George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Ariss, 8 August 1784

To John Ariss

Mount Vernon 8th Augt 1784


In answer to your letter of the 5th, I have to inform you that I have no untenanted Lands in the Counties of Berkley or Frederick, except two lotts Nos. 5 & 6—the first containing 346½ acres, & the 2d—224½—in the latter, which I bought at the Sale of Colo. George Mercers Estate, in the year 1774—& for which I have had many persons applying to become Tenants.1 My intention was, after I had reviewed & laid those Lotts off into proper sized Tenements, to have appointed a day on the premises to let them.

If you choose to examine these Lots, & will, if either of them shou’d suit you, offer a good rent, it may (if I should not upon recollection find myself under a promise to give notice of the letting of them) supercede the necessity of this measure. I expect to be at my Brother’s on my way to the Berkeley Springs, the 2d of next month (at night)—where you may deposit a letter, which shall receive an answer from thence, to any proposals you may incline to make.2

With respect to Mr Whiting, I know nothing of his intentions—unless they be, as it shou’d seem, to work my Lands as long as he will be permitted without paying rent. If the nonperformance of Covenants, on the part of the Tenant, can be construed into a forfeiture of his Lease—Mr Whiting I persuade myself will have candor enough to confess that his comes under this predicament.3I am &c.

G: Washington


1The two tracts once belonging to George Mercer are near present-day Berryville, Virginia. For the sale of George Mercer’s holdings in Virginia in 1774, see GW to John Tayloe, 30 Nov. 1774, and GW to James Mercer, 12 and 26 Dec. 1774.

2GW does not mention in his diary having seen Ariss while at his brother Charles’s Happy Retreat on 3–4 Sept., but in 1786 Ariss leased land from GW. See Ariss to GW, 5 Aug. 1784, n.2.

3GW kept the record of Henry Whiting’s payments of rent in the account that he set up in Ledger B description begins General Ledger B, 1772–1793. Library of Congress, George Washington Papers, Series 5, Financial Papers. description ends for the original lessee, Francis Whiting, Henry’s father. The account shows that Henry Whiting paid £50.12 in cash on 3 Sept. 1784. A little over a year later, 5 Oct. 1785, GW records final payments of £199 plus £6.13.6 in interest “By Cash of Jas Crane for Henry Whiting’s Rent up to Jany 1785 Judgemt thereon in Berkeley Court” (f. 113). For further details of Battaile Muse’s settling this account for GW on 5 Oct. 1785, see NcD: Battaile Muse Papers.

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