George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Burrill Devereux, 15 July 1790

From Burrill Devereux

Marblehead [Mass.] July 15 1790


From an Impulse of Duty I feel myself under necessity of Acquain[t]ing your Excellency of the Death of one of your Officers, Mr Harris1 Collector of the Customs for the District of Marblehead Lynn Commonwth Massachusetts, his Business he left with me, who relinquished every other and confined my Attention to the affairs of his office almost Four Years, the Period of his first Election under the State Government, which has made the Official Business Habitual; if your Excellency would see fit to confer on me the Honor of the Appointment of Office you will thereby fix a lasting Obligation, and make provision for a Family dependant on the Exertions of Yr mo. Obt Hbl. Sert2

Burrill Devereux


Burrill Devereux (Devereaux; 1747–1796), who graduated from Harvard in 1767, was a prominent merchant of Marblehead, Mass., and invested in the privateer General Glover in 1779. He served in the state legislature during and after the Revolution. As a town selectman he welcomed GW to Marblehead on 29 Oct. 1789, and he later served on the board of trustees of the Marblehead Academy, incorporated in 1792. Devereux received neither the Marblehead collectorship nor any other federal appointment, and the successful applicant apparently had difficulty obtaining Richard Harris’s official papers from him (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 5:483; Columbian Centinel [Boston], 20 April 1796; Sibley’s Harvard Graduates, description begins J. L. Sibley et al. Sibley’s Harvard Graduates: Biographical Sketches of Those Who Attended Harvard College. 18 vols. to date. Boston, 1873–. description ends 16:455; Syrett, Hamilton Papers, description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends 6:553, 9:521, 26:553–54).

1Richard Harris died on 14 July 1790 and was buried in the Watson Street burial ground in Marblehead (DHFC, description begins Linda Grant De Pauw et al., eds. Documentary History of the First Federal Congress of the United States of America, March 4, 1789-March 3, 1791. 20 vols. to date. Baltimore, 1972–. description ends 2:504; Essex Institute Historical Collections, description begins Historical Collections of the Essex Institute. 8 vols. Salem, Mass., 1859–66. description ends 12 [1874], 155).

2For other letters soliciting Harris’s vacant post, see John Glover to GW, 15 July 1790 in Glover to GW, 24 Feb. 1790, source note, George Cabot to GW, 16 July 1790, and Elbridge Gerry to GW, 26 July 1790.

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