George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Elizabeth Haynie, 27 December 1790

To Elizabeth Haynie

Philadelphia December 27. 1790.

Dear Cousin,

Your letter of the 19 of October never reached my hands until a few days ago 1—I am very sorry to hear of the distressed situation in which you are; and have written to Mr Muse, to whom the management of my Tenements of Berkeley, Frederick, Loudoun and Fauquier is committed to let you have any one of them, that may be unoccupied, rent free during your own and the life of your Daughter Sally Ball Haynie and moreover to afford you some aid towards putting the place in order.2

It is incumbent on me however to observe to you that if there are not in either of those Counties abovementioned any vacant lots belonging to me, it is out of my power to assist you in this way—first because I have no lands in either of the Counties abovementioned except such as have been laid off into Tenements and offered on leases—and secondly because the lands, round about my dwelling house in Fairfax-County, are occupied by Negroes for my own support.

My Nephew Major George Auguse Washington will endeavor to see and deliver this letter to you, if you live any where in the neighbourhood of his Father in Berkeley County, and will receive from you, and report to me a more particular statement of your circumstances than your letter has done. In the interim I can assure you of the good dispositions towards you of Your affectionate Kinsman

G. Washington


Elizabeth Haynie (d. 1796), a relative of GW on his mother’s side, was living with her daughter, Sally Ball Haynie (born c.1779).

1No letter from Elizabeth Haynie to GW of 19 Oct. has been found.

2On 27 Dec. 1790 GW wrote to Battaile Muse: “A letter which will be shewn to you by my Nephew Majr Geo. A. Washington (if the facts be true as I presume they are) is from a near relation of mine. Feeling for her distress I am desirous of affording relief; and therefore request, if there is any vacant Tenements of mine in Berkeley, Frederick, Fauquier or Loudoun under your care that you will give her a lease for it, Rent free, for the natural lives of herself and daughter Sally Ball Haynie—and moreover, by pecuniary aids (to be drawn from your Collection of my Rents) to enable her to put the place in a little repair. If there are more than one lot vacant She may take her choice of them” (ALS, PWacD). It is not clear whether Muse was able to establish her on one of GW’s lots, but in his accounts GW noted giving Elizabeth Haynie £9 on 10 Jan. 1791 (Ledger B description begins General Ledger B, 1772–1793. Library of Congress, George Washington Papers, Series 5, Financial Papers. description ends , 324). After he turned over management of his lands in northern Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley to Robert Lewis in late 1791, GW instructed Lewis to provide Mrs. Haynie with necessities. In January 1795 Lewis wrote that he had advanced Mrs. Haynie fifteen pounds in several installments, describing her as a “very genteel old Lady . . . arrived at an age which makes her useless to herself and every one else,” adding that she was nearly blind (see Robert Lewis to GW, 17 Jan. 1795, ViMtvL). She apparently lived on Lewis’s property until her death on 29 April 1796 (see Lewis to GW, 5 May 1796, ViMtvL, and Sally Ball Haynie to GW, 28 Jan. 1798, DLC:GW).

In his letter of January 1795, Lewis described Sally Ball Haynie as a beautiful girl of sixteen or seventeen helping to support her mother by “great industry and œconomy.” After Elizabeth Haynie’s death in 1796, Lewis described her as a girl of unsurpassed “Virtue and exemplary conduct,” who would make “an extraordinary housekeeper” (see Lewis to GW, 5 May 1796, ViMtvL). On the basis of these recommendations, GW concluded to take the young woman into the household at Mount Vernon after he retired from the presidency (see GW to Lewis, 26 June 1796, ALS, ViW: Washington Papers). After taking Sally into his own home for a time, however, Lewis changed his assessment of the young woman, describing her as inordinately proud, temperamental, “giddy,” and “extremely deficient in household Economy.” He discouraged GW from taking her in and reported that he had sent her to live with Betty Calmes, the widow of Marquis Calmes, in the Shenandoah Valley (see Lewis to GW, 26 July 1796, DLC:GW). Sally subsequently lived in the household of George Eskridge in Frederick County (see Sally Ball Haynie to GW, 7 Dec. 1798, DLC:GW). In his will GW left Sally $300, which GW’s executor Lawrence Lewis paid to her on 5 Oct. 1801 as £90 Virginia currency (Prussing, Estate of George Washington, description begins Eugene E. Prussing. The Estate of George Washington, Deceased. Boston, 1927. description ends 166).

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