George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Robert Turnbull, 27 May 1785

From Robert Turnbull

[Sprouston near Kelso, Scotland]
May 27th 1785.

Honourable Sir

The greatness and dignity of your character for the virtues of a Patriot will command the Veneration of future ages; and those graces that adorn, and render aimiable your private life encourage and embolden me to address you in an affair, in which I am much interested. Tho I trust I have a mind above the Love of money, yet as old age is approaching; for I have been above forty two years a Minister of the Gospel, the just debt due to me by my deceased brother when recovered would be most convenient; just as I hope you will be convinced, by the perusal of my deceased brothers letter to me, which I have transcribed and inserted in this.1 The only favour Good Sir I have to request of you, is to recommend to me some man of business in Virginia, to recover by the Law of that country, this Lawful and just debt. How happy for mankind were there a free and open intercourse among the nations and all men were treated as brethern. I have wrote two letters to my nephew Robert Turnbull in Virginia who has succeeded to the whole of my Brothers estate, on what foundation I am quite uncertain (but it can never exclude the payment of a just debt) for he has not had the civility to answer my letters, neither had he the Humanity to notify to me the death of my brother. I had rather be poor with that virtue, than be possessed of the greatest riches. My residence is at Sprouston near Kelso North Britain. I am with the highest esteem your most humble Servant

Robert Turnbull


1See Robert Johnston to GW, and notes, this date. At the bottom of his letter, Robert Turnbull adds an excerpt from a letter that his brother Charles Turnbull wrote to “Dear Brother Robie” from “Virginia. Park Hall. Dinwiddie County. 6 February 1768.” In the excerpt, after expressing his pleasure that their “dear Sister Stevenson” and her daughter had chosen to live with Robert “at Sprouston,” Charles Turnbull wrote his brother: “You may make this letter binding on my estate after I am no more of this lower world, that whatever you are or has been in advance for my sister on her daughters Board, cloaths, or for any thing else . . . you shall be refunded or repaid two pounds for one pound Sterling . . . .” Robert Turnbull made this notation at the end of the excerpt: “There is more in the letter but it does not relate to my claim on [his nephew] Robert Turnbull. My claim at a very moderate computation amounts to more than one thousand pounds sterling.”

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