George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Josiah Watson, 15 December 1786

To Josiah Watson

Mount Vernon 15th Decr 1786.


I am exceedingly anxious, to bring the Administration of Colo. Colvill’s Estate to a close. To do this, & to discharge some claims on it, (one of which is very pressing) it is become indispensably necessary that the Bond in which you are joined with the late Major Moody, should be paid off. I persuade myself there will be no further delay in doing it when the indulgencies which have already been given, & when the circumstances attending this transaction are, moreover, recurred to. Tho’ Majr Moody stands foremost in the Bond, he was not at the time it was taken, nor has he at any period since been considered as the principal. It will be remembered, I am certain, that I was assured on that occasion, (tho’ a credit of twelve months was given) the Bond should not remain unpaid so long: five years have since elapsed. More than a year ago when application, thro’ Mr Lund Washington, was made for this money, he was referred, as he informed me, to the heir or Executor of the deceased Mr Moody; but under the circumstances of this case, I beg leave to add that I must look to you for payment.1 I would have waited yet longer in expectation of having this money tendered to me, but for the reasons above; & which I pray you to receive as the apology for my being so urgent & so explicit now. With esteem, I am Sir &c.

G: Washington

P.S. If it is convenient to you, the price of the redemptioners, & the cost of the Osnabrigs may go in payment; if it is not, I will send you the money.2 In [ ] last the son of Mr Moody paid me £[ ].3


Josiah Watson, an Englishman, had been a respected merchant in Alexandria since before the Revolution.

1Benjamin Moody (d. 1784) in 1768 bought about six hundred acres of land on Accotink Creek in Fairfax County from the estate of Thomas Colvill. Moody did not receive title to the land because of a dispute over the survey, but in November 1781 Moody agreed to pay £329 for the land in installments, the first of which his son Thomas paid in May 1786. For a full discussion of GW’s dealings as a trustee of the Colvill estate with the Moodys, see GW to John West, Jr., 4 July 1773.

2Philip Marsteller wrote GW on 18 Dec. that he owed nothing further to Watson except freight for the passage of the redemptioners, the Overdoncks (see GW to Marsteller, 15 Dec, n.4; see also GW to Marsteller, 27 Nov.). In his accounts, GW credits Watson in February 1787 for “two Dutch redemptioners & 1 peice of Oznamburge ... in part payment of a Bond due from Mr Benjn Moody to the Estate of Colo. Thomas Colvill,” valued at £45.15.3, and, on 5 April 1787, with £13.4.9 “on Acct of Colo. Colvill’s Estate, in behalf of Mr Thos Moody” (Ledger B description begins General Ledger B, 1772–1793. Library of Congress, George Washington Papers, Series 5, Financial Papers. description ends , 245).

3GW gave this receipt dated 18 May 1786 at Mount Vernon to Moody: “Received from Mr Thomas Moody Ninety five pounds thirteen shillings Currt money (Specie) of Virginia; in part payment of a Bond given to me as Execr of the will of Thos Colvil Esqr. deceased, by Mr Benja. Moody his late father, with Messrs Josiah Watson and James Hendricks as Securities thereto, for Three hundred and Twenty nine pounds and dated the 19th of Novr 1781. Go: Washington” (ADS [photocopy], DLC:GW).

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