accused of cowardice following the surrender of Fort Necessity. Distribution of the Ohio country land grants created friction between Muse and GW, and his insulting tone in a letter particularly angered GW in early 1774 (see GW to George Muse, 29 Jan. 1774, 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 9:460–62).

6GW replied to Purviance in a letter of 7 Aug. (DLC:GW).

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