George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Archibald Johnston, 30 October 1787

From Archibald Johnston

30th Octr 1787

Dear Sir

Some time past I saw your Advertisement forbidding all persons from hunting on your lands without leave first being obtain’d from you1—Should esteem it a singular favour if you wou’d grant me the indulgence of hunting from the Tumbling Dam to your Mill, some Ponds in the White Oak Swamp and a small part of your River Shores such as you shall think proper, the strictest attention shall be paid to all orders you shall think proper to give me respecting the same the above favour shall allways be acknowledged2 by dear Sir Your Obt H. Servt

Archibald Johnston

P.S. My three brothers join in the above request. A.J.


Capt. Archibald Johnston, son of George Johnston (d. 1766) of Belvale, lived on the Colchester Road downstream from Mount Vernon on property adjoining Wilfrid Johnston’s.

1On 10 Aug. 1786 GW placed this notice in the Virginia Journal, and Alexandria Advertiser: “The subscriber does, in explicit terms, forbid every person who has not permission in writing (which is to be shewn to the nearest overseer) from taking wood or stone, from his shore. Under this pretext continual depredation is made on his sheep, hogs, &c. In like manner all persons are forewarned not to hunt or fowl on his land; for besides depriving him of the advantages which are to be derived from these sources, his fences (which are erected at considerable expence) are thrown down, and his pastures made a common.

“It would be painful to prosecute any person for trespasses of this sort; but after this public notice, he is determined to proceed with the utmost rigor against any one, who in violation thereof, shall invade his property. G. WASHINGTON.”

2GW responded from Mount Vernon on the same day in these terms: “Sir, My fixed determination is, that no person whatever shall hunt upon my grounds or warters. To grant leave to one, and refuse another, would not only be drawing a line of discrimination which would be offensive, but would subject me to great inconvenience—for my strict, and positive orders to all my people are—if they hear a Gun fired upon my Land to go immediately in pursuit of it—Permission therefore to any one would keep them either always in pursuit—or make them inattentive to my orders under the supposition of its belonging to a licensed person by which means I should be obtruded upon by others who to my cost I find had other objects in view[.] Besides, as I have not lost my relish for this sport when I can find time to endulge myself in it and Gentlemen who come to the House are pleased with it, it is my wish not to have the game within my Jurisdiction disturbed. For these reasons I beg you will not take my refusal amiss because I would give the same to my brother if he lived off my land. I am Sir Yr Very Hble Servant G. Washington” (LB, DLC:GW).

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