George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Henry Addison, 17 November 1780

From Henry Addison

New-York, Novr 17th—1780.


Your Excellency, I trust, will not have wholly forgot the Name wch stands at the Foot of this Letter. The Owner of it can never forget that he had once the Pleasure & Honor of Mr Washington’s Acquaintance.

Your Excellency will scarce have expected to receive a Letter from me; & from this Place. Yet so it is that I arrived here about a Month ago from England, together with My Younger Son.1 The Difficulties wch I have here met with in obtaining Leave to pass the British Lines being removed, I have wrote to the Governor of Maryland, requesting that My Son & Myself May be permitted to return to our Native Country & Home. I have also wrote to my Nephew Mr Plater, who is a Member of the hon. Congress, entreating his kind Endeavours to promote this Business. But as the Dispatches from Maryland may be attended with some farther Delay, I have also wrote to His Excy the Govr of the Jerseys’, requesting that we may have the Honor to reside for some time in His State, & to receive his Pass-port for this Purpose.2

I presume likewise earnestly to request that we (My Son & Myself) May have the Honor of Your Safe Conduct, & I flatter Myself that I shall have the Consolation to hear from Your Excellency upon this Subject.

An old Man, broken in Mind, in Body, & in Fortune, requests thro’ You, Sir, that he may be permitted, together with his Child, once again to revisit his Country, & embrace his Children. ere his Eyes shall be for ever closed; & that he may find a Grave, amongst his Ancestors, in that Soil to wch he owes his Birth.3

I have the Honor to be, (in wch My Son desires to be respectfully joined with me) Sir, Your Excellency’s Most obedt Servt & Countryman

H. Addison


Henry Addison (1717–1789) was born into a prominent Maryland family; educated at Queen’s College, Oxford; and ordained an Anglican priest. His friendship with Jonathan Boucher, who married Addison’s sister and taught John Parke Custis and Addison’s sons, brought him into contact with GW. Addison and Boucher, both Loyalists, left for England in September 1775. Addison experienced financial hardship while in exile and returned to New York City, where he remained until the British evacuated in late 1783. Addison died at his home in Maryland. A collection of Addison’s letters from the Revolutionary War period is in MiU-C.

1Daniel Dulany Addison had joined his father in England after the outbreak of the Revolutionary War. He had stayed at Mount Vernon on 31 Jan.–1 Feb. 1769 (see Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 2:123, 126).

2Henry Addison’s letters to Maryland governor Thomas Sim Lee, Maryland delegate George Plater, and New Jersey governor William Livingston have not been identified.

3GW replied to Addison from Morristown, N.J., on 29 Nov. 1780: “Sir Being accidentally at this place, I met your letter of the 17th, here, this day.

“Should you obtain the permission which you have requested of the Governor of Maryland, that will be sufficient to convey you safely through the posts of the American Army; as the Officers commanding at them have directions to pay obedience, at all times, to the Acts of the Executive powers of any of the States” (Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW).

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