George Washington Papers

From George Washington to James Mercer, 19 November 1786

To James Mercer

Mount Vernon Novr 19th 1786

Dear Sir,

I was informed by your Brother, Colo. Jno. Mercer, who with his family were here on their way to Annapolis; that by some discovery which had been lately made, it appears that Messrs Niell McCooll & Blair, had not a legal right to dispose of the moiety of the four mile run tract, which belonged to Colo. George Mercer. This defect, I presume, can easily be remedied, as you are his Executor and heir at law. It is indifferent to me, to whom I pay the purchase money, if I am properly acquitted and assured of the title. I shall be obliged to you, therefore, to pass such a deed of confirmation for the moiety of the Land purchased from the above named persons, as to you shall seem proper. You drew the Deed from them to me, and have, I doubt not, the necessary documents for the one now asked. If not, I would furnish such papers as are in my possession. My wish is, to have all matters of this kind made clear, before I go hence, that no disputes may arise hereafter.1 With very great esteem & regard I am—Dear Sir Yr most Obedt & Affee Ser⟨vt⟩

Go: Washington

ALS, owned (1977) by Mr. Nicholas H. Morley, Miami, Fla.; LB, DLC:GW.

1For GW’s acquisition of the Mercers’ Four Mile Run tract in 1774, see GW to James Mercer, 12 Dec. 1774, n.3. There is this notation at the end of GW’s account with the estate of John Mercer: “[The attorneys of George Mercer’s creditors] proceeded to sell the sd George Mercer’s moity of a Tract of Land in Fairfax County in Virginia near four mile Run which the sd Geo. Mercer held in common with his brother James Mercer and that George Washington did purchase from the Attornies aforesaid the Moity of Land aforesaid in the Conveyance of which the said James Mercer also joined with the sd attorneys, and the sd George Washington gave his Bond therefor, payable to sd attorneys on their assigns for £450 Va Cy but the sd George Mercer dying in London in 1784 without having returned to this Country, the sd James Mercer became heir and manager of the property of the sd George Mercer decd and he the sd James Mercer doubting the Validity of the power under which sd moity of Land near four mile Run, was sold, Conveyed by a Deed dated 22d of May 1787 to the sd George Washington the whole of sd tract of Land, including the moity of George Mercer & his own; the sd George Washington having also then purchased the moity of sd James Mercer and on the same day of May 1787 the sd James Mercer & John Francis Mercer did give unto the sd George Washington a Bond of indemnification to relieve the sd George Washington from the payment of the Bond of £450 given as aforesaid [to the attorneys of George Mercer’s creditors] on condition of the sd Geo. Washington giving credit therefor to the Estate of Jno. Mercer decd which was accordingly done ...” (Ledger B description begins General Ledger B, 1772–1793. Library of Congress, George Washington Papers, Series 5, Financial Papers. description ends , 221). See also GW to James Mercer, 15 Mar. 1787.

James Mercer docketed this letter: “Washington Genl Novr 1786—abt Lands he purchased of McCoull & Blair attornies for Lindo & Cazenove—Memo. Lindo & Cazonove had no Title, but to avoid all disputes—and to do justice I sold the same Land to the General & for the same price & if Lindo & Cazenove recover the Money I am to repay the Genl. N.B. to enhance the value I discoun⟨t⟩ed the values. 729£ with the Genl out of Jno. Mercers Bond to him. Charge this to J. Fras Mercer.”

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