George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Josiah Parker, 19 December 1791

From Josiah Parker

Philadelphia December 19th 1791


I have received two applications from Suffolk to recommend to you persons to supply a vacancy in the customs in consequence of the resignation of Benjamin Bartlet.1

The first from Mr Lemuel Riddick son to the late Colo. Lemuel Riddick—this young Gentleman has received a liberal education & is a person of respectability—Some time since I recommended him to the secretary of War, as a person fit for an officer in the Army, but fortunate for him perhaps he has been neglected.2 he has Suffered much by the American War by loosing the most of his slaves & having his Houses in Suffolk burnt by a detachment of the British Army—notwithstanding he was ready at that time tho young to take up his musquet in defence of his Country.3

The other application is from Mr John Lawson an englishman who is married & settled in the Town of Suffolk, he is capable of the business being brought up to Merchandize, if his integrity & Sobriety can be depended on—but I am told he has lately been fond of the bottle, & I know during the war he was not an active friend4—With all due humility & respect I have the honor to be sire, your most Ob. servt

J: Parker


1GW appointed Benjamin Bartlett surveyor at Suffolk, Va., in May 1790 (see GW to the U.S. Senate, 25 May 1790).

2Lemuel Riddick (1763–1811) was the son of Lemuel Riddick (1711–1775), a prominent Suffolk planter and lawyer who represented Nansemond County in the House of Burgesses for thirty-nine years. GW nominated him surveyor on 28 Dec. 1791, and the Senate confirmed the appointment on 30 Dec. (Executive Journal, description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America: From the commencement of the First, to the termination of the Nineteenth Congress. Vol. 1. Washington, D.C., 1828. description ends 1:93). Riddick also became excise inspector for Suffolk in March 1792 (see GW to the U.S. Senate, 6 Mar. 1792).

3The British burned the town of Suffolk on 13 May 1779 and probably also destroyed Riddick’s nearby plantation home Jericho, which he inherited from his father in 1775. Virginia state troops quartered in Suffolk also did considerable damage to Riddick’s properties in Suffolk in 1776. Riddick sold the 225–acre plantation in 1785 (Norfleet, Suffolk in Virginia, description begins Fillmore Norfleet. Suffolk in Virginia, c.1795–1840: A Record of Lots, Lives, and Likenesses. Richmond, 1974. description ends 27, 117).

4John Lawson settled in Suffolk as a merchant before the American Revolution, but he does not seem to have involved himself in revolutionary activity. GW had already passed him over for the appointment in May 1790 (see GW to the U.S. Senate, 25 May 1790, n.3).

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