George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Charles Lee, 20 February 1785

To Charles Lee

Mount Vernon 20th Feb. 1785

Dear Sir,

My Servant did not return with your letter, and the Papers therewith, until Nine o’clock last Night; so that I have scarcely had time to read the several Conveyances—In that from Mr & Mrs Dulany to me there is a capitol error. the Land held by the deceased Mr French, under the Proprietors Deed to Stephens and Violet, is no part of the Land exchanged. The original grant to Spencer & Washington, comprehends all the Land Mr & Mrs Dulany is to give for mine; and these are held by purchases from Richd Osborne (the quantity I know not) Arbuthnot for 150 Acres; Manley for 68 acres; and John Posey for 136 Acres.

If it is not essential to recite the quantities of Land had from each of the persons, with the dates of the several transfers of them, in order to give valuation to the Deed of Conveyance from Mr & Mrs Dulany; I see not the least occasion for it, on any other Acct; because, if they convey all their right to the Land within Spencer & Washingtons Patent, it gives all I want, & cannot in the remotest degree affect any other Land they have, because they hold none other, within several Miles of it. and because it would be sufficiently descriptive, as the Patent of Spencer & Washington is well known, and the boundaries of it will admit of no alteration, having the River, Hunting Creek & Ipsawassan (or Dogues Creek) and a strait line between the two last, for its limits.

For these reasons I should think, if at the end of the Mark No. 1 line 29, you were to add “by means of sundry purchases by him made from Richard Osborne, the Executrix of Thos Arbuthnot, John Manley, John Posey &ca containing in Spencers moiety of the said Patent” (if it is necessary to specify the quantity) “by estimation about 500 Acres of Land, be the same more or less.” it wd make the matter sufficiently clear for the precise quantity can only be ascertained by a strict investigation of lines & actual measurement; as part of Mr Frenchs purchases run into Washingtons moiety of the Patent, which can not be affected, tho’ to ascertain the different lines, & rights, would give trouble, and was one inducement for me to make the exchange.1

In whatever manner you judge best, draw the Deed accordingly, all I pray is, that it may be ready for the Court, this day. Nothing else brings me up, and it is inconvenient to leave home—Besides, Mrs Washington, tho’ not very well, will attend, in order to make a finish of the business 2—With much esteem &ca I am Yrs

Go: Washington

P.S. As the Land I get, comes by Mrs Dulany, would it not have been right to have given her the same interest in the Tract I convey? this by the by, only. And should not there have been a note of the interleneation respecting the amt of the rent, in that Deed? or do you mean that it is not to be considered as an interleneation? My taking a Lease from Mrs French, of her life Estate, if she should be disposed to give me one, upon the paymt of an annual rent, cannot be considered as a compliance on the part of Mr Dulany & discharge of that proviso which is to extinguish his Rent?

ALS, PHi: Dreer Collection.

Charles Lee (1758–1815), Col. Henry Lee’s brother, practiced law in Alexandria. GW often called on him to handle legal matters.

1GW for long had been negotiating to obtain a 543–acre tract on Dogue Creek held by Mrs. Penelope French for her lifetime, the possession of which would allow him to fulfill his dream of controlling all the land on the neck at Mount Vernon between Dogue and Little Hunting creeks. On 3 Feb. GW agreed with Benjamin Dulany, Mrs. French’s son-in-law, to give Dulany “the tract I bought of Messrs. Adam[,] Dow & McIver on Hunting Creek” (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 4:84) in exchange for the reversionary right of Dulany and his wife to Mrs. French’s land. Until Mrs. French agreed to make the exchange, or until upon her death Mr. and Mrs. Dulany did so, Dulany would pay GW £120 a year in rent for the Dow tract. For a description of this transaction, see the editors’ note in Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 4:84–85. A transcription of GW’s draft of his agreement with Dulany, dated 4 Feb. 1785, is in CD-ROM:GW.

2GW has this entry in his diary on 21 Feb.: “Went to Alexandria with Mrs. Washington. Dined at Mr. Dulany’s and exchanged Deeds for conveyance of Land with him & Mrs. Dulany—giving mine, which I bought of Messrs. Robt. Adam, Dow & Mclvor for the reversion of what Mrs. Dulany is entitled to at the death of her Mother within the bounds of Spencer & Washington’s Patent” (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 4:93). The deeds of conveyance from GW and Martha Washington to Benjamin Dulaney and from Benjamin and Elizabeth Dulaney to GW are dated 21 Feb. (Fairfax County Deed Book Q-1 (1785-1788), 311-21 Vi Microfilm).

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