George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Francis Mercer, 8 July 1784

To John Francis Mercer

Mount Vernon 8th July 1784


Strange as it may seem, it is nevertheless true, that I have not had it in my power to transmit the enclosed Statement of accots between your Father’s Estate & Brothers, & myself, before this;1 & now it is possible there may be omissions, for I find my affairs (as far as the little leisure I have will enable me to look into them) in very great disorder, requiring at least a Winter’s close application to assort papers & adjust accounts.

I send these accounts just as they stand upon my books—no credit I believe is omitted—if I am mistaken however, they may be allowed now, or whenever they are discovered. I am at a loss to know whether the three accots can, or ought to be blended in one; your brother & self may determine this point—I pray you & him to make such a general statement as will ascertain the balance, when all the credits are allowed. I know you will do me justice in this, & I want no more; but beg to have a copy of it transmitted to me as soon as convenient. I have not struck a balance on either of the accounts, because of Interest—& stopage of interest at proper epochas, which must come into the final settlement of all.

I can only repeat to you, how convenient it would be to me to receive that balance—I do assure you Sir, that I am distressed for want of money, & know not, as I never was accustomed to it, how to parry a dun—Nevertheless, I would not have you adopt measures, or precipitate a Sale which may be injurious to yourself.

Will you be so good as to ask your Brother in what manner I am to obtain Deeds for the two Lotts I bought at Colo. Mercers sale, & which are credited in his Accot? With esteem & regard I am Dr Sir &c.

G. Washington


John Francis Mercer (1759–1821), the son of John Mercer, and the much younger half brother of George and James Mercer, was at this time one of the Virginia delegates to Congress.

1The statement of accounts that GW enclosed has not been found, but see in Ledger B description begins General Ledger B, 1772–1793. Library of Congress, George Washington Papers, Series 5, Financial Papers. description ends his overlapping accounts with the Mercers—with the John Mercer estate for the years 1772 through 1791 (f. 221), with James Mercer, 1773–75 (f. 84), and with George Mercer, 1774–75 (f. 129). The Mercer indebtedness to GW arose mainly from the £2,100 sterling that John Mercer (d. 1768) borrowed from Martha Custis in 1758 shortly before her marriage to GW (see note 29 in Appendix III-B of Settlement of the Daniel Parke Custis Estate, 20 April 1759–5 Nov. 1761). In 1772, after the death of young Martha Parke Custis, Mercer’s £2,100 bond, with accumulated interest of £1,109.11.6, became a part of the dower property controlled by GW. Between 1773 and 1775 the Mercer brothers made substantial payments to GW in the form of wheat for GW’s mill and of land that GW acquired in the sales of George Mercer’s land in 1774, including two tracts on the Shenandoah River in Frederick County (see Edward Snickers to GW, 17 May 1784, n.1). GW also got, in December 1774, one-half of the Mercers’ Four Mile Run tract in Fairfax County (see GW to James Mercer, 12 Dec. 1774). James Mercer was the executor of his father’s estate after his father’s death in 1768, but his brother George Mercer, who since 1766 had been living permanently in England, in 1773 took the management of his own American property out of the hands of James Mercer (see GW to Francis Lightfoot Lee and Ralph Wormeley, Jr., 20 June 1784, source note). At this time in 1784, their half brother, John Francis Mercer, was handling the affairs of John Mercer’s estate. George Mercer died in London in 1784. For GW’s continuing efforts to collect what remained due him from the Mercer estate, see particularly his letters to John Francis Mercer of 27 Mar. and 20 Dec. 1785; 30 Jan., 6 Mar., 12 Aug., 9 Sept., and 5, 19 Dec. 1786; 1 Feb. and 5 Nov. 1787; and 11 Jan. 1788. See also Statement concerning George Mercer’s Estate, 1 Feb. 1789, and notes (Papers, Presidential Series description begins W. W. Abbot et al., eds. The Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series. 19 vols. to date. Charlottesville, Va., 1987–. description ends , 1:269–76).

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