George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Burwell Bassett, Sr., 7 September 1779

From Burwell Bassett, Sr.

Mt Vernon 7 Sept. 1779.

Dear sir,

Inclosed You’ll receive a valuation of your stock that was left at Claiborne, at the time they were valued it was as much as they would sell for.1 The cattle—⟨& sheep⟩ has to mean that was left there that at a sale which Hill advertised, and a good many people met, when he se[n]t up the best cattle, they would sell for nothing. This valuation was made last Decr and as Mr Custis has not got the money I think he ought to pay interest. I have valued the cattle that was brot’ up at 40£ round.2 This I thot’ was coming as near to their value as I possibly could—Some of them being dead. I sold your tobacco last June with mine at 12£ pr hundred, which I thot’ then a very good price, as it was the first tobacco that sold for so much with us. But there is no kn[o]wing how to make a bargain now. In my last I informed you that I delivered my letter to P. Posey & desire him to settle your account directly which he promises me to do.3 Yr affectionate, humble servt

Burl Bassett.

Sprague transcript, DLC:GW. The cover, with a docket in GW’s writing, is original. GW docketed the letter 8 Sept. 1779.

1Bassett is referring to Claiborne’s plantation in King William County, Va., part of Martha Washington’s dower lands, which GW had leased to John Parke Custis in 1778 (see GW to Custis, 12 Oct. 1778). The enclosed unsigned memorandum, dated 21 Dec. 1778, listed the livestock as eighty-eight cattle valued at £780; sixty-two sheep valued at £93; and ninety hogs, sows, and pigs valued at £216. The “stacks,” fodder, and wheat and oat straw were valued at £220. The total value of all the stock was £3,189 (DLC:GW). GW later copied this memorandum and enclosed it, with other notes related to the sale of the stock at Claiborne’s, in a letter to Bartholomew Dandridge of 20 April 1782 (DLC:GW).

2Bassett listed these forty-seven cattle separately and valued them at £1,880. In October, John Parke Custis, in a letter discussing the valuation of these cattle, provided GW with a list of the ages and breeds of the cattle (see Custis to GW, 7 Oct., n.6).

3Bassett is referring to GW’s letter to John Price Posey of 23 April. Bassett’s letter to GW conveying this information has not been found.

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