George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Thomas Newton, 10 October 1788

To Thomas Newton

Mount Vernon October 10th 1788


Your letter of the 23d Ulto1 was handed to me by Capt. Justice who deld at my landing 35,962 Shingles agreeable to his receipt.

Your letter of the 8th of August2 mentions that, by contract, payment was to be made for the shingles three months after the delivery of the first parcel, and in consequence thereof I did not make provision for the payment sooner, but as you have been disappointed in that contract and was obliged to advance the money for those which were delivered, I enclose a Bill drawn by Colo. Fitzgerald upon Messrs Brent and Co. in my favor for £14.8 the amount of 36,000 at 8/. The residue of the Shingles will, I hope, be sent up as soon as possible, for my delay for want of them would, at this season, be a material injury to me in my building.

You informed me in your letter of August that the Price of superfine flour was 32/ and Fine 28/ Pr bbl. I would thank you to let me know what it will fetch quik in Cash at this time. I am Sir Yr most Obedt Hble Sert

Go: Washington


Thomas Newton, Jr. (1742–1807), a merchant in Norfolk, Va., handled the sale of GW’s flour and frequently acted as agent for him in other sales and purchases. Newton served as a member of the House of Burgesses, 1766–76, and in the house of delegates, 1779–83, 1794, and 1796–99. In 1798 he was elected to the Virginia senate where he served until 1805. Newton four times was mayor of Norfolk, 1780, 1786, 1792, and 1794. This letter concerns shingles for GW’s new barn. In February 1788 GW started construction of a new barn, a two-story brick barn designed especially to serve his Ferry and French’s plantations. The structure was to be built, with some modifications, according to plans sent him in 1787 by the English agriculturalist Arthur Young. A Mount Vernon visitor described the uncompleted barn as very large, extending “about one hundred feet long and of an even greater width, which was to store all his grain, potatoes, turnips, etc. Around it he had also built stables for all his cattle, horses, and donkeys” (Brissot, New Travels, description begins J. P. Brissot de Warville. New Travels in the United States of America, 1788. Translated by Mara Soceanu Vamos and Durand Echeverria. Edited by Durand Echeverria. Cambridge, Mass., 1964. description ends 343). Most of the building material came from Mount Vernon, enabling GW to hold the cost of the barn to around £300, but he ordered about 100,000 juniper shingles from Newton in August 1788 (GW to Newton, 1 Aug. 1788). The largest shipment of shingles did not reach Mount Vernon until mid-December (GW to Newton, 17 Dec. 1788), and the barn was not completed until the spring of 1789.

1Letter not found.

2Letter not found.

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