George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Jacob Wray, 13 September 1792

From Jacob Wray

The Hermitage Ashton Manour
Elizabeth City County [Va.]
Sepr 13th 1792

Honorable Sir

My Brother George Wrays friends (Colo. Cary Mr Miles King & others) has put him in mind of asking for the care of the light house business on Cape Henry [.] my Brother is a very sober man Active in spirits & they think he would make a good superintendt to the business, & command a good watch, & Such an amusement would pleas him to see he was of Use as long as he continues in this life[.] he has no family, & always been fond of serving the publick more then himself—therefore he would be glad to live better then he does to his own will, & pleasure (as he lives with our Family in Hampton) He has bin in no business since our revolution began, but a Deligate at Times—& continues in the County business—he has no rents nor in comes—I, believe not less then a round thousand behind hand in England but he thinks the British put him out, of ever paying that debt, therefore that does not dwell on his spirits, a Home altogether in his own way, & to be of such Use to the publick, woul[d] make him thankful & Dutiful, no doubt1—I am in al duty bound to the Father of this New Empire—Honorable Sir your most obedt

Jacob Wray

I am a Theocratic under the Auspicious Saviour of the World that Quickening Spirit that is to influence the whole World all in good time.



Merchant Jacob Wray served as the collector of customs at Hampton, Va., from 1789 until he resigned in March 1790. His son George Wray, Jr., succeeded him in this position (see Jacob Wray to GW, 24 Mar. 1790, and note 1, and GW to the U.S. Senate, 28 April 1790, and note 1).

1George Wray, Sr., who represented Elizabeth City County in the Virginia house of delegates 1781–85 and 1794, did not receive the appointment of lighthouse keeper at Cape Henry in spite of his recommendations from prominent Virginians. Col. Richard Cary, Jr. (c.1760–1800), a member of an influential Warwick County family, attended the College of William and Mary, served in the dragoons during the Revolutionary War, and was elected to the Virginia general assembly after the war. Miles King (1747–1814) of Elizabeth City County, who had been a surgeon’s mate in the 1st Virginia Regiment 1775–78, was also a member of the Virginia general assembly. He served as mayor of Norfolk from 1804 to 1805 and again in 1810. For the other candidates considered for appointment as lighthouse keeper at Cape Henry, see Hamilton to GW, 22 Sept., and note 6, and Thomas Newton, Jr., to GW, 28 Sept. 1792.

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