George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Roberts, 25 November 1784

From William Roberts

Mount Vernon Mills Novr the 25th 1784


This is to acquint your Exsellency that I maid Aplacation to Mr Lund Washington Near three Months ago to Know if I was to Stay a nother Year in your Imploy or not, his Reply was that he New Nothing to the Contrary that He Amagend I was to Contenew As you had Said Nothing Conserning My Going Away, Which Caused me to Rest Quiet—But to acquint your Exsellency that in your Absence to Richmon My Wife & I have had a Most unhapy falling out Which I Shall not Troble you with the Proticlers of No farther than this, I hapned To Git to Drinking one night as She thought Two much, & From one Cross Questune to a nother Matters were Carred to the Langth it has been Which Mr Lund Washington will Inform you For My part I am hartely Sorry in my Sole My wife appares to me to be the Same & I am of Apinion that we Shall Live More Happy than we have Dun for the fewter But My Time is Now Run out & Mr Washington Says hel Not Imploy Me any More for fare it Shold be against your Inclanation—Sir. I Shold think it hard to be Turnd out of Dors at this Seson of the year without the Lest Notes—Howaver I Shall Leve it to your Exsellencys Goodness as I have had no Notes to Git Into other Imploy Whather to Imploy Me one year More or Not—if you Mean to Imploy Me Pray Send me A Line As I may be out of pane For I Raly Doe Not want to Leve you, As I Have Livd So Long in the Imploy Without Flatery it has Caused Me to have A Real Regard for your Salf & Famaly 1—For the many past Favours that you have Dun Me a My first Comming to Virgenia. From Sir, your Exsellencys Most obt Servt

W:M. Roberts


1William Roberts of Pennsylvania had been GW’s miller since 1770 when GW hired him to operate his new gristmill on Dogue Run. After Roberts had been miller and millwright at Mount Vernon for nearly eight years, Lund Washington wrote to GW, on 2 Sept. 1778 from Mount Vernon, that he and Roberts had had “some talk about his continuing here longer.” Lund goes on for several pages about Roberts’s virtues and vices. After noting that “Roberts has Faults—he is fond of Drinkg too much & when in Liquor is apt to be ill natured” and conceding that “he is a strange temperd man,” Lund concludes that “there are few millers so good as he is.” Five years later, in September 1783, GW made his first move to replace Roberts. He wrote to a Phildalphia mercantile firm: “My present Miller . . . who perhaps understands the manufacture of wheat, as well as any miller upon the Continent; and who, I believe, is also an honest man; is become so unfit for the trust reposed in him by his addiction to liquor . . . that however reluctantly I do it, I shall be induced to part with him,” provided that he could find a suitable replacement (GW to Robert Lewis & Sons, 6 Sept. 1783; see also GW to Lewis & Sons, 16, 31 Oct. 1783). On 1 Feb. 1785, two months after receiving this letter from Roberts, GW wrote Robert Lewis again, saying that Roberts had “now become such an intolerable sot, and when drunk so great a madman” that he must find a new miller. GW fired Roberts in April 1785 and through the agency of Robert Lewis & Sons acquired Joseph Davenport to take his place (see particularly Robert Lewis & Sons to GW, 5 April 1785, and GW to Lewis, 12 April 1785). As late as 2 Sept. 1787 Roberts was still trying to persuade GW to let him return to Mount Vernon as miller.

Index Entries