To William Drew
Mount Vernon 20th Augt 1784
My inducements to lease Land were, to encourage emigration & to improve my property by planting industrious settlers on it; who, while they were working the soil would, for their own convenience, add value to the Tenements by buildings &c.—with this view I restrained the sale of my leases without my consent.
Having premised this, I wou’d next ask if you mean to build & reside on the Land, you express a wish to purchase from the widow Bartlett?1 If you do, I should be happy in having you for a tenant, but if you intend it only for a quarter, under the management of an overseer, I must withhold my consent, because (tho’ I am far from making any personal application) instead of improvements which wou’d add value to the Farm; I should expect, in such a case, to have it destroyed by incessant working; & rendered of no value by the time the lease might fall in—which would be defeating the principal objects I had in view from the grants of them, & injuring myself.2 I am Sir &c.
1. At his death in 1777, William Bartlett had a lease, for three lives (himself, his wife Mary, and his son William), for lot no. 5, probably 200 acres, of GW’s Bullskin tract in Berkeley County. His widow Mary paid rent for GW to Deputy Sheriff James Crane until 1781 (undated receipts for taxes paid in 1779 and 1781, NcD: Battaile Muse Papers). On 1 Oct. 1783 Lund Washington was reporting on tenants when he wrote GW: “The Widdow of Wm Bartlett coud not inform me by what means she was to pay hers, she is Sister to the Actg Sheriff of Berkeley—a man of good Character (Mr [James] Crane) she said she woud talk to him and get him to dispose of part of her Estate so as to enable her to pay the Rents, but unless he coud point out some way of doing it, she coud not, she hope’d distress might not be made for some little time to come, for all shoud be done, that coud be done to get the Rents” (ViMtvL).
2. Drew, who was county clerk, seems not to have rented this or any other land from GW. Mary Bartlett’s lease was transferred to John Bryan on 5 July 1786 (NcD: Battaile Muse Papers).