George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Betty Washington Lewis, 25 September 1792

From Betty Washington Lewis

Sepbr 25th 1792

My Dear Brother

My Indisposition for some time Past prevented my writing to you when Howell did,1 finding my self better to day, I shall endeavour to answer your request of my takeing Harriot to stay with me this winter. I shall have no objection to her being with me, if she comes well cloath’d or Provided to get them, that she may appear tolerable for I can assure you it was not so while with me before, by which means she was prevented frequently from appearing in publick—when it would have been my wish she should.2

A Little money laid out in cloaths at this time may be an advantage—I am sorry it will not be in my Power to advance any, haveing at this time three of my Grandchildren to support, and god knows from every Account but I may expect as many more shortly, [(]Fieldings is so distrest that his Childrer would go naked if it was not for the assistance I give him)3 I am happy to hear by Howell that you and my Sister keep in good health, I sincerely wish a continuance of it, I never had a more Sickly family in my life, than I have had this fall. I shall set out in a few day’s to see my Daughter Carter in Albermarl, I think the change of air may be of service[.]4 I shall return in a few weeks, when I shall be glad to see Harriot Present my Love to my Sister and the rest of the family, and Except the sincere good wishis of your Affe⟨c⟩et. Sister

Betty Lewis

ALS, ViMtvL.

1This letter to GW from his nephew Howell Lewis has not been found. The last extant letter from Howell before 25 Sept. 1792 is dated 24 April 1792 and that from his mother, Betty Washington Lewis, is dated 14 May 1792.

2For background on the care and education of Harriot Washington, see the source note for her letter to GW of 2 April 1790. Harriot moved to the Lewis home in Fredericksburg, Va., in early October (see GW to Betty Washington Lewis, 7 Oct. 1792).

3Fielding Lewis, Jr. (1751–1803), Betty Lewis’s eldest son, spent much of his life in dire financial straits. His extravagant lifestyle and careless handling of money were already evident at the age of 18 (see Fielding Lewis, Sr., to GW, 16 Sept. 1769, and note 3). By the time of his father’s death in 1781 he was deeply in debt (see Fielding Lewis, Jr., to GW, 22 Feb. 1784). By 1790 Fielding had sold not only most of the land he had inherited but also most of his worldly goods such as livestock, books, and furniture. Still he could not pay his creditors, and he was incarcerated in debtors’ prison in Winchester, Va., later that year (Felder, Fielding Lewis, description begins Paula S. Felder. Fielding Lewis and The Washington Family: A Chronicle of 18th Century Fredericksburg. [Fredericksburg, Va.], 1998. description ends 311).

4GW’s niece Betty Lewis (1765–1830) married Charles Carter (1765–1829), a son of Edward and Sarah Carter of Albemarle County, Va., in 1781, and their home in 1792 was Western View, located near Stevensburg, in Culpeper County, Virginia.

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