George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Samuel Milford, 24 September 1788

From Samuel Milford

Richmond, Septr the 24th 1788


Inclosed you have, A letter from Major John Poison, as also, one from said Gentleman to me respecting, an enquiry of some Lands in this Country, you will see Sir, by perusing his Letters, the wish, he has, to have early Information in England, and in consequence of his confidence, in me to Act for him, in this Part of the World I have taken the Liberty to write to you Sir Imediatly upon my Arrival in Virginia, (which was the 20th of this month) I then proceeded to Richmond to make the Enquirys He wished me, but could not by any means satisfy myself upon the Business, sufficiently to give him any Satisfaction by letter in the October Packett, but hope by the November Packett to have some, Intelligence, as Coll Harvey of the land, Office, (in this Place) whom I have waited upon, acquaints me that, you are the only Gentleman, in Virginia that can give me the regular and true, account, in what manner those Lands, were, and are now disposed off.1 I hope you will pardon the liberty, I take in writing tediously Sir, but my Anxious desire to procure Major Polson, early notice, is the only reason, and if you Excellency will do me the favour, to Answer this my Request, and put me, in the right, way, as speedily as Convenient (directed, to the Care, of Coll Burwell Bassett who, lives near where my Ship lyes)2 I shall esteem it an Honour, conferred On Sir your Excellencys, most Obt and very hume Servt

Samuel Milford


This letter concerns the claims of John Polson, Jr., for French and Indian War bounty lands. Polson served in the Braddock campaign and was severely wounded at the Battle of the Monongahela in July 1755. He was appointed an ensign in the Virginia Regiment but remained with the regiment less than a year. He then took a commission with the 44th Regiment of Foot and in 1757 became a lieutenant in the Royal American Regiment. See Papers, Colonial Series description begins W. W. Abbot et al., eds. The Papers of George Washington, Colonial Series. 10 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1983–95. description ends , 2:40, 47. Polson remained with the British army during the Revolution although he did not see active service in America. In 1781 he went to Jamaica to recuperate from illness brought on by his military service. Polson’s brother William Polson, who was with GW in the Fort Necessity campaign in 1754, was killed in 1755 at the Battle of the Monongahela. At the beginning of the 1770s Polson’s father, John Polson, Sr. (d. 1778), approached GW on the subject of the bounty lands to which William Polson’s heirs were entitled, and GW suggested that the matter might be efficiently handled by “Mr Alexr Craig, who is a resident of Williamsburg—a Man of very fair Character” (GW to Polson, 24 June 1771). John Polson, Jr., wrote to GW shortly after the Revolution requesting advice about securing his inherited share of his brother’s land—6,000 acres—and requesting GW’s aid in forwarding a letter to Craig (Polson to GW, 2 Sept. 1783). After learning of Craig’s death, Polson sometime before 1788 entrusted his affairs in America to Capt. Samuel Milford (see GW to Milford, 29 Sept. 1788).

1John Harvie (1743–1807) was a delegate to the Continental Congress 1777–78 and register of the Virginia Land Office from 1780 to 1791. As a purchasing agent he held the rank of colonel in the Virginia militia during the American Revolution and in 1785–86 served as mayor of Richmond.

2Burwell Bassett (1734–1793) lived at Eltham on the Pamunkey River. He was the husband of Mrs. Washington’s sister Anna Maria Dandridge Bassett, and the two families maintained close ties. When the Washingtons visited in the Williamsburg area they frequently stayed at Eltham.

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