George Washington Papers

Answer to Benjamin Moody’s Bill of Complaint, 22 August 1780

Answer to Benjamin Moody’s Bill of Complaint

[22 Aug. 1780] This document is titled “The Answer of George Washington, Esquire, Surviving Executor of the last Will and Testament of Thomas Colvill, Gentn, deceased, to the Bill of Complaint exhibited against him by Benjamin Moody, Complainant.” Among the many complaints answered in this lengthy legal document, GW argues that the charges in Moody’s account submitted with his bill of complaint are “generally inadmissable.” As part of his answer, GW includes copies of four letters relating to the dispute exchanged between himself and Moody in 1779 and 1780. GW states that, as explained in his letters to Moody, he was “justifiable” in refusing to execute a deed which Moody desired for land involved in the case. “Equity requires” that payment due for the sale of the land “should be made in something of solid & substantial value.” GW believes this “to be indispensibly necessary to satisfy the demands of justice.” GW concludes the document by adding “that he has not a wish nor never had, but to do the most impartial and complete justice to All the parties concerned as well to the Complainant as to the Creditors and Legatees of the said Thomas Covil.”

DS, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, NjMoHP. The manuscript document, part of the Colvill estate papers, contains seventeen pages of text. It is undated but was certified before a magistrate of Orange County, N.Y., on 22 August.

For the background and details of the dispute between Moody and GW in his capacity as a trustee of the estate of Thomas Colvill, and for the text of the letters quoted in this document, see GW to John West, Jr., 4 July 1773, notes 1 and 2, 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 9:261–64; and GW to Moody, 12 Jan. 1780, source note.

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