George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Hugh O’Connor, 22 September 1791

From Hugh O’Connor

Philedelphia Septr 22nd 1791

Please your Excellency,

I hope youll Excuse the liberty I take in addressing you. I am a Native of Ireland and a Bror of mine Councellor John oConnor wrote to me last year a most flattering letter to come to America with my family. at the same time he Inclosed me a Contract he made with Coll Wm Deakeins Junr for 40000 Acres of his Lands Situate from 15 to 25 Miles from the head Navigation of the Patowmack River in Consequence of this Contract a friend of mine mr Charles oConnor and I: got upwards of thirty Gentlemen of Fortune some of which are the first Merchants in Dublin and the Cashier of the Bank of Waterford who all agreed for the purchase of the above tract of Lands provided they answered the Description set forth by mr Deakeins in his Contract, they Commissioned a mr Charles mcDermott and me to come out to regulate all preliminaries relative to this purchase. but my being obliged to waite to Dispose of my Lands in Ireland and having along family Consisting of a wife and seven Children wee could not be together. but on my Arrival here I was Informed that mr mcDermott Waited on mr Deakeins and his Answer was that he had no ground this Side of the Alleagany mountains. on which mr mcDermott went to Ireland before I arrived here without purchaseing any ground. however I have as much power as he had. if I could get a tract of land in any of the three States this Maryland or Virginia in a good Country Convenient to A Navigable River and Commercial Town I would purchase it and go to Ireland and leave my family here and I would bring out this Collony. I have been the principle Sufferer by mr Deakeins not abiding by his Contract, for my Voyage Cost me upwards of £200. and I was so provoked at the Disopointmt that I would return, but some friends of mine prevailed on me to Waite some time and Endeavour to make out a Clear plantation for myself. but I am quite at a loss for any friend that would find me Such a tract as I want. but from your great and Humane Character I take this liberty of Informing you of my Situation and hope you will honor me with an Answer directed for me to mr Cary the printer here1—I am with great respect your Excellency’s most obedt Humble Servant

Hugh OConnor


Hugh O’Connor apparently belonged to the conservative Catholic mercantile family of O’Connor prominent in Dublin in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries (L. M. Cullen, Princes and Pirates: The Dublin Chamber of Commerce, 1783–1983 [Dublin, 1983], 56).

1O’Connor was probably acquainted with the well-to-do Christopher and Mary Sherridan Carey of Dublin and their six children, one of whom, Mathew, immigrated to America in 1784 and became a printer in Philadelphia (see Carey to GW, 27 Oct. 1788, source note; Campbell, Friendly Sons of St. Patrick and the Hibernian Society, 368–70). Bartholomew Dandridge replied to O’Connor from Mount Vernon on 3 Oct.: “By desire of the President of the United States I have to inform you that your letter to him of the 22 ult. has been received—The President directs me also to let you know that with respect to the contract, which you say was made with Mr Deakins for land, it is his opinion that there must have been some considerable misunderstanding in the matter, as no land situated in the part of the country you mention, can be bought for any thing like the price of half a dollar per acre, which is the price the President understands you were to have the lands for—The President not having been concerned in buying or selling land for some considerable length of time, cannot give you any information, with certainty, where or at what price you can suit yourself in land, nor is it in his power (from the multiplicity of business to which he is obliged to attend) to make any enquiries of that kind in your behalf; but being willing to afford you every assistance he can he directs me to transmit to you the Virginia Gazette and Alexandria advertiser, wherein you will find advertised for sale by Messrs [Robert T.] Hooe and [Charles] Little of Alexandria, sundry parcels of land, among the rest one called the Catoctan tract, on the Patomac river, which he thinks would answer your purpose as it will be sold in a body, or divided into small tracts as may suit the Purchaser, and from what knowledge he has of that part of the country, he believes the land to be pretty good—The price of the land and title which can be made to it the President must leave to your further enquiries—he has reason however to believe that the price will be from two to three pounds per acre” (DLC:GW). For the ad to which GW referred, see Virginia Gazette and Alexandria Advertiser, 15 September.

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