George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Marsden Pintard, 24 January–5 February 1786

From John Marsden Pintard

Madeira 24th January[—5 February] 1786.


A few days ago I was honoured with your Excellency’s favour of the 18th November Acknoledging receipt of mine of 19th August last. The Esteem Your Excellency is Pleased of Express for my father and the very Polite Manner of Conveying your Congratulations to me on my Appointment with your Wishes for my Success are highly flattering to me. More Particularly So as Coming from So Great a Charecter ⟨as⟩ the One to whome (Under the direction of Providence) ⟨my⟩ Country is Indebted for the Blessings of her Independency.

We have been Pestered by four Moorish Corsairs off here two of which have Actualy Anchored in the road of funchall. but from the Precautions I took in having Boats off to give Intelligence of them—three Americans Vessels got In safe and Escaped these Pirates. They have however now left us, I hope never to return; If some method is not Pursued to satisfy these Pests of mankind I am affraid our Commerce will greatly suffer.

Agreeable to your excellencys request I now send the vine slips and the young fig as Pr enclosed list.1 The vessell they go in Toutches at the Cape de Verd, but as there are So Seldom direct opportunities and this being the Proper Season for Sending them I have taken that liberty Especialy as the Capt. has Promissed to take the Greatest care[.] Should they miscarry or any Accident befall them on your Excellency’s Informing me they shall be Imediately replaced. In mean time should any direct opportunity offer I will send So⟨me⟩ others which I have ready Put up in earth. It will Allways give me Pleeasure (exclusive of the Honour Confered on Me by it) to execute Your Excellency’s Commands and should you wish a Supply of wine from this you may depend on my Greatest Care in the choice of its quality. It gives me Pleasure to find that the House of my Relations Messrs John Searle & Co. of this Place have formerly been honoured with your orders for that Comodity. they as well as myselfe will be happy for the Continuation of that Honour and endeavour to give the greatest satisfaction I cannot but observe that I should be hurt at Seeing Your Excellency Supply’d with wine by any other House on the Island being the only American here and Surrounded by those who are far from well wishers to America. It wd be a satisfaction to me to be taken notice of by my Country men.2 Wishing your Excellency evry ⟨degry⟩ of health and happiness I have the Honour to Subscribe myselfe Your Excellency’s Most obedient Humble Servant

John Marsden Pintard

ALS, DLC:GW; ALS, duplicate, DLC:GW. The letters in angle brackets are taken from the duplicate copy; both are endorsed by GW.

1The enclosures include the receipt of Capt. James Gibson, dated at Funchal on 24 Jan. 1786, followed by Pintard’s list. The receipt reads: “Received of Mr J. M. Pintard on board the Brig Industry myselfe master two Barrells and two half Barrells containing Some Slips of grape vines and fig tree which are to be delivered to his Excellency General Washington at Mount Vernon State of Virginia.”

The list reads:

“No. 1. Fine malmsey Grape

No. 2. Fine verdelha and Muscatell do

No. 3. a delicious white fig—

No. 4. a Black fig.”

The Verdelho grape is a warm-climate white variety, sometimes known as Vidonia.

2GW had ordered the Madeira wine from John Searle & Co. most recently in 1783, but he first dealt with John Searle in 1763 as agent in Madeira of the wine merchants Mayne, Burn, & Mayne. See John Searle & Co. to GW, 3 April, 15 July 1783, GW to John Searle & Co., 21 May 1783, and GW to John and James Searle, 30 April 1763. At the bottom of the copy of this letter, Pintard wrote: “The preceeding is copy of what I had the Honour of writing you on the 24th Ultimo per the Industry Capt. James Gibson by Whome I forwarded the vine Slips &c. a list of which with their Qualities you have at bottom[.] I was Sorry that the vessell they went by did not go direct but as they were carefully put Up I hope they will arrive in good order. nothing material occuring at present. I have the Honour to Subscribe myself Sir your Excellencys most obedient and very Humble Servant John Marsden Pintard.” He headed this “Madeira 5th February 1786.” Pintard also lists the items that he sent (see note 1).

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